Reds use long balls to snap skid
Phillips, Gomes, Encarnacion go deep; Bailey impressive
CINCINNATI -- After being battered and beaten during an 0-6 road trip vs. top teams like the Dodgers and Cubs, Monday's return home to play the Padres was something that seemed truly heaven-sent for the Reds.With four homers in fitting support of starter Homer Bailey's strong 7 1/3-inning performance, the Reds pounded their way to a 6-4 win at Great American Ball Park. At 4-20 in July, the Padres are one of the few teams that have been struggling harder than Cincinnati. It was only the third time in the past 19 games since July 4 that a Reds starter won a game, and it was the first time during that stretch the starter wasn't named Bronson Arroyo. "This is a big game for us," said right fielder Jonny Gomes, who slugged two solo homers in the win. "Coming home, winning at home, getting a good outing from our starting pitcher, it was pretty much everything we needed and everything we've been lacking happened today, which means we can do it. That means there is an upside. We just have to build off of today." Bailey (2-2) established himself early and tied his career high in innings pitched. He gave up three earned runs and six hits with one walk and four strikeouts. Coming off of two lackluster outings in a row, this was a nice pickup for the 23-year-old right-hander. "It was primarily fastballs. I just tried to go after guys," Bailey said. "The bullpen has been used a lot. Once we got the big lead, I was thinking, 'All right, you have to get guys out early, get ahead in the count, try to get as deep in this game as you can.'" Bailey certainly succeeded in that regard. He threw 111 pitches in the game but needed just eight pitches to retire his final four batters he faced. The Reds, who came in batting .247 as a team and were ranked only ahead of San Diego's .230 average in the National League, offered Bailey ample run support with a 5-0 through four innings -- all via the long ball. With one out in the Cincinnati first, Brandon Phillips went deep against Padres starter Josh Geer (1-7) for a three-run homer to left field. Leading off the second, Gomes hit a full-count slider for a homer to left, and Edwin Encarnacion made it 5-0 with a leadoff homer to left field on the first pitch in the fourth. This was despite losing best hitter Joey Votto, who was ejected in the bottom of the first inning for arguing a check-swing strike-three call. Votto gestured several times at third-base umpire Jerry Crawford, who made the appeal call. Bailey also benefitted from nice defense from center fielder Willy Taveras, who had two assists. Taveras threw out Kyle Blanks at the plate with a one-hop throw in the second and later Adrian Gonzalez on a throw to third base on a double play that ended the fourth. "Boy, it was good to win," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "When you're losing like that, even if you have a lead, you don't feel comfortable. You have to refrain from thinking negative thoughts." San Diego picked up a run in the fifth on Luis Rodriguez's RBI single and then hit two homers in the top of the sixth with back-to-back shots from Everth Cabrera and Gonzalez against Bailey that briefly made it a two-run game. "At that point, when we're up like that, I'm just thinking about going after guys with the fastball to get them to put it in play," Bailey said. "Gonzalez has a lot of pop the other way." Gomes got one run back in the bottom of the sixth, when he hit a 2-1 fastball for a solo homer to right field against reliever Edward Mujica. Reliever Arthur Rhodes finished the top of the eighth for Bailey. Francisco Cordero surrendered a Kevin Kouzmanoff homer in the ninth but still notched his 23rd save. At 45-53, eight games below .500 and just four days away from the July 31 Trade Deadline, the Reds are doing all they can to hang on in a National League Central race that is slipping away. They entered the night 7 1/2 games out of first place and just 1 1/2 games ahead of the sixth-place Pirates. Before Monday, Cincinnati was 2-8 coming out of the All-Star break. "It seems like it's hard to remember the last game that we won because of the last road trip," Baker said. "It left a really sour taste in your mouth. You can't sleep. You're not hungry. You don't feel like being around people. You don't feel like talking to anybody. I feel like eating tonight. I'm hungry."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.