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CIN@HOU: Wood's three-run shot gives Reds a lead

HOUSTON -- Joey Votto was given the day off on Monday, but Cincinnati's offense didn't take a break.

Home runs by starting pitcher Travis Wood and Ramon Hernandez, who replaced Votto in the lineup at first base, powered a 12-hit attack as the Reds cruised past the Astros 6-1 at Minute Maid Park.

"Guys need days off, but we swung the bats well, and we strung a couple of big innings," said catcher Ryan Hanigan, who had three hits for Cincinnati, which won for the fifth time in its last six games to improve to 19-16 on the season.

On Monday, the Reds mastered Astros starter Aneury Rodriguez, who held the Reds to one hit and no runs in five innings of work five days earlier in a game Cincinnati came back to win, 3-2, with three ninth-inning runs.

Rodriguez again went five innings. But this time Cincinnati hitters had more to work with than last week when Rodriguez made his first major league start. On Monday, the Reds scored five runs off Rodriguez and got eight hits off the right-hander.

"The first time, he was hiding his pitches and we didn't know what to expect," said Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips. "We were trying to see his pitches and see how they move.

"This time we were more aggressive, and we knew what to expect."

Not many could have anticipated Wood's home run. His first hit of the season gave Cincinnati a 3-0 third-inning lead, and the Reds, who added two more in the fourth, were never threatened.

And the way Wood (2-3) was pitching, the Reds were in good shape. In 6 2/3 innings, Wood allowed no runs and six hits with one walk and six strikeouts.

"It's nice when you have good starting pitching," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "And he's a good hitter. That [home run] was big. He has power."

There was no doubt about Wood's home run. It easily carried into the Crawford Boxes in left field. It was Wood's second career home run. On Sept. 4, 2010, he homered off St. Louis' Adam Wainwright, which had been the last time a Reds pitcher had homered.

"That was a big shot," said Hanigan, who along with third baseman Chris Valaika scored on Wood's home run. "We had big hits and kept up the pressure. There weren't too many quick outs."

Wood, who throws left-handed but bats right-handed, entered Monday hitless in 11 at-bats this season.

After Wood departed in the seventh inning, Bill Bray, Logan Ondrusek and Mike Leake followed. Four of Houston's nine hits came in the seventh and eighth innings. Only a Hunter Pence home run in the eighth inning off Ondrusek prevented the Reds from posting a shutout.

Wood had his breaking ball working effectively.

"I have confidence in throwing it. It felt good today," said Wood, who threw 71 strikes out of 106 pitches. "The pitches we were working on, we were able to mix up location and keep them off balance for the most part.

"The defense made some great plays behind me. We put together a good solid ballgame."

Wood certainly didn't mind talking about his hitting as well as his pitching. His homer gave the Reds a spark. And he knew it was gone the moment he made contact.

"It was one of those you just felt it was gone," said Wood.

Wood wasn't the only Red who was hitting on Monday. In addition to Hanigan's three hits, Phillips, Valaika and Drew Stubbs each had two hits.

"It's a good way to start a three-game series," said Baker.

Astros manager Brad Mills felt the Astros had an advantage over the Reds last week when the Reds had seen Rodriguez only on video. On Monday, Mills felt the Reds knew more of what to expect from Rodriguez.

"You saw how quickly they jumped on some pitches, real early in the count, first or second pitch," said Mills. "They weren't letting him get ahead. That was one of the biggest things last week was that he was getting ahead.

"They made a comment that he was [effectively wild] there, and he was able to get himself back in the count with some pretty good pitches. That was probably the biggest thing. There were some pitches that kind of leaked back over the plate on him tonight that they were able to get the barrel of the bat on."

Wood didn't get in much trouble except for the fifth and seventh innings.

In the fifth the Astros had runners on first and second with one out and the Reds up, 5-0, following Hernandez's two-run home run, his third of the season. But Wood struck out Michael Bourn swinging and got J.R. Towles to line out meekly to Phillips at second base for the third out.

Wood walked the leadoff hitter Brett Wallace in the seventh and gave up a two-out single to pinch-hitter Angel Sanchez, putting runners at first and second before exiting. Left-hander Bray came in to face Bourn, and Bourn's single loaded the bases. Right-hander Ondrusek came in for the bases-loaded situation and got Towles to ground out to short to end the threat. Comments