Reds' long, strange trip punctuated by home runs

Four solo dingers support strong outing from Simon

Reds' long, strange trip punctuated by home runs

PHOENIX -- It was a road trip that began Monday with the Reds almost being on the wrong end of a perfect game. On Thursday came a loss where they sent the minimum number of hitters to bat with only three singles, and a players-only team meeting was subsequently called.

Instead of it feeling like the season was on the brink of demise, the Reds are going home feeling good with a winning trip record.

Four solo home runs tied the Reds' season high and gave them a 4-3 victory over the D-backs on Sunday. Cincinnati has won four of its last five games, including the final three of the four-game series to complete a 4-3 road trip through Los Angeles and Arizona.

"To end up winning the road trip, you can't beat that after starting 1-3," said Chris Heisey, who started in right field and hit the game-winning homer in the fifth inning. "It feels good to get a little streak, a little momentum, for sure. We hadn't done that in a while. It was nice to finish out strong here. Hopefully, we'll go home and continue to play well."

The Reds also have their third three-game winning streak of the season, the first since April 22-24 at Pittsburgh. It's a good roll to have as a 10-game homestand begins Tuesday vs. the Giants, who have the best record in baseball.

"It's been a long time coming where we've run off some wins and had some good productive games all the way around with all spectrums covered," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I couldn't feel any better. What a great way to go into an off-day and start the series with San Francisco."

Reds starter Alfredo Simon pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up three runs and seven hits with one walk and four strikeouts. Simon, who has a career high in wins at 7-3 with a 3.03 ERA, has given up three runs or fewer in nine of 11 starts.

D-backs starter Wade Miley was racking up strikeouts -- nine over his first five innings -- but was unable to contain the long ball. He gave up all four Reds homers.

"He pitched well except for the four pitches, and those guys hammered them," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said.

With the exception of Todd Frazier, the homers largely came from bats that haven't hit many lately. In the third inning, Zack Cozart led off with a first-pitch homer to left field -- his first homer in 120 at-bats since April 20. Frazier hit a 1-0 pitch for a two-out solo homer, also to left field, his team-leading 10th. With two outs in the fourth inning, Ryan Ludwick launched a 2-1 pitch to left field for his fourth homer of the season, but second in 33 games, to give the Reds a 3-0 lead.

"The last five games we've been playing really well except that one game [on Thursday]," Frazier said. "We've been talking about trying to understand having fun in this game and keep enjoying each other while we play this game."

Simon, who was knocked out in the fourth inning of his previous start Wednesday vs. the Dodgers, had more fourth-inning trouble against Arizona while giving up three runs. Following a one-out walk, Miguel Montero hit a RBI double off the right-center field wall. Later, a sacrifice fly would bring home Montero and Ender Inciarte hit a game-tying RBI single.

Arizona's window of opportunity quickly closed as Simon rebounded by retiring eight of his last nine batters. This season, he has yet to allow a run after the fourth inning (25 2/3 innings total). Price noticed a difference in Simon compared with when he first joined the team as a reliever in 2012.

"He seemed to more comfortable in those situations out of the 'pen where he could start his own inning and not come into the fire," Price said. "And now, when he's in the fire sometimes, it's when he's at his best. He got through that three-run inning. It looked like they were going to break him and they didn't. He rallied back and pitched great late in the game."

In the Reds' fifth inning with one out, Heisey hit his second homer of the season -- his first since April 13 -- with a very long drive to left-center field to break the tie.

"I was able to stay on it," Heisey said. "That's been my biggest problem, staying on those pitches and getting the barrel to it and staying fluid."

The steady bullpen trio of Sam LeCure, Jonathan Broxton and Aroldis Chapman preserved the lead after Simon left with a runner on first base in the seventh. Chapman had a perfect ninth for his seventh save.

In a 16-game stretch that has included only three home games, the Reds were 8-8 and they're 26-29 overall. They've treaded water much of the season but could get a boost if Joey Votto and Mat Latos return from the disabled list during the upcoming homestand.

"You fight to win series and get on a roll," Price said."We're heading in a nice direction right there."

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.