Houston, TX —The Cincinnati Reds have been on a tear the last few weeks getting timely hits and great pitching over the last three games.
Reds Tyler Stephenson homered to help Andrew Abbott out to beat the Houston Astros 2-1.
Abbott (3-0) allowed four hits in six innings to become the first MLB pitcher since 1893 when the mound was moved to its current distance to open his career with three consecutive scoreless starts of at least five innings.
Abbott pitched six scoreless innings in his major league debut on June 5 and followed that with 5 2/3 innings without allowing a run in his last start Saturday. He passed Wayne Simpson, who threw 15 scoreless innings to open his career in 1970.
“I didn’t know about the record books, but that makes complete sense because three great starts right at the very beginning of your career,” Cincinnati manager David Bell said. “And tonight, not taking anything away from those other starts, but tonight might have been the best going up against that team with all those good right-handed hitters. What an outstanding start … he did exactly what we needed him to do and more.”
In the seventh Stephenson smashed his fifth homer of the season off J. P. France (2-2) to put the Reds up 1-0.
Will Benson walked before scoring on a double by Kevin Newman . The double bounced off the wall in left field and skirted away from left fielder Mauricio Dubón, allowing Benson to slide in safely just ahead of the swipe tag.
José Abreu smoked a doubled off Alexis Diaz to get things moving for Houston in the ninth and moved to third on a fly by Yainer Diaz. The Stros got on the board when Abreu scored on a grounder by Jeremy Peña.
Alexis Diaz walked Chas McCormick, but retired pinch-hitter Corey Julks to get his 18th save of the season.
The Astros went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position on a night the 1-2-3 hitters of Dubón, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman were a combined 0 for 12.
“You’ve just got to keep fighting and fighting and hope that our pitching stays the same until our offense wakes up,” coach Dustin Baker said.
“I’m just trusting my own stuff,” Abbott said. “I’m not going to wow you with anything, but I’m just going to come and try and throw as many strikes as possible and get the guys behind me active and get quick outs.”
France gave up four hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings in his eighth career start.
Peña singled to start Houston’s third. But Abbott retired the next three batters to leave him stranded.
Matt McLain got Cincinnati’s first hit with one out in the fourth and stole second base. France sat down Jonathan India and Spencer Steer to squash the threat.
Kyle Tucker singled with two outs in the bottom of the inning and stole second before Abreu walked. Diaz grounded into a fielder’s choice at third for the inning’s last out.
The Astros had runners at first and second with one out in the fifth but Abbott retired Dubón and Altuve to end the inning.
Cincinnati RHP Hunter Greene (1-4, 4.01 ERA) opposes RHP Brandon Bielak (3-3, 4.01) when the series continues Saturday.