HOUSTON (AP) — Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker and a number of the Reds enjoy playing in Houston, and are disappointed that this weekend was their last trip here to play the Astros as National League Central rivals.
But when Houston moves to the American League next season, Texas-born Jay Bruce will miss visiting Minute Maid Park several times a year more than most.
Bruce's three-run homer keyed Cincinnati's five-run eighth inning and the NL-Central-leading Reds rallied for a 5-3 win over the Astros on Sunday.
"Absolutely," Bruce said when asked if he'd miss trips to Houston. "Obviously I like playing here and stuff, but more for just my friends and family. That has always been a thing that I have enjoyed a lot."
Houston led by three entering the eighth before Drew Stubbs walked with one out and Brandon Phillips singled to chase Hector Ambriz. Left-hander Xavier Cedeno (0-1) came in and watched his first pitch sail into the seats in right field on Bruce's 29th homer to tie it at 3-all.
Bruce, who is from nearby Beaumont, Texas, has three homers and 10 RBIs in nine games here this season. Fans could be heard bellowing "Bruuuuce," each time he came to the plate, and there were a group of five people with red shirts each sporting one letter of his last name in the crowd.
"That was so cool," Bruce said of the fans who spelled his name. "There's a lot of people here that I do know, but I didn't know them personally. They travel well from Beaumont."
Bruce was happy to get another shot at Cedeno after he struck him out in the ninth inning of Saturday night's 2-1 loss.
"It was a chance for redemption there," he said. "It worked out this time."
Bruce is much better against right-handers than left-handers, but Baker is encouraged with the progress he's made hitting lefties.
"He's learning how to hit," Baker said. "His average still isn't where he wants it to be, but he's learning to make them put the ball up and not chasing down."
Pinch-hitter Chris Heisey's RBI double off the left field wall put the Reds up 4-3, before they tacked on an insurance run with a double by Miguel Cairo — their fifth straight hit of the inning.
"It looked bad for a while," Baker said. "We didn't have a whole bunch of chances, but we got some guys on base late and got some good hits."
Jose Arredondo (6-2) allowed two hits and two runs in the seventh for the win and Aroldis Chapman pitched a perfect ninth to extend a franchise record with his 26th straight save and 34th overall.