CINCINNATI - Rich Aurilia went 4-for-4 with a tying three-run homer in the eighth inning Monday night and Royce Clayton hit an RBI single that sent the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros.
The late rally left second-place Cincinnati two games behind idle St. Louis in the NL Central. The Reds have stayed in contention by beating their division rivals, going 37-29 overall and 8-2 against the fading Astros.
Aubrey Huff hit two home runs for Houston, which has lost eight of 10.
Lance Berkman connected for a homer off Bronson Arroyo and Willy Taveras extended his hitting streak to 24 games with a bunt single as Houston pulled ahead 3-0 after seven innings.
Then, Houston's balky bullpen let it slip away.
Chad Qualls (4-3) gave up a pair of hits and a first-pitch homer by Aurilia, who also had a pair of infield singles and a double. After two more singles, Clayton singled up the middle with two outs to give the Reds their first lead.
Ryan Franklin (4-6) pitched a perfect eighth to get the win, and newcomer Scott Schoeneweis got the last three outs for his first save. The Reds are using a collection of relievers to close games while Eddie Guardado is on the disabled list with a sore forearm.
The no-decision left Arroyo stuck in a two-month slump.
The All-Star has only one victory in his past 12 starts, the result of misfortune that prompted him to briefly change his hairstyle for luck.
Again Monday, there was no such luck. He gave up only five hits but left trailing 2-0 after six innings.
MARLINS 3, NATIONALS 1
In Miami, Anibal Sanchez pitched seven solid innings to win for the first time in nearly a month as Florida beat Washington.
Sanchez (5-2) allowed one run and four hits in seven innings, walking four and striking out four. It was his first win since July 25 at Atlanta - a span of five starts. Sergio Mitre pitched a hitless eighth inning before Joe Borowski worked the ninth for his 28th save in 31 chances.
Billy Traber (3-2) gave up three runs and six hits in 6w innings. He struck out seven and walked two for Washington, which has lost three in a row.
With one out in the seventh, Traber hit Jeremy Hermida. Hanley Ramirez followed with a triple into the left field corner that tied the game 1-1. Dan Uggla then had a run-scoring single to make it 2-1.
Miguel Cabrera followed with a single to left that scored Uggla when Alfonso Soriano bobbled the ball.
The Nationals took a 1-0 lead on Soriano's 41st homer of the season.