The Reds and Astros are no strangers to extra innings lately, and even Houston's two-run lead Saturday with one strike remaining couldn't keep them from working overtime.
One day after the teams played 11 innings, Houston reliever Ken Giles allowed a tying two-run homer to Adam Duvall with two outs in the ninth, but George Springer walked it off with an RBI single for a 5-4 win in 11 innings as the Astros evened the series at Minute Maid Park.
"It's not easy playing this many close games, and we continue to grind," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Our at-bats got better as the night went on. This team has grown a little bit throughout all these extra innings, because we have a tendency to try to end it [with a home run]. To watch a couple of singles go through the infield, very timely."
The Astros are now 7-4 in extra inning games this season, and 5-3 in such affairs at home. The Reds have now played three extra-inning games in their last four contests, going 1-2.
"We're battling our tails off in every game right now and giving ourselves a chance to win close games," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "That type of effort serves us well, and that will be the backbone of this team when it gets back on its feet to push for a World Series in the next couple years."
The furious finish obscured Cincinnati starter Cody Reed's impressive, but inconsistent, MLB debut, as he struck out nine but allowed a pair of two-run homers.
Marwin Gonzalez welcomed the left-handed hurler to the Majors with a mammoth shot above the Crawford Boxes in the first inning for his fifth homer this season and first since May 21.
Reed settled in after the opening frame, mostly matching reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, who lasted seven innings while allowing two runs and striking out six in an encouraging bounce-back effort.
Evan Gattis launched his 10th home run of the season to break open a tie game in the seventh inning and snap a lengthy slump at the plate. Reed finished seven innings in his first career start, allowing six hits and four runs.
Duvall's ninth-inning heroics gave him 20 home runs this season, tied for the Major League lead.
"I couldn't say I wouldn't believe [I'd have 20 homers], but it's still pretty cool to come up big in that spot," Duvall said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED All about Hamilton:Billy Hamilton showed no fear despite a recent concussion, sliding into the outfield wall for a remarkable catch in the second inning. The catch seemed to calm Reed down and prevented Jake Marisnick's liner from adding a run to Houston's early lead. According to Statcast™, Hamilton reached a max speed of 20.4 mph and had a route efficiency of 97.8 percent, while his first step was clocked at 0.1 seconds. The exit velocity off the bat of Marisnick was measured at 102 mph, and similar batted balls have posted a batting average of .889. More >
Keuchel of old: After struggling for most of the season, Keuchel had a strong start, allowing only two runs and five hits over seven innings with no walks and six strikeouts, taking a no-decision after three straight losses. Keuchel came into the game with a 3-9 record and a 5.54 ERA. After Zack Cozart's sixth-inning homer tied the game at 2, Keuchel retired his final six batters.
"He should feel really good after this outing," Hinch said. "He put away hitters. He did a good job of getting the ball on the ground."
Impressive debut: Reed sandwiched moments of brilliance between the pair of homers. The heralded left-hander struck out nine, walked three and threw 62 of his 92 pitches for strikes. Reed's nine K's were the most by a Reds pitcher in his Major League debut since Johnny Cueto had 10 strikeouts on April 3, 2008 vs. Arizona. The No. 60 overall prospect in baseball took a no-decision, but he showcased his potential with an impressive array of pitches against Houston's potent lineup.
"My slider was really working today, and that's been working for me the last two years," Reed said. "Just getting to a count when I can throw that was big for me to get swings and misses."
Drought buster: Gattis snapped a 1-for-37 skid with a go-ahead two-run blast in the seventh off Reed. Gattis took Reed deep on the first pitch of the at-bat for his 10th home run of the season, giving the Astros a 4-2 lead.
QUOTABLE "He's not healthy, and that's why we don't have a true long man in the bullpen right now. He's a little banged up, so you add that as having a six-man bullpen and most of these guys down there are on fumes, so it becomes a taxing environment. … The fact that Cody threw seven and [Josh Smith] pitched into the 11th saved our bacon for tomorrow." -- Price, on Alfredo Simon and the Reds' bullpen depth
UPON FURTHER REVIEW Price unsuccessfully challenged a call in the ninth inning, saying that Gattis didn't touch second base en route to third on Jason Castro's one-out single. The call of safe on the field stood.
WHAT'S NEXT Reds: It's another southpaw on the bump for Cincinnati, which goes for the series win at 2:10 p.m. ET in Sunday's series finale at Minute Maid Park. Brandon Finnegan gets the ball, looking to extend his stretch of solid starts. He's allowed two runs or fewer in four of his last five outings.
Astros: Former Brewers pitcher Mike Fiers makes his seventh career start vs. the Reds at 1:10 p.m. CT, owning a 2-4 record against the club. The right-hander has walked two or fewer batters in 13 straight starts, dating to his final start of 2015.