Back on the winning track and with a deeper bullpen following the trade deadline, the Cincinnati Reds appear primed for a strong stretch run.
The Reds seek a second straight victory and 12th in 13 games Wednesday night when they play the third of four against the visiting San Diego Padres .
Jonathan Broxton is expected to be in uniform for this contest after the Reds (62-41) acquired him from Kansas City on Tuesday for two minor leaguers. Broxton has 107 career saves, including 23 in 27 chances this season for the Royals, but will fill a set-up role in Cincinnati with Aroldis Chapman currently dominating as the closer.
"It gives us another power arm in the bullpen," manager Dusty Baker said. "You can always use more pitching. You never know what's going to happen."
The Padres (44-61) are all too familiar with Broxton, whose 17 saves - in 17 opportunities - against them while with the Los Angeles Dodgers remain his most versus any opponent.
San Diego didn't fare any better Tuesday against Chapman, who retired the side in order in the ninth inning to convert his 14th consecutive save chance in Cincinnati's 7-6 victory. Ryan Ludwick homered, singled and had four RBIs for the Reds, who bounced back after having their 10-game winning streak snapped with an 11-5 defeat in Monday's series opener.
The NL Central leaders finished July with a 19-7 record, and improved to 12-3 while first baseman Joey Votto has been recovering from knee surgery. Ludwick is batting .356 with five homers during those 15 games.
"He's got his swagger back," Baker said. "He's feeling it. You need somebody hot in the middle of your lineup."
Cincinnati is averaging exactly seven runs in its last four games, and may have a good chance to keep the strong offense going Wednesday with Kip Wells (2-3, 3.82 ERA) set to take the ball for San Diego. The right-handed journeyman, who didn't make it back to the majors until June this season after the Reds released him in April 2010, is 2-11 with a 4.95 ERA in his career versus Cincinnati.
Wells didn't pitch poorly against the Reds at home July 6, yielding three runs in six-plus innings, but got charged with a 6-0 loss as Bronson Arroyo (6-6, 3.76) pitched a three-hitter.
Arroyo, who will oppose Wells again Wednesday, is now seeking his first three-game winning streak since June 13-25, 2011. After beating Milwaukee to notch his first home win of the season July 21, Arroyo scattered six hits and didn't walk a batter over 6 2-3 innings of Friday's 3-0 victory at Colorado.
The right-hander is 3-1 with a 2.82 ERA in his last six starts.
Wells is also coming off a solid outing, having allowed two runs in six innings of a 7-2 win Friday at Miami.
Losers of three of four and well outside of the playoff race, the Padres opted to stand pat at the trade deadline rather than deal away any of their veteran talent.
"You get tired of hearing about it and you want to have closure," San Diego third baseman Chase Headley , who had been the subject of trade rumors, told the team's official website. "Now ... at least you know where you're going to be."
Headley has two hits and five walks through the first two games of this series, but is 3 for 18 with six strikeouts and no walks against Arroyo.
|San Diego Padres|
|July 31, 2012||Yasmani Grandal||15-Day DL||Strained oblique|
|July 28, 2012||Joe Thatcher||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|July 26, 2012||Joe Thatcher||15-Day DL||Right knee tendinitis|
|July 18, 2012||Cameron Maybin||Day-to-Day||Sore right wrist|
|July 04, 2012||Andrew Cashner||15-Day DL||Strained muscle in right side|
|June 21, 2012||Anthony Bass||60-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|July 31, 2012||Brandon Phillips||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left calf|
|July 31, 2012||Bill Bray||15-Day DL||Lumbar muscle strain|
|July 31, 2012||Devin Mesoraco||Day-to-Day||Left game - dizziness|
|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|
CINCINNATI (AP) -- No Joey Votto . No Brandon Phillips . No problem for red-hot Ryan Ludwick and the Cincinnati Reds .
Ludwick homered and drove in four runs for the second consecutive game, and the Reds kept rolling along with a 6-4 win over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night.
Ludwick drove in the go-ahead run twice to lead the Reds (63-41) to their 19th victory in 22 games. Despite playing without Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips , they moved 22 games over .500 for the first time since Sept. 5, 2010.
