First-place Cincinnati seeks its fifth win in seven meetings with Milwaukee when it hosts the opener of a three-game series Friday night.
Votto was hitting .342 when he had surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee Tuesday. The Reds lost two of their first three games without Votto, scoring a combined eight runs, before falling behind 6-0 to Arizona on Thursday.
Phillips, though, hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning and a tying two-run double in the seventh, then scored the go-ahead run later in that inning as Cincinnati won 7-6. He's hitting .438 over his last eight.
"Brandon can hit all over the order," manager Dusty Baker said. "He's the only guy we've got who can do that. This lets you know you can come back. It shows us what we can do without Joey. You've just got to keep doing what you can do."
The Reds (52-40) have won four of the first six meetings with Milwaukee (44-47), which has won six of nine and is 7 1/2 games behind the division leaders.
" Joey Votto is out for the next month - that completely changes the dynamic of the division," Ryan Braun told the Brewers' official website. "When one of the teams ahead of you loses its best player for a month, that changes everything.
"There is no good reason to lose optimism when there are still all of these games left."
Braun hopes to be back in the lineup for the series opener after sitting out Wednesday's 4-3 win over St. Louis due to a right groin strain.
He's 6 for 14 with four extra-base hits over the past 2 1/2 seasons against Homer Bailey , who takes the mound for the Reds on Friday.
Bailey (8-6, 3.93 ERA) has won three consecutive starts, posting a 1.99 ERA, after giving up one earned run in eight innings of a 4-2 victory over St. Louis on Sunday.
The right-hander went into his last outing 1-4 with a 5.86 ERA at home, including giving up five runs in four innings of an 8-4 loss to the Brewers on June 27.
Bailey also allowed six runs in 3 2-3 innings of an 8-3 defeat at Milwaukee on May 8, and he's 0-5 with a 6.50 ERA in 10 career starts versus the Brewers. Rickie Weeks is 11 for 21 with two homers against him but enters this contest batting .197.
Milwaukee counters with Marco Estrada (0-3, 4.13), who has 29 strikeouts over his last three starts. He had 11 on Saturday, giving up three runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-4 loss to Pittsburgh.
The right-hander did not get a decision in that game or June 26 against the Reds despite striking out a career-high 12, allowing three runs in six innings of a 4-3 loss. He's 1-2 with a 4.33 ERA in seven career appearances - three starts - versus Cincinnati.
Phillips is 6 for 12 against him. Jay Bruce is 4 for 11 with three homers off Estrada but is in an 0-for-16 drought.
|July 17, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Right thigh strain|
|June 15, 2012||Shaun Marcum||15-Day DL||Right elbow tightness|
|June 02, 2012||Aramis Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left quadricep|
|May 31, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Tight Achilles|
|May 28, 2012||Jonathan Lucroy||15-Day DL||Fractured right hand, out 4-6 weeks|
|May 26, 2012||Cesar Izturis||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|July 16, 2012||Joey Votto||Day-to-Day||Torn meniscus, left knee - out 3-4 weeks|
|July 16, 2012||Joey Votto||15-Day DL||Torn meniscus, left knee|
|June 30, 2012||Joey Votto||Day-to-Day||Left game - left knee inflammation|
|June 28, 2012||Brandon Phillips||Day-to-Day||Head|
|June 12, 2012||Zack Cozart||Day-to-Day||Illness|
|June 06, 2012||Drew Stubbs||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Homer Bailey knew his history against the Milwaukee Brewers was a case of bad and worse. For the first time, he came away a winner.
Bailey matched his career high with 10 strikeouts while pitching eight innings for his first career win over Milwaukee on Friday night, leading Cincinnati to a 3-1 victory that preserved the Reds' lead in the NL Central.
Zack Cozart , Jay Bruce and Scott Rolen hit solo homers as the Reds won nine of their last 11 games, moving 13 games over .500 for the first time this season. But it was Bailey who got the attention.
"He works at it," manager Dusty Baker said. "He wants to be great."
Bailey (9-6) has beaten the defending World Series champion Cardinals and the defending division champion Brewers in his last two starts. He's won four straight starts for the first time in his career.
"I've kind of established a little bit of a routine," Bailey said. "I'm getting better at knowing what I need to do to prepare every day and now it's just leading to success."
The latest win was perhaps the best measure of how far he's come. The right-hander had been 0-5 in 10 career games against Milwaukee.
"Everybody knows when you're a starting pitcher, you always have teams you don't do well against," Bailey said. "I knew I never really did well against that team. You just try to put it behind you and make some pitches."
Cozart, Bruce and Rolen homered off Marco Estrada (0-4), who gave up seven hits overall in seven innings. Bruce and Rolen connected on 2-0 pitches one out apart to provide the winning margin.
Left-hander Aroldis Chapman struck out two in the ninth for his 16th save in 20 chances, hitting 100 mph with two of his 13 pitches. Twenty-five of his last 31 outs have come by strikeout.
Milwaukee came out of the All-Star break looking to make up ground in a stretch of games against Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Cincinnati. The Brewers have won four of seven and remain stranded in fourth place, now 8 1/2 games back, matching their biggest deficit.
Afterward, Estrada angrily tossed a towel into his locker and stared ahead for a few seconds with his head down, unhappy with those two homers he gave up in the seventh inning.
"We need these games, especially against this team," Estrada said. "They're in first place and we're trying to catch up. When you go out and make dumb mistakes in the seventh inning, it kills you inside. Every pitch counts now. I threw really bad pitches at 2-0. It's really frustrating."
They couldn't do much against Bailey, who gave up six hits and matched his career high by fanning 10. Norichika Aoki 's RBI double broke his shutout in the eighth.
Cozart's homer barely cleared the wall in left field with one out in the fourth. His first homer since July 6 made it 73 consecutive games with a homer at Great American Ball Park, the longest streak since Coors Field had 80 games in a row with a homer in 2002-03, according to STATS LLC.
Bruce hit his first homer since July 8 leading off the seventh inning. In his previous at-bat, Bruce doubled to snap an 0-for-19 skid that matched the longest of his career.
One out later, Rolen hit his first homer since June 22. The three homers were a season high off Estrada, who had allowed only 11 homers all season.
It was another solid but empty outing by Estrada, who has made four appearances since returning from the disabled list with a strained right thigh. He has given up three runs or less in each of those starts without getting a win.
The Reds have struggled offensively since Monday, when first baseman Joey Votto learned he needed surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. He had surgery on Tuesday and is expected to miss three to four weeks. He was in the clubhouse on Friday to get treatment, moving around with the help of one crutch.
The solo homers pulled them through.
Ryan Braun was back in the Brewers lineup after sitting out a game because of a sore groin. He singled in his first two at-bats, making him the 11th player in franchise history with 1,000 career hits.
NOTES: Braun tied Jeff Cirillo on the franchise list with 1,000 hits. ... Zack Greinke played catch on Friday and will throw in the bullpen on Saturday, getting ready for a start next Tuesday in Philadelphia. Manager Ron Roenicke decided to have him skip his last start because of fatigue. "He should be right back on track," Roenicke said. "He seems to be throwing fine. It's about his confidence as much as anything." ... Reds C Devin Mesoraco extended his hitting streak to a career-high eight games.
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