Nolan Ryan, pitched a seven-hitter and the Houston Astros capitalized on 11 walks to widen their lead in the National League West to 1 1/2 games with an 8-1 victory today over the second-place Cincinnati Reds.
With the loss, Cincinnati could fail to qualify for the playoffs despite having the best overall record in the majors. Houston and Cincinnati both have three games remaining.
Ryan (11-5), who pitched a no-hitter against the Dodgers five days ago, wasn't sharp. He struck out nine, walked three and survived several shaky innings in pitching his fifth complete game.
In the seventh, with Houston leading, 1-0, Cincinnati reliever Joe Price walked Phil Garner and Jose Cruz with the bases loaded to give Houston a three-run lead.
Houston scored five more runs in the ninth. Ryan doubled and pinch hitter Denny Walling homered off reliever Tom Hume. Charlie Liebrandt walked in the third run of the inning and Art Howe and Craig Reynolds singled.
Houston scored one run in the first when Terry Puhl singled, stole second, took third on catcher Joe Nolan's throwing error and scored on Garner's sacrifice fly.
Cincinnati's run came in the seventh when Nolan reached on a fielder's choice, Ray Knight doubled and Nolan scored on a wild pitch.
Cincinnati's Bruce Berenyi (9-6), who walked six in six innings, was the starter and loser.
Price and Cincinnati Manager John McNamara were thrown out of the game by home plate umpire Joe West after arguing about Price's fourth ball to Cruz in the seventh.
The Astros play at Los Angeles and the Reds are host to Atlanta over the weekend.