Catherine Spearnak 3:30 p.m., March 6
The key to beating the Cincinnati Reds seems to be in having your offense put up big numbers against their starting pitchers while holding off their offense late. Getting to the Reds bullpen is as tough as making ice cubes in Tucson in July.
The San Diego Padres are learning this lesson often, lately. After taking a lead early, they couldn't hold it nor come back on Reds relief pitching, losing on Wednesday, 6-4.
In the first inning, Padres bats found success against Reds starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo right away. Alexi Amarista led off with a walk, and after Will Venable flied out, Amarista stole second base. Chase Headley then homered to right field, and the Padres took an early 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the frame, the Reds struck right back off of Padres starter Kip Wells. Zach Cozart began by belting a Wells fast ball over the left-center field wall, and the Reds cut the lead in half.
After walking Drew Stubbs, Wells struck out Jay Bruce. Padres catcher John Baker then threw out Stubbs attempting to steal second base, but Wells walked Scott Rolen to prolong the inning.
Ryan Ludwick then came to the plate and made Wells pay for the base on balls by smacking a home run to left. Ludwick's 19th home run of the year made it 3-2 Reds after an inning.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Padres struck again. With two out, Kip Wells and Alexi Amarista hit back-to-back singles, Wells stood at second and Amarista at first, and Will Venable laced a single to center field, scoring Wells and putting Amarista at third base.
Chase Headley then singled, bringing Amarista home. It was Headley's 55th run batted in for the season and the Padres were back in front, 4-3.
The lead didn't last long. In the bottom of the 5th inning with one out, Drew Stubbs singled and Jay Bruce doubled to plate Stubbs and the score was tied. Dale Thayer then relieved Kip Wells, and Scott Rolen lined out to right field for the second out.
Ryan Ludwick then came to the plate and lined a 2 balls and 1 strike Thayer fastball to right field to score Bruce. After five innings, the Reds had the lead back at 5-4.
The Reds added an insurance run in their half of the seventh inning with Eric Stults in relief for the Padres. Drew Stubbs singled, then tagged and took second base on a fly out to right field by Jay Bruce. Stults walked Scott Rolen, and Stults was then pulled and replaced on the mound by Luke Gregerson.
Gregerson then gave up a single to Ryan Ludwick, driving in Stubbs, and the Reds led the Padres 6-4, and that was all for the Padres. They were shut down by Reds relievers Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton, and closer Aroldis Chapman, who recorded his 23rd save of the season.
The National League Central Division leading Reds improve to 63-41, while the Padres fall to 44-62. Bronson Arroyo recorded the win to move to 7-6, while losing pitcher Kip Wells is now 2-4 on the season.
Wednesday, pitcher Tim Stauffer (right elbow) continued his rehab in Arizona. Good news, in lieu of a bullpen session, Stauffer pitched an inning with the Arizona Rookie League, giving up an unearned run on one hit with one strikeout.
On Thursday, you can fry up some bacon and eggs and watch the Padres while you enjoy breakfast, presuming you get Fox Sports San Diego. Or else catch then on radio XX 1090 AM. The game is scheduled to start at 9:35 AM PSDT, and features Ross Ohlendorf (3-1, 5.05) of the Padres against Johnny Cueto (13-5, 2.39) for the Reds. Cueto has been outstanding this season, so Padres hitters have their work cut out for them.