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CIN@CHC: Phillips shines at the plate, in the field

CHICAGO -- It wasn't so much the distance, but Brandon Phillips' third-inning grand slam was hit out of sight for many of the spectators at Wrigley Field.

Phillips crushed a 1-1 curveball from Cubs starter Scott Feldman through a thick fog that blanketed the air all night and into the left-field seats for his fifth career grand slam and 10th homer of the year. Those four runs in the third were enough to propel the Reds to a 6-2 win over the Cubs in the series opener Monday night.

By night's end, Phillips tied a career high with six RBIs -- his first-inning single gave Cincinnati a 1-0 lead and an eighth-inning groundout drove in the Reds' final run of the evening -- while tying Joe Morgan for most career home runs for a Reds second baseman (152) and passing Morgan for first in RBIs (615).

"The fog, it was coming in and out," Phillips said. "For me to hit the ball the way I did today, I think the fog wasn't [there] when I was up to bat. Maybe it was when everyone else was up to bat."

Phillips, as it turned out, was responsible for the first seven runs of the game. His throwing error in the sixth inning led to Chicago's first run, before Starlin Castro doubled home a run in the ninth.

It was the Reds' 10th consecutive win against the Cubs in Chicago, and 17th win in their last 20 matchups.

"I don't count," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Just keep on rolling."

But more important for the Reds, it started the four-game series off on a positive note after they dropped a home weekend set against the first-place Cardinals.

"You can't bring it back," Baker said. "It's in the past. We've got to learn from it, because we were embarrassed over the weekend -- personally, as an organization and as a team."

The fog dominated the playing surface and the conversation of the evening, with Reds outfielders hardly visible from home plate, their grey road uniforms shrouded in the mist.

However, the play of the game was hardly affected, though the White Sox-Blue Jays game being played just miles south was delayed more than an hour. And the conditions certainly didn't hinder Reds starter Homer Bailey's performance.

Bailey was fantastic against a dormant Cubs lineup, striking out eight in eight innings while scattering just four hits and one unearned run. With Cincinnati's bullpen beleaguered, Bailey's third start this season lasting at least eight innings was vital.

"That's just a tribute to why we work out in the offseason and why we work out between starts and do our running and lifting," Bailey said. "When the time comes and we need to go back out there after 100 pitches for one more inning, there's plenty of juice."

The same couldn't be said for Feldman, who was knocked around early. Bailey led off the third with a single before Zack Cozart and Joey Votto also singled to set the table for Phillips.

"I hung a couple pitches to start off the third," Feldman said. "I hung a curveball to Bailey and he was able to get a single, and they got a couple guys on, and I hung the big one there to Brandon Phillips."

After going 2-for-12 in his previous three games since missing four with a bruised left forearm, Phillips said he spoke to his father before the game and he was encouraged not to change anything at the plate.

"He said, 'Stay in yourself and try to trick your mind a little bit,'" Phillips said. "'Don't try to worry about it, just go up there.' And I can't believe I had a game like I did today."

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