Happ sharp; Astros edge Reds


The Astros overcame an early deficit tonight in Cincinnati to top the Reds by a score of 3-2. J.A. Happ gave up a leadoff homer to Brandon Phillips and another run in the second inning before finding his stride and shutting the Reds down. Happ struck out nine in six innings of work including three straight in the sixth.

Brad Mills successfully called on five relievers to pitch the final three innings. David Carpenter picked up his first big league win and Mark Melancon converted his second save in as many days. Quality pitching and just enough offense brings back memories of the second half of 2010. Teams seem to be pitching around Carlos Lee. Why not? The rest of the lineup is pretty punchless. But Brad Mills added a different wrinkle to his scorecard tonight. Matt Downs started in right-field and batted fifth, behind Lee. It was the first time Downs had ever played the outfield in the majors. Downs made Mills look like a genius, launching a homerun in the eighth inning that turned out to be the difference in the game. Downs is now hitting .389 since August 15. Mills needs to continue to find creative ways to get his bat in the lineup.