Kubel's pair of homers leads D-backs past Reds

Kubel's pair of homers leads D-backs past Reds

Kubel's pair of homers leads D-backs past Reds
CINCINNATI -- It didn't take long for Jason Kubel to get back into the swing of things.

After missing the past four games with soreness in his left hamstring, it took just one swing from the D-backs' left fielder to leave his mark on the game.

Kubel bombed the second pitch he saw over the wall in center field for a two-run blast in the top of the first inning, giving the D-backs a lead they would never surrender on their way to a 7-1 victory against the Reds in Great American Ball Park.

"It took me a little while," Kubel joked. "It was nice to be out there and being able to contribute right away. It was a nice, fun win today."

He didn't stop there.

Kubel stepped back to the plate again in the fourth inning and sent another 400-plus foot homer into the stands in right-center field.

With two swings, Kubel knocked his 16th and 17th home runs of the season, both off Reds' starter Mat Latos, who lasted just 4 2/3 innings after giving up five runs on six hits.

"You throw a pitch out over the middle of the plate and it doesn't really matter what kind of hitter he is," said Latos, who recorded his first loss since April 18, his second start of the season. "He's going to hit the ball hard. The first one was a fastball right down the middle and the second one was a slider right down the middle."

Kubel's status had been unknown for D-backs manager Kirk Gibson for the past few days.

Kubel continued to tell his skipper he was ready to go, but Gibson sided with safety, opting to give him more rest.

"I understood why," said Kubel, who finished the game 2-for-4. "I was hoping, in Chicago, to be ready for the first game [in Cincinnati]. That didn't happen, so I was hoping to get ready for yesterday, that didn't happen. It was only four days, at least it wasn't a week or two."

Gibson said he and head athletic trainer Ken Crenshaw ran Kubel through several drills before Tuesday's contest and felt comfortable enough to return him to the lineup Wednesday -- a decision he undoubtedly did not regret.

"We wanted to tax it a little bit as opposed to just putting him in the game and have him have to run for a ball immediately," Gibson said. "Obviously, Kubel back in the lineup was very big for us today. I felt like he was much improved. We had a good workout with him yesterday and he came back today and wasn't sore at all."

Kubel initially irritated the hamstring in Chicago. But even with stormy pregame conditions haunting Cincinnati on Wednesday, Gibson said the club was confident Kubel's hamstring would hold up.

The offensive outburst was certainly appreciated by the D-backs, but thankfully not needed as Ian Kennedy tossed what was probably his best outing of the season.

The 2011 Breakout Player of the Year tied a season-high by going eight innings, giving up just one run on eight hits while striking out seven.

"[Miguel Montero] and I worked well tonight," Kennedy said. "Threw a lot a strikes, got ahead real early and even when they put the ball in play I knew that they were an aggressive team and they sometimes were going to put the ball in play and get hits. "Putting us on the board there early, it makes you pitch more aggressive, because you have that lead."

Kennedy threw first-pitch strikes to 23 of the 33 batters he faced, earning his seventh win of the season.

Entering the game ranked in the bottom five in the league in runs scored in July, the high run production was just what the D-backs needed entering the finale of the four-game series vs. Cincinnati.

"We kept tacking on runs as the game went on which is a good sign," Kubel said. "We haven't been doing too much of that lately. It was an all-around good game."

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