"With Joey out, it's been different people at different times," said Ludwick, the former Padre who's hitting .388 (19 for 49) with six home runs and 20 runs batted in since the All-Star first baseman left the lineup July 16. "Phillips, myself, Zack Cozart , the pitching - everybody's pitching in. Now, with Phillips out, it's even more important for everybody to pitch in."
The Reds remained three games ahead of second-place Pittsburgh in the NL Central. The Pirates open a three-game series in Cincinnati on Friday.
Cozart also homered and Bronson Arroyo pitched six innings to earn his third straight win and fourth in five starts. Arroyo (7-6) allowed seven hits and four runs with two walks and one strikeout.
Sean Marshall worked a scoreless seventh and Jonathan Broxton a spotless eighth in his Cincinnati debut after being acquired Tuesday from Kansas City. Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for his 23rd save.
"This is a good team here," said Broxton, who arrived at the ballpark shortly before the first pitch and showed no signs of rust despite not having pitched since July 24. "I'm happy to be a part of it. Going from last place to first is a big jump."
Chase Headley homered for the Padres, who have lost three of four. They couldn't capitalize on the absence of Votto and Phillips, who form the right side of Cincinnati's regular infield.
Votto is on the disabled list following knee surgery, and Phillips sat out with a strained left calf.
San Diego led 4-3 when Drew Stubbs singled with one out in the fifth off Padres starter Kip Wells . Jay Bruce drove in Stubbs with a double down the right-field line. Dale Thayer got Scott Rolen to fly out before Ludwick lined a go-ahead single to right.
This is the Ludwick expected by manager Dusty Baker after the Reds signed him as a free agent in January.
"He's been an RBI man most of his career," Baker said. "This is the first time in the last couple of years where he wasn't traded at the deadline. He's doing everything in his power to try to find a home."
San Diego manager Bud Black wishes he'd seen this side of Ludwick when the two were together in San Diego over parts of the last two seasons.
"Ludwick has been hot over the last three weeks, not just this series," Black said. "He's really done well. When a hitter's in a groove like that, he's going to get his hits."
Arroyo walked Alexi Amarista on four pitches leading off the game. After Will Venable flied out, Headley hit a 1-0 pitch an estimated 406 feet into the right-field seats for his career-high 13th homer. His previous best was 12 in 2009.
Cozart, who opened Cincinnati's 6-0 win July 6 in San Diego with a home run off Wells, started the bottom of the first with his 11th homer. Ludwick gave Cincinnati a 3-2 lead by following Rolen's two-out walk with a drive to left on a 2-0 pitch for his 19th homer and fourth in five games.
"You can tell when the ball is hit whether it got squared enough," Wells said. "It isn't just the ballpark. The leadoff hitter got me in San Diego, too, to lead off the game. The ball Ludwick hit well enough as well. Ludwick hit a mistake, but he's in a groove right now and he's hot. If there's anybody you don't want to beat you right now, it's him. If you put them in a hitter's count or make a bad pitch, they are going to hit it more often than not."
San Diego took a 4-3 lead with a two-run fourth, stringing together consecutive two-out singles by Wells, Amarista, Venable and Headley.
"It was a battle, back-and-forth for a while," Arroyo said. "That's the way it's been the whole series. It was nice to come out with a win tonight."
Wells (2-4) spent 10 games with the Reds in 2009, his last major league appearances before this season. He allowed five runs and five hits with four walks in 4 1-3 innings.
NOTES: Phillips' replacement, Wilson Valdez , left after four innings with a stiff neck. ... The Reds placed suspended C Devin Mesoraco on the seven-day concussion disabled list. They also optioned RHP Todd Redmond to Triple-A Louisville and called up C Dioner Navarro from their top farm club. Mesoraco was injured Monday before being ejected for arguing balls and strikes with plate umpire Chad Fairchild. Mesoraco was suspended for three games and fined by Major League Baseball on Wednesday for poking a finger at Fairchild's chest protector and bumping him. Mesoraco is appealing the suspension.