The Cincinnati Reds jumped on one of baseball’s best pitchers in the first inning and clinched a series victory against one of baseball’s best teams, beating the Houston Astros 4-3 on Tuesday at Great American Ball Park.
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Seven-time All-Star Justin Verlander gave up a home run to the Reds’ lead-off hitter, Jesse Winker, in the first and then a bloop double to the next batter, Joey Votto. Two batters later, Derek Dietrich hit a two-run home run to give the Reds a 3-0 lead.
Verlander, a seven-time all-star and former American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner, was making his second career start against the Reds. He struck out 15 in his previous start against another National League Central team, the Milwaukee Brewers, and he sought to become the third pitcher in baseball to reach 10 wins this season.
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After the Reds got to Verlander early, he settled down and held them to two hits in the next five innings. Then in the seventh, Kyle Farmer hit a solo home run to give the Reds a 4-1 lead. That turned out to be the crucial run for the Reds because Alex Bregman hit a two-run home run against Reds reliever Amir Garrett in the eighth.
Verlander (9-3, 2.59) allowed four earned runs on six hits in seven innings. He struck out eight.
Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani continued a string of strong performances. In three June starts, he has pitched 16 innings and allowed three earned runs. In this game, he allowed one run on six hits with one walk and struck out four. He has lowered his ERA from 4.99 to 4.22 since May 24.
The Reds (33-38) have won three games in a row for the first time since May 9-11 and for the fourth time this season. The Reds will become the first team to sweep the Astros (48-26) this season if they win a 12:35 p.m. game Wednesday.