CINCINNATI -- Simple math made it official Wednesday, though the Reds took on the identity a little more than two months ago. Cincinnati is officially the spoiler now, able to throw rocks in the spokes of those still in the playoff mix with three weeks left in the regular season. Let the fun begin.
The Reds had a blast putting away the suddenly sputtering Cubs and hushing the thousands of Chicago fans who helped pack Great American Ball Park on Friday night. Cincinnati treated its side to a 10-2 victory that was all but wrapped up innings before the two fan bases dueled it out over whom exactly the home team was in "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." "You get a little more in your tank when they come to town," said Jay Bruce, whose fourth-inning grand slam provided the Reds with enough breathing room to coast through Friday's final five innings. "You got all the Cubs fans here and you notice, you notice the difference. I've had a good time doing it. "We're having a good time right now." With 21 games remaining, the Reds have 17 of those against teams that either lead their division, lead the Wild Card or stand within reasonable striking distance of the Wild Card. None, though, will likely go down as easy as Friday's runaway. And no inning may go easier than Bronson Arroyo's first inning, which was pushed back 17 minutes because of rain. Arroyo struck out Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot and Derrek Lee on 10 pitches to kick-start the feel-good night. "I painted some pitches and caught the guys off just a little bit with my pitch selection," Arroyo said. "I got some strikeouts, and that set the tone." Dusty Baker's reaction, meanwhile, was a bit more to the point. "That was awesome," the Reds manager said. "He had it clicking right away." So did the Reds' offense, which got to left-hander Ted Lilly early when Joey Votto launched a two-run homer deep over the right-field fence to put the Reds up 2-0. The Reds didn't let up in the second inning, when Jeff Keppinger's double scored Ryan Hanigan to make the lead 3-0. After Brandon Phillips was intentionally walked to load the bases, Votto walked on four pitches to tack on another run. Edwin Encarnacion's sacrifice fly scored Keppinger to put the Reds up 5-0. "You want to take [the Cubs fans] out of the game so they don't excite their team," said Baker, who tied Harry Wright with 1,225 career wins, good for 35th all-time. "We did it early in the game." With Lilly out after just two innings, the Reds went right back to work against Jon Lieber in the fourth inning. Keppinger led off with a single and advanced to third on Phillips' bloop double. After Votto was intentionally walked to load the bases and Encarnacion flew out, Bruce launched a 2-1 fastball over the left-center-field fence for his 16th homer of the year to put the game well out of reach. Chalk up another first for the rookie phenom, as Bruce's grand slam was the first of his Major League career -- and beyond. "It was actually the first of my whole life," said Bruce, who added a double in the seventh inning before coming around to score on a Hanigan RBI single. "I've had a lot of firsts this year, and I'm just glad I can help the team win." Even with the huge lead, Arroyo would have put the Reds in position to win if it were a pitchers' duel. The 31-year-old right-hander allowed just four hits -- three infield singles -- over 6 1/3 innings before he was pulled after allowing an RBI double to Koyie Hill. His season-high 122-pitch effort was good for his 14th win of the season, his fourth straight overall and his third straight over the Cubs. "He's getting on a roll right here," Baker said. "We'll just try to ride it all the way to the end of the season and hope it carries over." Arroyo helped the fun carry over into the Reds clubhouse afterward, as he covered the name on the back of his jersey with black tape and replaced it with a different identity -- Sesenta y Uno. Inspired by the Cincinnati Bengals receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson, who legally changed his name to Chad Ocho Cinco this week, Arroyo jokingly vowed that he would no longer talk to reporters unless they referred to him as "Sesenta y Uno," which translates to his No. 61 in Spanish. Por que? "I'm half Hispanic," Arroyo said, "so I can do it for real."
Andrew Gribble is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.