The Cincinnati Reds started a four-game series at home trailing the Houston Astros by 3 games in the NL West.
So there was plenty to be excited about for this one, as a strong showing could give the Reds a chance at the division title, providing the 2nd place San Diego Padres do their part as well.
For 7 and a half innings, things looked glum in the Queen City.
Joe Niekro was dazzling Reds’ batters, having allowed just one run while the Houston offense picked up three of their own.
Things turned around in the bottom of the 8th, as Wayne Krenchicki led off with a pinch-hit homer to make it a one-run game.
Two outs later, Dave Concepcion singled and that was all for Niekro.
The Astros’ bullpen was worn thin, having just played a 19-inning contest against the Cubs.
That’s not to mention a 14-inning affair from two nights before that.
So the little-used Bill Dawley was called upon to hold things down.
But he wasn’t quite up to the task.
Concepcion stole second and Dave Parker was intentionally walked to face the decidedly lighter-hitting Dann Bilardello.
It didn’t pan out, though, as the backup catcher picked up a game-tying RBI single, giving him just a .149 batting average in 67 at bats.
The Reds’ excitement was short-lived, however, as Ted Power couldn’t do much in the top of the 9th inning.
With one out, Jose Cruz walked and stole second.
Jerry Mumphrey singled and reached second on an error by Eric Davis in center, giving Houston a 4-3 lead.
Enos Cabell singled in another run and the Reds went to John Franco in place of Power.
Again, it didn’t help matters. Terry Puhl singled, Harry Spilman grounded out to score a run, and Dawley – hitting for himself with the bullpen taxed – singled in another run.
Dawley, by the way, is 2-for-7 with 2 RBI this season.
The 7-3 win for the Astros pushed the Reds 4 games back in the division and gave them a tragic number of 2.