Matsui turning in healthy second half

Matsui turning in healthy second half

CINCINNATI -- Considering all the injuries the Astros have been forced to deal with in the second half of the season, it's been surprising that the one name absent from the trainer's report has been second baseman Kazuo Matsui.

The often-injured Matsui played in his career-high 116th game Tuesday night. His only trip to the disabled list came in May and June as the result of a strained hamstring. Matsui made three trips to the disabled list last year in his first season with the Astros.

"I want to play as much as I can," said Matsui, who played in 1,143 consecutive games in Japan, the fifth-longest such streak in the country's history. "I'm not satisfied with 115."

After a 2-for-4 night Tuesday, Matsui is hitting .252 with six homers, 40 RBIs and 19 stolen bases. His batting average was well below the .293 he posted last year in 96 games, but the Astros are pleased with his stellar defensive player.

"He's got tremendous range, great feet, quick feet and good hands," manager Cecil Cooper said. "When Kaz is healthy, he is a terrific player. That's the one reason we signed him, because we thought his defense would be very good and we could use his speed."

Matsui ranks second among National League second basemen with a .993 fielding percentage, with only four errors in 570 total chances entering Tuesday.

"Defensively, he's as close to automatic as you're going to find," Astros general manager Ed Wade said. "He's got very good range, very good hands and turns the double play well. We knew the type of player we were signing, and he's had to go through some injury issues along the way and some struggles offensively, which could have been related to some of the health issues early."

Pitching matchup
HOU: RHP Yorman Bazardo (0-1, 9.00 ERA)
This will be Bazardo's first start since giving up eight hits and eight runs in two innings Aug. 28 at Arizona. He's started two games since being called up Aug. 8. He struck out all three batters he faced in a scoreless ninth inning Friday against Pittsburgh. He's 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA in two starts this year. He has never faced the Cincinnati Reds.

CIN: RHP Justin Lehr (4-2, 4.93 ERA)
In a 6-4 loss to the Cubs on Friday, Lehr lasted only 4 2/3 innings and allowed five earned runs and five hits with three walks and one strikeout. All three of his walks came with two outs and two of the runners scored.

Tidbits
Center fielder Michael Bourn stole his 56th base of the season Tuesday, tying him with Cesar Cedeno for sixth-most in a single season in Astros history. ... Left fielder Carlos Lee is five RBIs shy of 100 for the season, which would give him five straight 100-RBI seasons. ... Left-hander Tim Byrdak has appeared in a career-high 66 games. ... Right-hander Sammy Gervacio has not allowed a run in 16 of his 17 Major League outings.

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On the Internet
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Up next
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Astros (Bud Norris, 5-3, 5.44) at Brewers (Manny Parra, 10-10, 6.42), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Astros (Brian Moehler, 8-10, 5.01) at Brewers (Jeff Suppan, 6-10, 4.87), 6:05 p.m. CT

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.