Ryan Ludwick homers, Reds beat Brewers
CINCINNATI (AP) — Ryan Ludwick hit a line drive that carried into the seats in left field for his first homer since last October. The next time up, he hit the ball as hard as he can, right at the shortstop.
Maybe his swing is starting to come around.
Ludwick hit the most noteworthy of Cincinnati’s four homers on Saturday night during a 6-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers that left their cleanup hitter with a better feeling.
“Amazing,” Ludwick said. “And my next at-bat, I was even more thrilled. I hit that ball harder than the home run. The swing was more pure, the ball had no sink. That ball I hit to the shortstop was the hardest ball I’ve hit since I’ve been here. That was my best swing since I’ve been here.”
Zack Cozart added a tie-breaking two-run homer as the Reds piled up 14 hits, their highest total against an NL Central opponent since June 11. They evened their series at a game apiece with their 13th victory in their last 18 games overall.
Bronson Arroyo (13-9) won his fourth straight start by allowing three runs, including Caleb Gindl’s pinch-hit homer leading off the eighth. The right-hander hasn’t walked a batter in his last 29 2-3 innings.
Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for his 33rd save in 38 chances. The left-hander hit a batter and fanned three with a fastball that repeatedly registered 102 mph.
“It was a good win for us as a whole,” Arroyo said. “The bullpen got some rest. We’ve been playing good baseball. After you take three out of four from Arizona, you don’t want to lose two in a row.”
Ludwick and Cozart connected in the sixth inning off John Axford (6-7), who failed to hold a 2-1 lead. Joey Votto added his 19th homer an inning later off Michael Gonzalez, and Cozart singled for his third RBI.
Axford had a rough start to the season, giving up runs in each of his first four appearances. He didn’t give up any runs in 31 of his 32 appearances from May 15 to July 24. His inconsistency has been a mystery.
“It’s hard to know,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “When he’s right, I want him in there. But he’s got to be more consistent.
“He’s got to get back to that guy he was for 30 outings in a row. He was really good for a while.”
Chris Heisey started it with a solo homer off Wily Peralta, who lasted only five innings. The right-hander is 1-3 in five starts against the Reds this season. Last Sunday in Milwaukee, he gave up seven runs in only 4 1-3 innings of a 9-1 loss to the Reds.
Ludwick tore cartilage in his right shoulder while sliding headfirst into base on opening day, sidelining him for more than three months. His homer was his first since a solo shot off San Francisco’s Matt Cain during Game 5 of the Giants’ playoff victory in Cincinnati last season.
“It’s a work in progress,” Ludwick said. “I’m not where I want to be. Did I expect to be in midseason form? Yeah, probably. I was probably asking too much.”
Arroyo overcame a tough early inning stretch.
Khris Davis drove in the Brewers’ first run with a double in the second, extending his impressive series. He had a pair of two-run homers in consecutive at-bats for a 6-4 win on Friday night.
Davis was called up for his third stint with Milwaukee when Ryan Braun accepted a 65-game suspension on July 22 for using performance-enhancing drugs. The rookie has batted .383 with eight homers since then, earning regular playing time in the outfield. He’s got a 10-game hitting streak.
Scooter Gennett followed Davis’ double with a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.
Milwaukee’s defense cut down a rally in the fourth. Ludwick led off with a broken-bat single and tried to score from first base on Jack Hannahan’s double off the wall in left-center field. Carlos Gomez got to the ball quickly and shortstop Jean Segura made a perfect relay to get Ludwick sliding into the plate.
NOTES: RH Greg Reynolds joined the Reds and will start on Sunday in place of LH Tony Cingrani, who has a strained lower back. The Brewers will start Marco Estrada. … RF Jay Bruce got a day off. He has played in all but two of Cincinnati’s games this season. … Heisey extended his hitting streak to seven games.