Series: Game 1 of 3

Cincinnati leads 1-0 (as of 4/28)

Game 1: Friday, April 28
Game 2: Saturday, April 29
Game 3: Sunday, April 30

Astros 4

(15-7, 3-3 away)

Reds 5

(16-7, 7-3 home)

    7:10 PM ET, April 28, 2006

    Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio 

    123456789 R H E
    HOU 000101002 4 9 0
    CIN 01011020 - 5 12 1

    W: B. Claussen (2-2)

    L: R. Oswalt (4-1)

    S: D. Weathers (7)

    Philips, Reds finally solve Oswalt, Astros

    CINCINNATI (AP) -- On their 20th try, the Cincinnati Reds finally beat Roy Oswalt, led by a newcomer who wasn't fully aware of what was at stake.

    Brandon Phillips doubled, singled and scored twice off the pitcher who had the Reds' number until Friday night, then added a bases-loaded single off the bullpen for a 5-4 victory over the Houston Astros.

    With their eighth victory in nine games, the Reds moved into first place in the NL Central, a half-game ahead of the Astros. Cincinnati (16-7) also matched its club record for most victories in April, with two chances left to top it.

    This one will be remembered for who lost.

    Oswalt was the only pitcher in major league history to go 15-0 against a team, an unblemished stretch that included 17 starts and two relief appearances scattered over three ballparks -- two in Cincinnati, one in Houston.

    What's more, Oswalt had won his last seven starts against the Reds, who knew they'd need a few breaks to finally beat him.

    They got them.

    "Eventually, it's going to come to an end, if you play long enough," said Oswalt (4-1), who gave up eight hits and three walks in six innings. "I didn't really have a breaking pitch the whole night. I had to pitch with the fastball, and I didn't really get it where I wanted to, either. So it could have been easily a lot worse."

    Oswalt gave up runs on an opposite-field single, an infield single and a sacrifice fly, and got topped by a starter coming off the worst performance of his career. Left-hander Brandon Claussen (2-2) gave up a career-high nine runs -- including four homers in one inning -- in an 11-0 loss in Milwaukee on Saturday.

    This time, Claussen gave up two runs in 5 1-3 innings, including Preston Wilson's solo homer, giving the Reds a chance to end's Oswalt's run.

    "I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't know about it," Claussen said. "It's all everybody talked about. You'd have to be on another world to not know about it. That's something nobody's ever done."

    David Weathers gave up a two-run homer in the ninth to Lance Berkman -- a fan reached in front of the foul pole to catch it -- before finishing for his seventh save in eight chances.

    Phillips, the NL's most recent player of the week, was again the catalyst, going 3-for-4 in the breakthrough win. He scored the first two runs off Oswalt, and his two-run single off Chad Qualls made it 5-2 in the seventh inning.

    Phillips, acquired in a trade with Cleveland on April 7, didn't know that Oswalt was 15-0 against the Reds until Ken Griffey Jr. told him about it right before the game.

    "We just wanted to try and really get him today -- not that they weren't trying to get him the other times," Phillips said. "I was talking to Griffey about it and we were playing around, and I said, 'Let's go out and break it tonight. Let's just have some fun."

    Cincinnati pressed on without Griffey, who was eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list Friday. Griffey, bothered by an inflamed tendon behind his right knee, hasn't fully recovered from the nagging injury.

    Not that he would have been much help against Oswalt -- he's only 4-for-25 in his career without a homer off the right-hander.

    Instead, a player who had never faced Oswalt led the Reds to victory over their biggest nemesis. Phillips doubled to left and came around on Jason LaRue's soft, opposite-field single for a 1-0 lead in the second inning -- Claussen's first career lead when facing the Astros. In all of his three previous starts against Houston, the Reds were shut out.

    Claussen doubled his good fortune by driving in Phillips with an infield single in the fourth, his first RBI since June 28, 2003. Austin Kearns added a sacrifice fly in the fifth, when the Reds sensed they had the chance to break a streak that still amazed after it ended.

    "That's pretty good," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "He can start another five-year run if he wants to. That's pretty incredible. I don't know how to explain that."

    Game notes

    Astros SS Adam Everett was out of the lineup for the second straight game with a bruised left hand. Garner expects him back Saturday. ... Reds RHP Paul Wilson felt fine Friday, a day after his first rehabilitation start. He threw 92 pitches for Class A Dayton on Thursday. Wilson, who had shoulder surgery last June 17, might be ready to rejoin the Reds in May. ... OF Cody Ross made his first appearance for the Reds as a pinch hitter and struck out swinging at a pitch that hit him on the left hand. X-rays found no fracture. ... The crowd of 32,089 fans included 9,756 who bought tickets at the gate before the game, a sign of growing interest in the Reds.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press