CINCINNATI -- Maybe it's the way the ball flies out of the park. Perhaps it's the humid climate that reminds them of home. Or, it might just be the confidence of knowing that every time they show up, something good seems to happen.
Whatever the reason, the Houston Astros sure love it in Cincinnati.Wandy Rodriguez allowed one run in seven innings and Ivan Rodriguez homered and doubled Tuesday night, helping the Astros extend their three-year winning streak at Great American Ball Park with an 8-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.The Astros have won their last 11 games in Cincinnati, a streak that started late in the 2007 season and is the longest current run of dominance in the majors. Houston is 32-15-1 at the hitter-friendly ballpark that opened in 2003.It's not only their hitters who like it."Every time we play here, we play great," Wandy Rodriguez said.Rodriguez (2-2) leads a staff that has prospered at Great American, going 3-0 in his career at the ballpark. Houston's three starters in the series -- Roy Oswalt, Rodriguez and Felipe Paulino -- are a combined 11-1 at Great American.Ivan Rodriguez homered off Aaron Harang (2-3), who lasted only five innings against a lineup that sprouts a little swagger whenever it hits town."They like to come in here and hit," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "They were commenting around the batting cage about how they feel comfortable and confident playing here."The Reds made three errors behind Harang, letting in two runs. When Harang finished Houston's four-run fifth inning, he slowly walked to the dugout with his head down and threw his black glove against the back wall, knocking a red jacket onto the floor.It's been a frustrating month for Harang, who lost 17 games last season and has alternated losses and wins in his five April starts."I don't know what to say, really," Harang said. "They came out swinging, and we couldn't get it done. I thought I made some good pitches for the situations we were in, but things didn't go our way."That's how it goes when the Astros are around."A little bit of everything is coming up right now," Ivan Rodriguez said.Wandy Rodriguez has given up only two runs in his last three starts covering 20 innings. He beat the Reds 7-0 on April 18 in Houston, allowing two hits in seven innings. He was nearly as good in the rematch, giving up seven hits. After allowing a run in the first, he shut down the Reds."He's come a long way since '05 when I first got over here," manager Cecil Cooper said. "Last year in the second half he was excellent, and he's started out this year the same way. Five quality starts."Reds first baseman Joey Votto had two errors on one play in the first, letting in a run. Houston took control with the four-run fifth, highlighted by Carlos Lee's two-run double.Astros closer Jose Valverde went on the 15-day disabled list during the game, giving him a chance to rest the swollen right calf that has bothered him for a week.Reds third baseman Edwin Encarnacion went on the DL shortly before the game after tests found a chipped bone in his right wrist. Left fielder Chris Dickerson, who bumped heads with Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada in Monday's game, was sidelined after undergoing tests to see if he has a concussion.
RHP Jeff Fulchino was called up from Triple-A to fill Valverde's spot on the roster. He's expected to arrive from Round Rock before Wednesday's game. ... Michael Bourn had two walks but went hitless, ending his career-best hitting streak at eight games. ... The Reds called up INF Adam Rosales from Triple-A Louisville to take Encarnacion's place.