HOUSTON (AP) After Cincinnati's Andrew Abbott wrapped up a third scoreless outing to begin his major league career Friday night, a reporter posed a playful question to the left-hander.
“What are the chances you give up a run this year,” Abbott was asked.
That evoked a chuckle from Abbott before he answered.
“It’s bound to happen,” he said. “But I’m going to try to keep it going as long as possible. Let’s put it that way.”
Abbott (3-0) allowed four hits in six innings to become the first MLB pitcher since 1893 when the mound was moved to its current distance to open his career with three consecutive scoreless starts of at least five innings.
“I didn’t know about the record books, but that makes complete sense because three great starts right at the very beginning of your career,” Cincinnati manager David Bell said. “And tonight, not taking anything away from those other starts, but tonight might have been the best going up against that team with all those good right-handed hitters. What an outstanding start ... he did exactly what we needed him to do and more.”
There was one out in the seventh when Stephenson connected on his fifth homer of the season off J.P. France (2-2) to put the Reds up 1-0.
Will Benson walked before scoring on a two-out double by Kevin Newman. The double banged off the wall in left field and skidded away from left fielder Mauricio Dubón, allowing Benson to slide in safely just ahead of the tag.
José Abreu doubled off Alexis Diaz to start Houston’s ninth and moved to second on a fly by Yainer Diaz. The Astros got on the scoreboard when Abreu scored on a grounder by Jeremy Peña.
Diaz walked Chas McCormick, but retired pinch-hitter Corey Julks to get his 18th save.
The 24-year-old Abbott pitched six scoreless innings in his major league debut on June 5 and followed that with 5 2/3 innings without allowing a run in his last start Saturday.
Abbott, who walked two and struck out two, also set a franchise record for most scoreless innings to start a career with 17 2/3 to pass Wayne Simpson, who threw 15 scoreless innings to open his career in 1970.
“I'm just trusting my own stuff,” Abbott said. “I’m not going to wow you with anything, but I’m just going to come and try and throw as many strikes as possible and get the guys behind me active and get quick outs.”
France yielded four hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings in his eighth career start.
“You hate for him to get the loss because he was throwing excellent,” manager Dusty Baker said.
The Astros went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position on a night the 1-2-3 hitters of Dubón, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman were a combined 0 for 12.
“You've just got to keep fighting and fighting and hope that our pitching stays the same until our offense wakes up,” Baker said.
Peña singled to start Houston’s third. But Abbott retired the next three batters to leave him stranded.
Matt McLain got Cincinnati’s first hit with one out in the fourth and stole second base. France sat down Jonathan India and Spencer Steer to end the threat.
Kyle Tucker singled with two outs in the bottom of the inning and stole second before Abreu walked. Diaz grounded into a fielder's choice at third for the inning’s last out.
Houston had runners at first and second with one out in the fifth but Abbott retired Dubón and Altuve to end the inning.
Reds: RF Stuart Fairchild was scratched from the lineup about 90 minutes before the game with neck stiffness. He was replaced by Benson. ... 3B Nick Senzel (right knee) was reinstated from the 10-day injured list Friday and INF/OF Jose Barrero was optioned to Triple-A Louisville.
Astros: RHP Ryne Stanek was reinstated from the bereavement/family medical emergency list Friday and LHP Matt Gage was optioned to Triple-A Sugar Land.
Cincinnati RHP Hunter Greene (1-4, 4.01 ERA) opposes RHP Brandon Bielak (3-3, 4.01) when the series continues Saturday.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Copyright 2023 STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.