06/07/08 12:35 AM ET
Big day for bats; solid day for Griffey
Bats notch 17 hits; Bruce drives in three, Cueto fans eight
By Charlie Nobles / Special to MLB.com
"It was bound to happen," Phillips said after Cincinnati had routed Florida at Dolphin Stadium, 11-3. "You look at our past few games, and we hit the ball hard right at people. Today, we hit the ball where they weren't."
Phillips proved an early catalyst. He started the hit parade with a two-out, two-run third-inning single off the Marlins' hard-throwing lefty, Andrew Miller.
"He is going to be great, but tonight he had control problems," Phillips said. "I was looking for something out over the plate and whatever he threw there, I was going to swing. Thank God it was a hanging curveball, and I hit it right where he threw it."
The Reds hit high gear from then on, as rookie Jay Bruce, who had taken two straight 0-for-4s, led the way with three runs batted in to help the Reds reach 30-32. Phillips and Jerry Hairston each wound up with two RBIs.
"Some balls I hit in Philadelphia could easily have gone either way," Bruce said. "So I broke out of it here."
Ken Griffey Jr. commanded much of the spotlight coming into the game. He didn't get his historic 600th home run, but he was in the middle of the Reds' offensive fun. He had a double, single and two walks in five at-bats, before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the ninth.
The offensive outburst helped Johnny Cueto even his record at 5-5. The young right-hander labored at times, allowing eight hits -- including two home runs, both to Jorge Cantu -- walking three and giving up three runs in six innings. But he particularly frustrated the Marlins in the fifth, when he escaped a bases-loaded situation by striking out Matt Treanor on a full-count pitch.
Manager Dusty Baker said he walked out to see Cueto before he faced Treanor.
"I said, 'Come on, dude. Do you want the game?'" Baker said.
Cueto got Baker's message. The manager said he likely would have pulled Cueto had he walked Treanor.
"He's learning from his bad experiences," Baker said of Cueto. "You see him now back off the mound when he doesn't have it together. That's a sign of maturity."
Cueto struck out eight, mostly with a live fastball.
"When he commands his fastball," said catcher Paul Bako, "he's tough for anybody to hit."
Bako said that because Cueto throws so many strikes, he's bound to give up a home run here and there. "The key is to limit them to being solo shots," Bako said. "Limit the damage."
That's what Cueto did Friday night.
The Reds have had trouble winning on the road this season, but you couldn't tell it Friday night. The visitors entered the game having lost four of their last five road games and 15 of their last 19. They had scored just eight runs in four road games at Philadelphia preceding this series.
Yet Phillips' two-run single opened the door for the Reds to have a big night. Singles by Bruce and Hairston scored two more in the fourth, and a four-run fifth inning left no doubt about the outcome.
Joey Votto, who scored twice in the game, hit a one-out single to start the fifth-inning explosion. An out later, Bako walked. That's when Cueto bounced a single through the middle for his first Major League hit in 19 at-bats this season -- and his first RBI.
Hairston then scored a run with a ground-rule double and Bruce added an exclamation point with his two-run single.
The Reds added three runs in the seventh on RBIs from Griffey, Votto and pinch-hitter Andy Phillips. The Reds haven't scored this many runs since April 9, when they reached 12 against Milwaukee.
The only sobering note of the night came in the sixth inning, when third baseman Edwin Encarnacion was hit on the left elbow with a pitch. Encarnacion wore a wrap on the elbow afterward. He said it felt tight, but hoped to play Saturday if it should feel better.
Baker said X-rays on the elbow were negative, so it could only be a day or two absence for Encarnacion.
"He's sore, and when you're sore after getting hit on the elbow, it's like a rusty hinge," Baker said. "I'd say he's doubtful for tomorrow. He thinks he's probable."
Charlie Nobles is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.