Reds 7, Padres 6
The Reds ended their fabulous July with an unexpected trade and another win.
The NL Central leaders strengthened their bullpen - one of their strong points all season - by getting Jonathan Broxton in a trade on Tuesday, then let their offense strut its stuff in a 7-6 victory over the San Diego Padres.
Ryan Ludwick drove in four runs with a homer and a single, and a hobbled Brandon Phillips hit a tiebreaking solo shot in the seventh inning that got the Reds back to winning. They blew a six-run lead before pulling it out.
''We started out strong with those six runs, then they come back and you're like, `Here we go,''' Ludwick said. ''But we stopped the bleeding and Brandon hits the big home run.''
They've done a lot of that lately.
Cincinnati went 19-7 in July, its most victories in the month since the Big Red Machine won 20 in 1976. The Reds' latest rally brought their 18th victory in 21 games, one night after a loss to the Padres snapped their 10-game winning streak.
Phillips homered on the 110th and final pitch by Jason Marquis (4-6), who had won his last three starts. The second baseman made a slow trot - he aggravated a sore left calf early in the game - and was replaced for the last two innings.
Manager Dusty Baker expects him to miss a few days.
''When we got the six runs early, Dusty said he was going to take me out,'' Phillips said. ''Then they came back. Not good. (Coach Chris) Speier told me to go out and hit a home run so I wouldn't have to run around the bases. When I came back in, I looked at him and smiled.''
Sean Marshall (4-3) got the win with two perfect innings. Left-hander Aroldis Chapman pitched a perfect ninth - only one strikeout this time - for his 14th straight save and his 22nd in 26 chances overall.
Before the game, the Reds bolstered their bullpen by acquiring Broxton from Kansas City for two minor leaguers. Broxton is expected to arrive on Wednesday and move into a setup role.
The Reds appeared to have this one in hand early. Ludwick singled home a run in the first inning and hit a three-run shot in the third off Marquis. Scott Rolen then singled, extending his hitting streak to a season-high nine games, and Todd Frazier's homer made it 6-0.
The Reds are 12-3 while top hitter Joey Votto recovers from knee surgery. Ludwick has played a major role in pulling them through, batting .356 with five homers during those 15 games.
''He's got his swagger back,'' Baker said. ''He's feeling it. You need somebody hot in the middle of your lineup.''
Homer Bailey let it get away with a shocking meltdown.
The right-hander has been one of the Reds' best pitchers during their surge to first place, allowing a total of six earned runs in his last five games. He gave up that many in only one inning.
The Padres sent 11 batters to the plate for six runs in the fourth, tying it 6-all. It equaled the most runs they'd scored in an inning all season and was by far the worst inning by the Reds' pitching staff all season. San Diego piled up four singles, back-to-back RBI triples by Alexi Amarista and Will Venable, and a three-run homer by Cameron Maybin.
''That hanging pitch to Maybin was the only pitch I made a mistake on,'' Bailey said. ''Things just kept piling up, one after another. You're going to have those innings. You're going to have those games.''
Baker was forced to pull his starter early for the second straight game. Bailey smacked his fist into his glove in disappointment when the left the mound with two outs.
The bullpen and homer-reliant offense pulled it out.
General manager Walt Jocketty looked into acquiring a leadoff hitter or cleanup hitter before Tuesday's trade deadline, but decided the price was too high and the players already on the roster were doing just fine in Votto's absence.
NOTES: The Padres put C Yasmani Grandal on the 15-day DL with strained muscles in his right side, hurt on a swing Monday night. They called up C Eddy Rodriguez from Class A. ... Reds LH reliever Bill Bray went on the DL with a sore back. The Reds called up RH reliever Todd Redmond from Triple-A. ... Reds C Devin Mesoraco left the game with dizziness caused by the heat. ... Reds radio broadcaster Marty Brennaman will have his head shaved on the field after a game against Pittsburgh on Friday night if fans pledge $20,000 to the team's community fund. Brennaman had promised to get his head shaved if the Reds won 10 in a row.
Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay