CINCINNATI -- Bronson Arroyo and Dusty Baker disagree on why the Reds right hander put together his best outing of the season in Sunday's 2-1 win over the Blue Jays.
Arroyo chalked up much of his success to luck, saying Toronto hitters merely popped out on his mistakes -- while other teams would have sent them sailing. Baker, for his part, thought otherwise.
"Everything is about location," Baker said. "He had great location."
Even though Arroyo felt like he missed all of his spots through the first four innings, Baker had a point. After all, Arroyo had surrendered 17 runs in 4 2/3 innings his last two times against Toronto -- both at the Rogers Centre.
At the Great American Ball Park on Sunday, however, Arroyo lasted a season-high eight innings and gave up just one earned on five hits, helping the Reds avoid a sweep. Cincinnati's offense, which has been stagnant for much of the series, looked equally lethargic at times on Sunday. But a two-run homer by Miguel Cairo was all Arroyo needed.
"It was nice to get a win," Arroyo said. "It was a close ballgame. Every game in the series was close, and we just came up on the short end two times. Miguel got a huge hit, we played some good defense and [closer Francisco Cordero] locked it down. It was a nice game."
After giving up a leadoff single in the first inning, Arroyo retired 12 straight hitters. His streak was snapped, though, in the fifth, when Aaron Hill hit a 1-1 curveball over the left-field fence, giving Toronto a 1-0 edge.
The Blue Jays looked poised to add at least another run later in the inning, but a heads-up play by first baseman Joey Votto helped Arroyo escape the jam. Juan Rivera and J.P. Arencibia followed Hill's homer with back-to-back singles, giving Toronto runners on the corners with no outs. But John McDonald popped up a safety-squeeze bunt, and Votto snagged it before doubling up Rivera at third base.
"That probably changed the whole game," Arroyo said. "If I didn't get that right there, he gets the bunt down, they probably score a run -- and I've only got one out and they've got a guy on second base. That was huge, Votto being aware enough that the guy was off third base over the crowd noise."
Arroyo finished the inning by getting Blue Jays pitcher Carlos Villanueva to fly out, who himself seemed to have his way with the Reds for most of the game. Villanueva allowed just two earned on seven hits in seven innings but was saddled with a hard-luck loss.
His only black mark came in the sixth. After Votto singled, Cairo pulled a first-pitch fastball to left field for the go-ahead home run. Cairo said he was expecting the inside fastball that he got, but Villanueva said it was simply a misfire.
"I was supposed to go away there," he said. "If I get that pitch in the away lane, he's not going to hit a pitch to the opposite field. It's just that I dropped down my elbow a little bit, and it came right into his bat swing. Mistake, veteran hitter and he took advantage of it."
Cairo's homer snapped a 16-inning scoreless streak, which dated back to Friday night. However, the long ball did not exactly open up the floodgates.
Cincinnati threatened once more in the eighth, when Votto singled and Jay Bruce followed with a double. After Cairo struck out, reliever Octavio Dotel intentionally walked Fred Lewis to load the bases, and ended the threat by getting Edgar Renteria to fly out.
The Reds were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position both in Sunday's win and Saturday's loss, and Baker admitted consistently coming up short can weigh on a team's mind.
"You've got to dispel that feeling," he said. "Your attitude and outlook controls a lot in the ballgame, whether you know it or not. That's what I've learned over the course of the years. You try to dispel all those negative thoughts and feelings, and try to think that something good is going to happen. If you're in a tight ballgame, you have a good opportunity for something good to happen."
While the Reds couldn't come through when they had some opportunities on Sunday, they didn't need to because of Arroyo's effort -- even if the pitcher didn't have his best stuff. A win is a win -- particularly against an American League team. The Reds were 0-5 in Interleague games prior to Sunday.
"We didn't score too many runs the first two games, and we only scored two today. But Arroyo kept us in the game, and we got lucky to get a win," Cairo said. "When you play the American League -- and the East especially -- it's tough. Now we got the Yankees [staring on Monday]. They've got a pretty good team, they've got pretty good hitting. You just got to go out there and expect to win."
Tyler Jett is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.