Slugging Dunn leads Reds to victory
National League Player of the Month stays hot with five RBIs
CINCINNATI -- Adam Dunn isn't the type of guy to put much stock in awards. Not even the National League Player of the Month honor he earned for July."I have no idea what you get," he said Wednesday. A gold watch, he was informed. "Great," he said dryly. "A watch. That'll go to dad. No, maybe that'll go to grandpa." The family will collect the prize. Dunn will just keep piling up the numbers. Shortly after he was told he won the Player of the Month award, Dunn turned in a five-RBI game against the Braves to lead the Reds to an 8-5 victory before 37,157 at Great American Ball Park. It was a performance that meant more to him than any watch. "I really don't [care about awards]," Dunn said. "It's a great honor, don't get me wrong. But it's over now." Yep, and Dunn's sights are firmly set on August. And in this win on a humid summer night, that was good news for left-hander Brandon Claussen. The two-run homer Claussen allowed to Julio Franco in the fourth inning put the Reds in a 2-1 hole. But it was a deficit Dunn made short work of in the bottom of the inning. With Wily Mo Pena and Sean Casey aboard, Dunn worked left-hander Horacio Ramirez to a 3-1 count, found a pitch up in the zone and lofted it into the seats in right-center field for a three-run dinger, his 32nd of the season. "I was looking for a certain location, and he threw it right in that location," Dunn said. "If I'm looking there, and he throws it there, I should say normally I make contact, but you know how that goes." Dunn was referring to his massive strikeout total, which stands at a league-leading 113. But he wasn't worried about swinging freely in that at-bat. "Normally on 3-1 in that situation, I would have talked myself out of swinging," he said. "But [hitting coach] Chris Chambliss has instilled in me to be aggressive and to go down hacking." Dunn's aggression put the Reds up 4-2, and they would never trail again. He's the reason they would never trail again. In the sixth, the Reds loaded the bases for Dunn with no outs. A sacrifice fly situation, to be sure. But Dunn, rather famously, isn't prone to many sac flies. "His sac flies usually go in the seats," manager Jerry Narron said with a smile before the game. This one didn't, though. Instead, Dunn sent it to the right-field corner for a two-run double that broke the game open, 6-2. The five RBIs against a left-hander were pretty impressive for Dunn, considering he was hitting just .189 against lefties coming into this game. "I've been seeing them good all year," Dunn said. "I know my numbers stink, but I think I've been overly aggressive against them, trying to pull everything. I've usually hit lefties pretty well, but, for whatever reason, this year I haven't." But he hit the left-handed Ramirez quite well, and Claussen was the benefactor. After that early hiccup against Franco, Claussen was cruising. And the Reds had increased his cushion to 8-2 when Casey scored on a wild pitch by Jim Brower and Edwin Encarnacion tacked on an RBI single in the sixth. But when the game was delayed for about 12 minutes in the top of the seventh after home-plate umpire Chuck Meriwether was struck in the left hand by the broken bat of Rafael Furcal, Claussen seemed to lose his touch. He was charged with three runs after play resumed, and the Reds' lead was cut to 8-5. "I just left a couple pitches probably too much over the plate there," Claussen said. "I really believe if they had been a little bit further off, I don't think they would have hit them." No worries, though. Dunn had already hit plenty. And if he keeps it up, there's another gold watch in his family's future.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.