They had won only four of their previous 17 games and had blown most of a 14 1/2-game lead over the Giants.
But Giant Manager Roger Craig almost overnight changed the Reds into an angry, confident team ready to defend its lead in the National League West.
After giving up four runs to the Giants in the first inning, three of them on Matt Williams' home run, the Reds came back to win, 6-5, to take the series, 3-1, and stretch their lead to 6 1/2 games.
Craig incurred the wrath of Manager Lou Piniella when he accused pitcher Norm Charlton of throwing a spitter, and then upset relief pitcher Ron Dibble.
"They lost a couple of games and they accuse our pitchers of spitters," Piniella said. "They can't accept we beat them. He (Craig) got us stirred up. He did us a favor."
Joe Oliver's two-run double highlighted the five-run fourth that brought the Reds from behind.
Houston 7, Chicago 2--Franklin Stubbs broke out of a one for 27 slump with two home runs to lead the Astros to just their 15th win in 55 road games.
The Cubs' 20-year-old rookie, Lance Dickson, lost his second major league start. It was only the Cubs' eighth loss in 27 games.