Six homers lead Reds rout

Six homers lead Reds rout

CHICAGO -- For those of you scoring at home, Bronson Arroyo now has two mo' than Wily Mo.

With a stiff 17-mph wind blowing out of Wrigley Field as the Reds and Cubs played Tuesday afternoon, the ball was destined to leave the ballpark often. Still, few expected that another one would have been hit by Arroyo, the starting pitcher who connected for his second home run in six days.

It was one of six Cincinnati long balls launched during an easy 9-2 win over Chicago. Besides Arroyo, Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn (twice), Edwin Encarnacion (grand slam) and Austin Kearns all cleared the fences.

"I got lucky again. I'll just keep hacking," Arroyo joked.

More impressive than his sudden home run prowess, Arroyo (2-0) prevented the Cubs from equaling the Reds' power surge. In fact, he prevented the Cubs from doing much of anything over seven scoreless innings. The right-hander allowed six hits -- all singles -- and struck out four while not walking a batter for his second-straight start.

"What he did today with the wind blowing out here and against that lineup, that's pretty incredible," said Dunn, who hit solo homers in both the second and fourth innings. "He keeps everybody off balance and it seems like we play really well behind him."

Cubs starter Glendon Rusch (0-2) gave up four solo blasts in five innings -- one in each of the first four innings.

"Guys weren't up there swinging for home runs," said Griffey, who made it 1-0 in the first inning with his second homer of the season and 538th of his career. "We tried to make solid contact. We got a couple of balls in the air and they went out."

It was 2-0 game when Arroyo led off the third inning and took Rusch's 2-2 fastball deep to left field. It wasn't a cheap homer -- the ball carried over the bleachers and onto Waveland Avenue.

Last Wednesday in his Reds' debut, Arroyo hit a homer off Rusch in his first at-bat at Great American Ball Park. Before that, he had never hit a homer at any professional level.

On Tuesday, Arroyo knew immediately that the ball was going out. He smiled and shook his head in as he trotted from of the batter's box towards first base.

"I really just couldn't believe where the pitch was. It was almost identical to last time," Arroyo said. "I thought he was going to throw me away and it was still kind of middle-in a little bit. I was just surprised.

"Unfortunately for me, I might not see anymore fastballs. You'll see about 35 punch outs in the next 35 at-bats."

Dave Burba was the last Reds pitcher to homer in consecutive appearances, on July 14 and July 19, 1996. While 18 Cincinnati pitchers have had two-homer seasons, including Eric Milton last season, only eight have had three-homer seasons -- the last being Tom Seaver in 1977. Hal Jeffcoat holds the record with four homers in 1957.

To shore up their rotation, the Reds acquired Arroyo from the Red Sox on March 20 for power-hitting prodigy Wily Mo Pena. Some Cincinnati fans voiced concern over losing Pena, who was known for hitting awe-inspiring dingers.

Pena has yet to connect for a homer with Boston. Considering he's barely had time to take batting practice since the trade, who would have thought Arroyo would hit two?

"The dude's locked in at the plate, hitting-wise," Cubs catcher Michael Barrett said of Arroyo.

He was locked in, pitching-wise too. By the time Dunn hit his second homer to make it a 4-0 game, Arroyo already was in total command. He was not afraid to start hitters with breaking pitches and also had good location of his sinker pitch.

"He kept the ball down and got a lot of ground balls early," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "The reputation is he's a fly-ball guy and he kept the ball down and got ground balls, especially early in the game. He's the type of guy, when he gets a lead, he's not going to hurt himself."

Knowing the wind wasn't favorable for fly-ball pitchers, Arroyo specified his game plan to catcher David Ross before the game.

"I was going down in the tunnel and said to give me a lower target," Arroyo said. "It doesn't always work like that, but I had good command on my fastball and good sink. Once you're up 4-0, you can try to really bury it down and in and force those guys to try and take the game from you."

They couldn't. It turned into a rout in the sixth when Encarnacion launched the first grand slam of his career to left field off reliever Will Ohman. One pitch later, Kearns hit a blast to center field and made it 9-0.

Power hitters, plus Arroyo, plus wind resulted in a very good day for Reds.

"I don't know. I guess these new ballparks are built smaller than they used to be," Narron joked dryly.

For the Cubs facing Arroyo, maybe not so small at all.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.