Reds drop first game of season; Astros pick up first win

Cincinnati starting pitcher Sam LeCure threw five strong innings in the Reds’ loss to the Astros Thursday in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati starting pitcher Sam LeCure threw five strong innings in the Reds’ loss to the Astros Thursday in Cincinnati. Photo by The Associated Press.

CINCINNATI — Sam LeCure pitched well in his first start of the season, but couldn’t prevent two other firsts from happening Thursday — the first loss for the Cincinnati Reds or the first win for the Houston Astros.

Matt Downs doubled home the tiebreaking run with two outs in the ninth inning off reliever Nick Masset and the Astros held on for their first win, 3-2 over the previously unbeaten Reds.

The Astros were the last National League team to win a game, while the Reds had been the last NL team without a loss.

Cincinnati had won its first five games for the first time since its 1990 championship season.

LeCure, the former Helias Crusader, was steady for five innings in a no-decision. He allowed two earned runs and three hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Both runs scored on groundouts.

LeCure more than held his own against Astros No. 1 starter Brett Myers, who also gave up two runs over 61⁄3 innings.

It was the latest in a string of starts against a No. 1-type starter, as he did so four straight times last season when he took the mound opposed by Chris Carpenter, Matt Cain, Zack Greinke and Felix Hernandez.

It also happened in two spring starts against Carlos Zambrano and Tim Lincecum.

“I keep telling myself, ‘One of these days ...’” LeCure said in an interview with mlb.com.

LeCure, who did not join the rotation until near the end of camp and wasn’t totally stretched out, threw 84 pitches.

“I was getting tired toward the end,” LeCure said. “I’ve got trust in (manager) Dusty (Baker) and (pitching coach) Bryan (Price) that they’re going to do the right thing by me and protect me in that regard. I was just going to give it all I had until they thought it was time.”

LeCure said he could have been better in the outing.

“There were a couple of times I got a little bit complacent out there, and I think that cost us,” LeCure said.

One of those times came in the Houston fourth. Leading off, Carlos Lee of the Astros skied a long drive to the warning track in right-center field. Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce converged before Stubbs yielded to avoid a collision. The ball missed Bruce’s outstretched glove near the wall for a triple.

Lee then scored on Brett Wallace’s routine groundout to shortstop.

“The first pitch to Lee that he hit into the gap was a get-me-over fastball,” LeCure said. “I didn’t have a whole lot behind it. He took advantage and did what good hitters do.”

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