Reds leave Chicago with a win

Reds leave Chicago with a win

CHICAGO -- Everyone on the Reds team knew they had to have this one -- no ifs, ands or buts. The alternative was just too unpleasant to consider.

So as Bronson Arroyo scuffled Thursday, his lineup kept picking him up -- again and again. Seven home runs got the job done as the Reds split town with a 12-7 win over the first-place Cubs to avoid what could have been a devastating three-game sweep.

"It was a big game for us to win today and not get swept," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Our offense took over today. It was big to see our offense break out like that and keep scoring, because in this ballpark you're never comfortable. I don't care what the lead is."

On a muggy day with a stiff 12 mph wind blowing out of Wrigley Field, Edwin Encarnacion, Brandon Phillips, Ken Griffey Jr., David Ross (twice), Adam Dunn and Joey Votto were the slugging six. They accounted for seven long balls, tying a team season high. Every Cincinnati starter, except Arroyo, had at least one hit, and the 18 hits were a season high for a nine-inning game.

At the midpoint of a six-game road trip, the Reds are desperate to head into the All-Star break on an optimistic note. It didn't start off well, with two decisive losses to Chicago on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Everybody has been trying to do too much here," said Griffey, who hit his 12th homer of the season and No. 605 for his career in the fourth inning. "That's what we've doing all year."

It looked like too much might not be enough as Arroyo (7-7) gave up five earned runs, seven hits and three walks over five innings. Ryan Theriot's two-run single in the second gave Chicago a 3-1 lead. The Reds had an 8-3 advantage when Mike Fontenot's two-run homer in the fourth kept the game close.

The big Reds innings were a three-run third and a four-run fourth. In the third, Griffey hit an RBI double and Phillips hit a Ted Lilly first pitch for a two-run homer to left-center field, his 15th of the year. Lilly (9-6) was chased from the game after only 2 2/3 innings with four earned runs allowed.

Four straight hits began the Reds' fourth against reliever Michael Wuertz. That included a three-run homer by Griffey, who finished with a four-RBI day. In the fifth, Ross went the opposite way for solo homer near the right-field corner against Jon Lieber to make it 9-5.

"It's always nice to five and dive and walk out with a four-run lead after giving up five," Arroyo said.

In the sixth, Dunn made it a 10-5 game when his solo homer sailed over the right-field bleachers onto Sheffield Avenue. Two unearned runs crossed in the Cubs' sixth because of Encarnacion's throwing error on a fielder's-choice play.

More breathing room came as Ross led off the seventh with his second homer of the game -- this time a shot to left field. It gave the Reds a home run in six straight innings, marking the first time they'd done so since Sept. 4, 1999, when they slugged homers over seven consecutive innings at Philadelphia.

In the ninth inning, Votto punctuated the afternoon with a solo shot to left-center field.

"When you give up a couple of runs and the team answers back, it's the sign of a good team," said Ross, who has only three homers for the season. "It was nice to answer back. You kept feeling like you had the chance to win."

Had the Reds left town 0-3, they would have faced the prospect of a miserable ending to the first half in Milwaukee. The pitching matchups aren't favorable in two of the games, with hot-throwing Manny Parra pitching for the Brewers vs. Josh Fogg on Friday and callup Homer Bailey getting a spot start vs. CC Sabathia on Sunday. Edinson Volquez starts for the Reds on Saturday against Seth McClung.

"On days when your pitching is not right, you want your offense to be right. That's what happened today," Baker said. "It's one of the few times all year when one side isn't clicking, the other side is. Hopefully we can end this first half with a bang in Milwaukee."

The Reds (44-49) are in fourth place in the National League Central, 11 1/2 games behind the Cubs. The third-place Brewers are seven games ahead of Cincinnati.

"When you're playing the teams in front of you, you have to try and help yourself," Griffey said. "Nobody else is going to do it."

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