Downs blasted a long double off the top of the left-field scoreboard to help
the Astros snap a six-game losing streak and start September with a win.
"It was good to get a swing like that your first game back," said Downs, who
thought he'd ended the game with a homer. "I actually celebrated a little
early on the first-base line. I thought I'd hit it out, but I'll take the
double. We won, that's the biggest thing."
Downs crossed the plate with the winning run when Jose Altuve hit a routine
roller right through the legs of Reds second baseman Wilson Valdez, a
"It's part of baseball," said a dejected Valdez. "You're never going to be
perfect. Anybody's going to miss a play. That was a bad moment that I made
there because it cost us a baseball game. Tomorrow is a new game, and we'll
see what happens."
Interim manager Tony DeFrancesco had no hesitation
using Downs in the high-pressure situation.
"He's an established Major League pinch-hitter," DeFrancesco said. "That's
definitely one of the roles he's going to have here this month."
Houston's third walk-off win of the season salvaged another
outstanding effort from Lucas Harrell, who made his
club-leading 27th start. Harrell didn't figure in the decision
but kept his team in contention through seven innings, scattering seven
hits, striking out three and allowing just one run.
Harrell has allowed two runs or fewer in nine of his last 10 starts. Over that
span he is 3-3 with a 2.58 ERA. With Saturday's outing he lowered his
ERA at Minute Maid Park to 2.06, and he leads all Major League rookies in
innings pitched, with 165 1/3.
"[Catcher Chris Snyder] and I just clicked," Harrell said. "We were on the
same page. He called a great game. I felt comfortable throwing my sinker in
today and a few times away.
"I got a lot of ground balls, and that was sort of the plan. We wanted to
conserve pitches today and get a lot of early contact."
Harrell said that he, too, thought Downs' blast would clear the fence as he
watched from the clubhouse.
"When Downs hit that ball, I was watching it on TV," he said. "I jumped
up and gave a big fist pump. I thought he got it. It was good to see him
come back and get a big hit."
A solo homer by Justin Maxwell in the fourth inning was one of just three hits
the Astros recorded over eight innings off Reds starter Homer Bailey, who, like
Harrell, did not figure in the decision.
Maxwell sat on a 2-1 fastball and went the other way with it, clearing the
right-field fence by 10 rows. Seven of his 13 homers this season have come
when Harrell was on the mound, including each of the last
"I'm going to make sure that when Harrell's on the mound, Maxwell will be in
the lineup," DeFrancesco said.
Relievers Hector Ambriz, Xavier Cedeno and Wilton Lopez combined for
five strikeouts in two innings of no-hit relief, with Lopez (6-3) earning the win. He
has six of the eight wins by Astros relievers this season.
"The clubhouse has a little life in it, finally," DeFrancesco said. "There's
smiles and music going on.
I'm really excited about what's going to happen here this month."