A blister on the index finger of his pitching hand bothered the right-hander but the Reds’ small ballpark was worse.
“My finger bothered me a little bit,” Norris said. “I’m trying to leave it all on the field. I made some good pitches and a couple fell in.”
The Astros, who staged an unlikely ninth-inning comeback against Reds closer Aroldis Chapman to pull out a 5-3 win on Friday, took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Fernando Martinez’s one-out double and Justin Maxwell’s two-out bloop single to center.
That was all the support Norris would get in spite of a double Martinez lineup. Fernando Martinez was on base three times with a double, single and walk and scored the lone Houston run. J.D. Martinez had two singles and reached on an error but twice was erased on a double play.
Jose Altuve, the teams’ all-star and leading hitter, was out of the lineup with a lower abdominal strain. He is day-to-day.
“Everybody is going to get a chance down the stretch,” interim manager Tony DeFrancisco said. “We had the right guys up. A big hit here and there and we would have a chance. Two hits for J.D was nice to see after the struggles you’ve seen all summer.”
Jay Bruce tied it on Norris’s first pitch of the second with a mammoth, 421-foot homer to center field, his career-high 33rd of the season. He set his previous career high of 32 last season.
“They’re a good hitting team. I only made one really bad pitch,” Norris said. “That was the solo shot to Bruce.”
Bronson Arroyo extended his personal winning streak to five games.
Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto both had two hits to help Arroyo improve to 8-1 over his last nine starts and 9-2 since July 6.
Arroyo (12-7) had at least one baserunner in every inning except the seventh — his last — but allowed just a first-inning run. The Astros had seven hits and two walks with five strikeouts.
Sean Marshall allowed a walk in the eighth and Jonathan Broxton gave up two hits while finishing the game in the ninth.
Phillips led off the third with his 16th homer of the season and first since Aug. 29 at Arizona, giving the Reds a 2-1 lead. His 368-foot, opposite-field shot to right bounced off the top of the fence and into the seats.
“Phillips put a good swing on that pitch. I put it right where I wanted. This park plays small but everybody knows that,” Norris said.
The Reds got help from Houston to break the game open with a three-run sixth.
Cincinnati loaded the bases on Votto’s leadoff ground-rule double, a one-out intentional walk to Bruce and an unintentional walk to Todd Frazier. Ryan Hanigan drove in Votto with a single to right, DeFrancesco brought in right-hander Fernando Rodriguez to face Wilson Valdez, who hit a dribbler up the third base line. Bruce scored and Rodriguez’s wild throw while lying on his back sailed into the Reds dugout for a throwing error that allowed Frazier to score.
“Norris threw good for five innings there. He kept us close. We walked Bruce and he had two shots to try to get out of the inning. There was a soft single by the catcher. That was enough after that,” DeFrancesco said.
Notes: Bruce has homered in six of his last eight games. ... Cincinnati SS Zack Cozart’s sore back was diagnosed as a strained left oblique after he underwent an MRI on Friday. Valdez made his second consecutive start in Cozart’s place. ... DeFrancesco shored up his injury-plagued infield by giving Jimmy Paredes his first career start at second base. Paredes opened the season as a minor-league infielder before being moved to the outfield. Altuve (left lower abdominal strain), 3B Matt Dominguez (sore left hand) and IF Scott Moore (left groin strain) and Brandon Laird (flu-like symptoms) all were not available.
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