Reds veteran starter Bronson Arroyo has always stepped up while facing the Astros over the course of his career, and that didn’t change Wednesday afternoon, as the 34-year-old right-hander tossed a six-hit shutout to lead Cincinnati to a 2-0 win over Houston in the rubber game of the three-game series at Great American Ball Park.
Arroyo picked up his 12th career win versus Houston — the most he’s recorded against any team over 12 major league seasons.
The right-hander’s performance Wednesday was the highlight of his 2011 season, considering he has already set a Reds franchise record by allowing 44 home runs — just four shy of the National League record held by former Astros pitcher Jose Lima.
With the game lasting a quick two hours, 12 minutes, Arroyo received just two runs of support, but it was enough for him to cruise to victory.
Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips led off the bottom of the first with an infield single to second off Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez and stole second to set up Chris Heisey’s RBI single.
Third baseman Miguel Cairo belted a solo home run into the upper deck of left field in the second to give the Reds a 2-0 lead.
Rodriguez (11-11) managed to throw five straight scoreless frames, allowing just two earned runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts over seven innings to earn his 11th loss.
The veteran lefty surpassed 1,000 strikeouts for his career and is currently the all-time franchise leader in strikeouts for a southpaw.
He entered Wednesday with a 10-7 record and 3.17 ERA over 147 2/3 innings in his last 23 starts to make up for a rough April.
Reliever David Carpenter kept the Reds off the scoreboard in the eighth after surrendering a leadoff single to Phillips and issuing a one-out intentional walk to reigning NL MVP Joey Votto.
Heisey struck out, but after a balk that enabled Phillips and Votto to advance to third and second, Carpenter walked Jay Bruce to load the bases before retiring Cairo on a flyout to right field.
Arroyo (9-12) recorded his first shutout since tossing a two-hitter against the Washington Nationals on Aug. 13, 2009 in a 7-0 win.
“It was nice to pitch well at home,” Arroyo said. “My numbers on the road this year have been better. It has been tough for me to pitch here [Great American Ball Park] in the second half of the season. It’s nice to get the innings and get deep into a ballgame, for once. To have it be a real quick one was even better. It was a good game all around for us, defensively and on the mound.”
Chris Johnson and J.R. Towles led the Astros with two hits apiece, including a double each, while Phillips had a game-high three hits.
Johnson went 4-for-5, including a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the eighth in Tuesday night’s 6-4 loss, over the three-game series.
The Astros wrapped up their six-game road trip with a 2-4 mark.
Houston returns home for the start of their final homestand Thursday night by kicking off a four-game series against the Colorado Rockies.
Henry Sosa (2-5, 4.74 ERA) will get the starting nod for the Astros in the opener versus fellow youngster Alex White (3-2, 6.75 ERA).
White, the 15th overall selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, was acquired by Colorado on July 30 as part of the deal that sent standout All-Star Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians.
For the latest Astros news, click on the Subscribe button at the top of the page. Also, be sure to follow Houston Astros Examiner Stephen Goff on Facebook and Twitter, or email email@example.com.