Phillips' HR sends Reds past ChiSox
No special celebration when Brandon Phillips ended his power slump. He flipped the bat, dropped his head and started rounding the bases without fanfare.
This nonstop trip had been a long time coming.
Phillips hit a two-run homer and a sacrifice fly on Friday night, and the Cincinnati Reds ended a nine-game losing streak against the Chicago White Sox with a 4-3 victory that opened a spotlight weekend for baseball and civil rights.
Phillips' homer off Jose Contreras (2-6) put Cincinnati ahead to stay in the sixth and got him out of his funk. The second baseman hadn't homered since June 3, a span of 53 at-bats. He wasn't quite sure what happened to finally end it.
"I don't know what it was," Phillips said. "Just a home run pitch."
Bronson Arroyo (8-5) got his first June victory by allowing only two hits in 6 2-3 innings, including a two-run homer by Chris Getz. Francisco Cordero gave up a solo homer by Paul Konerko in the ninth before picking up his 17th save in 18 chances.
"That was an excellent performance," manager Dusty Baker said of Arroyo's 108-pitch outing on a hot, muggy night. "Masterful. He had a good fastball, good sinker. But mostly, he had good location. The last time, he didn't have his location. He found it."
The interleague series features a Civil Rights Game on Saturday night remembering those who have worked for equality. Hank Aaron, Muhammad Ali and Bill Cosby will be honored for their contributions.
The opener brought an end to two notable streaks.
The White Sox are 12-3 in their interleague series against Cincinnati, which got drubbed in all three games when they last met in Cincinnati in 2006. Chicago had won nine straight against the Reds, who were on more even terms this time. Both teams have slumping offenses.
The other streak belonged to Contreras, who is back in form after a demotion to the minors. The 37-year-old opened the season 0-5, struggling to come back from a ruptured Achilles' tendon that ended his 2008 season.
He worked the kinks out of his delivery in the minors and didn't allow a run in his first two starts back. The scoreless streak reached 19 2-3 innings before Laynce Nix doubled with two outs in the fourth and came around on Ramon Hernandez's double.
Phillips hit his 11th homer in the sixth inning for a 3-2 lead, the one pitch that Contreras wished he could take back.
"Just missed with a slider," he said. "It was supposed to be down and away. It was middle of the plate and he hit it out. It cost the game."
Phillips also had a sacrifice fly off Octavio Dotel in the seventh, providing the decisive run. Chicago finished with four hits.
"The ballclub didn't do too much offensively," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Jose threw a good game. We just didn't help him. He continues to throw the ball good. That's all we can ask of him."
Arroyo was 0-2 with a no-decision in June, but had his breaking ball working well on a humid, 88-degree night. He struck out seven and made only one glaring mistake - a hanging breaking ball that Getz hit for his first career homer.
"They have a bunch of right-handers in the middle of the lineup," Arroyo said. "Luckily, I was able to beat them in the head game. I haven't seen them in a while. They haven't seen me, either. It was a guessing game out there."
Contreras struck out twice, leaving him hitless in 26 career at-bats. ... KC's Zach Greinke has the longest scoreless-inning streak in the majors this season at 24. ... Konerko's homer was his 300th with the White Sox. ... Reds SS Alex Gonzalez was a late scratch because of a sore right elbow. ... Leadoff hitter Willy Taveras got a day off. The center fielder is in a 1-for-46 slump. ... The series is a Nix family reunion. Laynce Nix, a 28-year-old outfielder for the Reds, started in left field and had a pair of hits. Jayson Nix, his 26-year-old brother, didn't get into the game for Chicago. ... The White Sox are 5-4 in interleague play this season. Cincinnati is 3-4.