Phillips big in sweep
Following losses in back-to-back series, a 12-5 Reds thumping of Cleveland Thursday gave them a three-game sweep and 5-4 homestand.
Click here for the game story on MLB.com
Lots of additional stuff to get to in this one….
The Three Stars:
No. 3 star: Ryan Ludwick — 3-for-5, 2-run HR — Ludwick smashed a two-run homer in the big five-run, 11-batter bottom of the fifth against lefty Scott Barnes. Despite only a .215 average, Ludwick has nine homers and 29 RBIs this season.
“Ryan Ludwick certainly has a track record,” Joey Votto said. “You wouldn’t think he couldn’t get it going like he can at some point. He certainly is doing it with the power. I’m sure he’ll have a stretch where he gets going with the hits and puts together a really good year altogether.”
No. 2 star: Joey Votto — 1-for-3, 3-run HR — When the Reds were down by a 2-0 score in the top of the first, Votto smoked a three-run homer to center field off of Josh Tomlin that put them up for good.
“It’s not like I react to when they put together some runs and all of a sudden you feel you need to bounce back right away,” Votto said. “You just have to put the pedal to the metal all the time and stay on it all the time. At some point the better team will prevail.”
No. 1 star: Brandon Phillips — 3-for-5, solo HR, 4 RBIs. Phillips finished the series 8-for-12 in another big game. Not only did Phillips go deep again to lead off the third, he made Cleveland pay for walking Votto ahead of him in the fourth and fifth innings. Votto has a MLB-leading 11 intentional walks this season. After the intentional in the fourth, Phillips lunged at an outside pitch and pushed it to right field for a two-run single.
“It’s like more motivation to me,” Phillips said. “I wasn’t coming through at the beginning. I just started saying I need to show these guys that I can hit behind Joey. I’m not a typical No. 4 hitter. I did it before and it’s not my first rodeo. I feel more comfortable in different spots in the lineup. But on this team, somebody has to hit fourth. I’m up to the challenge. I’ve been doing OK. Earlier I wasn’t doing my job. I can’t do my job every day but when we really need some RBIs, I feel like I’m the guy you can call on. I think I’ve been doing my job lately.”
*To show they are serious contender, more Reds besides Votto have to come through in the clutch. Phillips has 20 RBIs in his last 17 games. That’s a good place to start.
News and notes:
*Chris Heisey exited the game for a pinch-runner in the fifth. Heisey was removed as a precaution because of a mild strain of his left groin. That’s a tough injury because he has to run a lot, and he’s been playing center field for an injured Drew Stubbs, who has been out since June 5 with an oblique injury. There are no available outfielders at Triple-A Louisville on the 40-man roster.
“Groins can be tricky, so they just wanted me to make sure I get the rest of the day and tomorrow,” Heisey said. “We’ll see how it feels tomorrow. I think hopefully I’ll be fine. Just a little bit of a tightness thing.”
*If the Reds need a center fielder for a couple of days, they could turn to Jay Bruce. He played 35 games there in 2008. Kristopher Negron, while not an offensive force, can also play there as can Wilson Valdez.
*Catcher Devin Mesoraco was lifted before the top of the ninth with muscle cramps in his side.
“We’ll see how it feels tomorrow and get some treatment,” Mesoraco said. “It’ll be fine.”
*Reds starter Mike Leake did not qualify for the win, because he lasted only 4 1/3 innings. He allowed 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K and had 84 pitches. He was trying to bounce back from the stomach bug that scratched his originally scheduled start Wednesday.
“Today was a gutsy performance by Leake,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We were going to try to go with him as long as we could. We had hoped he’d go 75 pitches and he ended up going  pitches. We were trying to get him the win and he came close. Had we turned that double play then he might have gotten it. I always try to get my pitcher the win, but at that point we had to win one for the team.”
*Negron notched his first big league hit with a lined single to center field as a pinch-hitter in the fifth.
*The Reds outscored Cleveland, 24-9, and out-hit them by a 34-24 margin in the series. The 17 hits on Thursday were a season-high.
*And in case you missed it, here is the latest story on Dusty Baker and Derek Lowe from before the game today. I’ve never seen Baker this angry before.
“You look at Brandon, he had a great series. Everybody wants somebody else to bat cleanup, but this guy is closing in on 40 RBIs in his time and he’s hitting around .290-something batting cleanup. So other than Joey, he’s the next best I think with runners in scoring position for a large number of opportunities. So it is nice to get him swinging good. Now we’ve got to get some other guys hopefully.” — Dusty Baker
“That’s not the way you wanted to finish a road trip. But, you’ve got to give them credit. They beat us on both sides of the ball. Their starters pretty much held our offense down and then they out-hit us, too. They especially took advantage of our middle relievers. They basically beat us at both ends.” — Indians manager Manny Acta
“I wasn’t hitting a ton of spots today but I was able to get some outs. I tried to get as many innings as I could.” — Mike Leake
“It feels good to sweep these guys. They’re a tough ball team. I feel like we got some key hits in key situations. I think that’s the reason we won this series, plus great pitching also.” — Brandon Phillips