Reds rout Phillies for series sweep

Remember the Reds’ five-game losing streak? Four days ago, they blew a 5-0 lead in Pittsburgh, and the sky was falling in Cincinnati as a promising season ran headfirst into diminishing expectations.

Two last at-bat victories and a blowout in the last three days have erased the disappointment felt in Reds country on Sunday. Cincinnati picked up that fallen sky and painted a sunny portrait of where their season is heading, completing their first sweep of the Phillies since 1996 with a 11-2 victory Wednesday night in front of a crowd of 16,467 at Great American Ball Park.

“Obviously, the road trip wasn’t good for us,” shortstop Zack Cozart said. “For us to come in and face the Phillies and get a big sweep was important. We know we’re a good team.”

“This game is just so hard to figure out,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We go from being swept (by the Pirates) to sweeping. Whoever figures this game out, I wish somebody would hurry up and tell me.”

Ninety minutes after Jay Bruce’s bases-loaded single in the ninth gave the Reds a 1-0 victory in the game suspended by rain at 10:48 p.m. Tuesday, the Reds (8-7) wasted little time putting this game away. They scored nine runs in the first three innings.

The hit parade started in the first. Cozart doubled and scored on a single by Brandon Phillips.

An inning later, the floodgates opened, and the Reds drenched the Phillies with a deluge of runs. Todd Frazier opened the inning with a home run, his fourth of the season, and ended it with a strikeout. In between, Mike Leake, Devin Mesoraco and Jay Bruce combined to drive in four runs.

The Reds added three more in the third. Chris Heisey and Mesoraco opened the inning with doubles. Phillips ended the inning with a two-out, two-run single to right. That gave him 19 RBIs, tying him for the major-league lead.

Cincinnati added to Philadelphia’s misery in the fifth as Cozart hit a two-run blast into the upper deck in left. It was 11-0. Cozart matched his season high with three hits and has hits in three straight games.

“I like guys that get hits,” Baker said. “Like my friend Gary Mathews said, the only thing better than hits is more hits. It was a beautiful thing tonight. I’m glad to see (Cozart) going because he was starting to press a little bit.”

Meanwhile, Leake got his season back on track. He had as many hits at the plate, three, as he gave up on the mound. The three Reds starters in the series — Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey and Leake — didn’t give up a run in the first seven innings in any of the games and gave up just two runs in all in 23 innings.

Leake gave up nine earned runs in 12 innings in his first two starts. He didn’t allow a run in seven innings Wednesday and walked none with seven strikeouts.

The key, Leake said, was “mixing and matching and going after them and staying convicted to your pitch rather than being scared. It’s an attitude thing for me.”

The Reds started the day by finishing Tuesday’s postponed game in rapid fashion. The game resumed at 5:30 p.m. in the bottom of the ninth, and Cincinnati needed nine minutes and four at-bats to finish off the Phillies. Bruce’s single to right scored Cozart with the winning run.

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