Arroyo's homer lifts Reds in Arizona

Arroyo's homer lifts Reds in Arizona

Arroyo's homer lifts Reds in Arizona
PHOENIX -- As the Reds moved their weary selves into Arizona for a three-game series with the promise of the much-needed off-day on the other side, they will accept contributions from all corners of the clubhouse.

In a 3-2 Reds win over the D-backs, most of the storylines happened to come from Bronson Arroyo's corner. Not only did Arroyo pitch well for six innings, it was his home run in the top of the sixth inning that held up as the game winner.

"It's another unlikely hero," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Arroyo, the hitter. "That was a game we really needed, especially after the Cardinals won."

Cincinnati, in the final series in a stretch of 34 games over 34 days, maintained its six-game lead over second-place St. Louis in the National League Central. It was the Cardinals that took two of three from the Reds in a series that wrapped on Sunday at Great American Ball Park.

No time to lick wounds, time to keep pushing forward. Arroyo (11-7) made it easier to do that on the mound and with the bat.

In the sixth inning with two outs and the game tied, 2-2, Arroyo drove a 3-2 Tyler Skaggs pitch to left field that appeared to bounce off the top of the wall. Third base umpire and crew chief Derryl Cousins immediately ruled the ball did not clear the fence and Arroyo reached second base with a stand-up double.

Before play continued, Baker asked for the umpires to confer over the call. Cousins and his crew left the field to review it via video replay, and then overturned the original call to award Arroyo with a home run. The video showed the ball actually did clear the fence, and ricocheted off a railing before going back into play.

"We just knew that ball ricocheted too hard to just hit off the wall there," Baker said. "Thank God for instant replay. That was the game winner."

It also rewarded a hard-fought at-bat for Arroyo, who fouled off a pair of 3-2 pitches before hitting the eighth pitch from Skaggs out.

"He was throwing me a lot of four-seamers that weren't moving a whole lot," said Arroyo, who has six career homers after getting his first since June 17, 2010. "A lot of them were just up and away and I was popping them up like I did the first at-bat. I thought if he threw it middle-in, I'd have a chance to at least hit it hard. He did and luckily I got just enough of it to win the ballgame."

The homer upheld a strong start on the mound. Arroyo gave up two runs and five hits with one walk and three strikeouts to improve to 4-0 with a 2.86 ERA over his last four starts and 7-1 with a 3.44 ERA over his last eight starts.

"When Bronson gets on one of these rolls, he's capable of six, seven in a row," Baker said. "We've seen it many, many times. We hope this is it."

"Things are kind of working out a little bit," Arroyo said. "I've been feeling good, but I've been feeling good all year. Early on, I just didn't get some breaks or some runs in key situations. Lately, I'm getting runs late in the game when you need them to give you a chance to hold the lead and give it to the bullpen. Sometimes things just have to fall into place and they've been falling into place the last six weeks."

Arroyo retired nine of his first 10 batters, but would find Justin Upton to be the wrinkle in his evening. With one out in the second inning, Upton drove a 1-1 pitch to the seats in left field for Arizona's 1-0 lead.

In the second inning, Brandon Phillips lashed a RBI double to the gap in right-center field for the Reds' first run. A big break came in the fourth inning after Wilson Valdez's two-out grounder to the mound. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt dropped Skaggs' routine throw for an error that scored Scott Rolen to make it a 2-1 game.

During a lengthy fourth inning, Upton returned with a one-out RBI single to left field that made it 2-2 before Arroyo sidestepped more trouble by getting Miguel Montero to ground into a double play.

"We got five runs off him last time, he mixed it up on us a little bit this time," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He threw a lot strikes, a few more fastballs that made us think and kept us off balance. We just hit some balls that were out in front, that's what he does. Just too effective for us tonight and we didn't make the most of our opportunities as well."

Arroyo admitted to being gassed after 99 pitches and gave way to the bullpen, which retired the final nine in a row. After Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton each handled an inning, Aroldis Chapman recorded his 32nd save of the season, and his 24th consecutive save, which set a new club record. It was also Baker's 400th victory as Reds manager.

"The Cardinals series was definitely a little tough on us, physically. It's always nice to get off to a good start on a road trip," Arroyo said. "We've got the off day in Houston [Thursday] and you never know what you're going to get, especially when you come over here out west. Sometimes it's hit or miss."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.