CINCINNATI -- Finally, this was the Astros’ chance to break through. Myles Straw, the fastest player in the organization, drew a leadoff walk in the ninth inning, setting the stage for the top of the order -- Alex Bregman, Michael Brantley and Yordan Alvarez -- with a chance to erase
CINCINNATI -- Finally, this was the Astros’ chance to break through. Myles Straw, the fastest player in the organization, drew a leadoff walk in the ninth inning, setting the stage for the top of the order -- Alex Bregman, Michael Brantley and Yordan Alvarez -- with a chance to erase a one-run deficit.
Much like the rest of the rainy Monday night at Great American Ball Park -- Houston's first trip to the Queen City since its last year in the National League in 2012 -- the Astros' rally in the ninth inning proved to be an exercise in frustration, and it punctuated a 3-2 loss to the Reds.
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“A one-run loss, you always look back at the opportunities missed and we had a lot of them, including at the end with our best guys up,” Houston manager AJ Hinch said. “We just didn’t do enough. It’s frustrating, obviously, to lose any game, but this was a winnable game.”
Winnable because the Astros drew a season-high nine walks and managed to turn them into only two runs. Houston’s offense -- which remains without injured stars José Altuve, George Springer and Carlos Correa -- has scored two runs in the past 20 innings.
Straw began the ninth with a walk, but Bregman popped out, Brantley flied out and Alvarez struck out to end the game
“I’ve got to do a better of trying to hit a line drive right there,” Bregman said.
The Astros were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base. The one hit was a two-out double in the seventh by Brantley that scored Jake Marisnick from second base. Houston third-base coach Gary Pettis stopped Bregman at third base with two outs, a decision Hinch backed considering Cincinnati right fielder Yasiel Puig has a tremendous throwing arm.
“I think he’s out if he goes,” Hinch said.
Bregman said he wasn’t surprised to get the stop sign.
“He’s got one of the best arms in all of baseball and he put it on the money from the wall,” he said. “We knew that in the scouting report before the game. We know who has good arms, and he’s got an elite arm.”
In the fourth, when the game was still scoreless, the Astros loaded the bases with one out on a single by Yuli Gurriel and walks to Josh Reddick and Robinson Chirinos. Tyler White hit a 92-mph grounder up the middle that turned into an inning-ending double play.
“We thought we were talking the lead and instead we fell behind [in the fifth],” Hinch said.
That’s when the Reds got to Astros starter Wade Miley for three runs, with three batters reaching on a walk and three singles on balls that weren’t hit particularly hard -- 83 mph off the bat of Curt Casali, 78 mph off the bat of Nick Senzel and 70 mph off the bat of Eugeno Suarez.
“Credit to those guys,” Miley said. “They didn’t have the pull approach. They were staying inside and shot them through the hole. It’s tough.”
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.