By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
HOUSTON - The Reds' offensive woes show continued Wednesday night. Cincinnati managed five hits and three unearned runs in a 4-3 loss to the Houston Astros before a crowd of 20,794 at Minute Maid Park.
The Reds are hitting .209 as a team. They now have more strikeouts (57) than hits (55).
Adam Dunn struck out four times in four at-bats Wednesday. He has four hits and 13 strikeouts this season.
"When you don't hit like you should hit, you've got to change the way you hit, or change players," Reds manager Bob Boone said. "I'm certainly not at that point yet."
You have to factor in that they've faced Kerry Wood, Roy Oswalt and Wade Miller the last three games.
"That's a run against three of the best," Aaron Boone said.
Dunn has been hitting in the third spot since Ken Griffey Jr. was hurt. He's 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts since moving there.
"I don't know what it is," he said. "I'm swinging at pitches I should take and taking pitches I should swing at it."
Dunn said his current woes are nothing like last year's when he hit .190 after the All-Star break.
"I feel good," he said. "Last year I felt terrible."
The Reds' third, fourth, fifth and sixth hitters produced three hits Wednesday night - all from Sean Casey.
"When you get nothing from the middle (of the lineup), Dunn strikes out every time, it's a concern," Bob Boone said. "I want Dunn to hit like Dunn can hit."
Left-hander Jimmy Anderson went five innings, allowing three runs on five hits, and walked four and struck out one. He gave up seven runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings in his previous outing.
"I thought he pitched pretty well," Boone said. "He had that sinker going. It just got away from him for a little bit."
Miller went six innings, allowing three unearned runs on five hits.
The Miller-Anderson matchup ended 3-3; this one came down to the bullpens.
Josias Manzanillo (0-2) pitched a perfect sixth and then gave up three straight singles to start the seventh.
The Reds brought in left-hander Gabe White to face switch-hitter Lance Berkman, a career .256 hitter right-handed and .317 hitter left-handed. Playing the percentages paid - Berkman took a called third strike.
The Reds then brought in right-hander John Riedling to face Jeff Kent.
Kent got a run home with a sacrifice fly to center. Riedling struck out Richard Hidalgo to end the inning, but the Astros had a 4-3 lead.
They would keep it. It was the Reds' first loss after three wins in one-run games.
Anderson came in 2-6 with a 6.20 ERA in 10 appearances against Houston. But he pitched well until the third. He opened the inning by walking Berkman, then got Kent to fly out. Hidalgo followed with a single and Berkman scored when left fielder Dunn bobbled the ball.
Brad Ausmus tripled to get Hidalgo home, and Ausmus scored on Morgan Ensberg's sacrifice fly to right to make it 3-0.
The Reds had four hits off Miller through four innings. They scored three runs in the fifth without hitting the ball more than 40 feet.
Miller struck out the first two hitters, then had a complete lapse of control. He hit LaRue with a pitch, walked Anderson and then hit Barry Larkin.
Aaron Boone followed. He fell behind 0-2 and then hit a little roller to the third-base side of the mound. It was going to be a tough play to get Boone at first, so Miller fielded the ball and flipped it to third. One problem: No one was covering third.
The ball went into left field and all three runners scored to tie the game 3-3.
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