Phillips leads Reds past former team
Brandon Phillips found the perfect way to celebrate his 28th birthday: by beating the Cleveland Indians.
Phillips broke out of a 1-for-16 slump with three hits, three runs and three RBIs to lead the Cincinnati Reds to an 8-1 win over his former team Sunday.
"It's good to have a game like I did today, especially on my birthday and against the guys you used to play for," Phillips said. "Today, I was like, 'I'm going to show the Indians what they missed out on."'
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Ramon Hernandez also had three hits and three RBIs as the Reds took two of three from their Ohio rivals to move back to .500 overall.
Micah Owings (5-8) gave up one run and five hits over six innings for only his second win in eight starts since May 21.
Phillips hit a two-run single in a four-run third off David Huff (3-3). He had an RBI single and scored on Jonny Gomes' homer in the fifth, then singled, stole second and scored on a base hit by Hernandez against Rafael Perez in the seventh.
He couldn't resist taking a few verbal jabs at his old team, too.
"I've learned from everything I went through when I was here," Phillips said. "They wanted me to be a certain type of player. They wanted me to do this and do that. They didn't let me be myself."
Phillips developed into an All-Star and Gold Glove second baseman after being traded to the Reds at the start of the 2006 season. He has consistently come back to hurt the Indians in interleague play, hitting .341 (30-for-88) with four homers, 18 RBIs and five stolen bases in 23 games against them.
Considered by the Indians the key to a deal that also netted future All-Star outfielder Grady Sizemore and Cy Young winner Cliff Lee in a June 2002 deal with Montreal for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew, Phillips struggled in parts of four seasons in Cleveland.
"You've got to realize I was in the big leagues when I was 20 or 21," Phillips said. "I was young, but they gave up on me. There are some things I really wish I would say, but I'm not going to say. I'm here, living the life."
The Indians fell further into last place in the AL Central with their 10th loss in 12 games, yet manager Eric Wedge remains hopeful that adding two relievers and getting injured players back can provide a needed boost.
"As we get players back, we should have a more consistent lineup," Wedge said. "If things fall into place, we can get better in a hurry. We've brought people in to help settle down the bullpen."
Cleveland purchased Jose Veras from the New York Yankees on Wednesday and traded veteran infielder Mark DeRosa to St. Louis for right-hander Chris Perez and a player to be named Saturday.
The Indians went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position in its first game since dealing DeRosa, who was second on the club in home runs (13) and RBIs (50).
"We've got some other guys who can step up," Wedge said. "The trade was made to make us better."
Phillips gave the Reds a 2-1 lead with a two-run single in the third, then scored on Hernandez's two-run triple off the wall in left-center.
Cleveland left fielder Ryan Garko dropped a fly ball by Joey Votto in the fifth, leading to a three-run inning. Phillips followed with line single to center to make it 4-1 and scored on Gomes' fourth homer, an opposite-field shot to right.
Asdrubal Cabrera, activated from the disabled list Sunday after missing 22 games with a strained shoulder, singled and scored in the first to put Cleveland ahead, 1-0. Cabrera went to third on a single by Sizemore and scored on a sacrifice fly by Victor Martinez.
"You try to limit the damage as much as you can," Owings said. "To just give up one run and get our guys back in the dugout there was pretty big."
Cleveland had two runners on base against Owings in the third, fourth and sixth and could not deliver.
Huff gave up nine hits and six earned runs over five innings. The rookie left-hander had been 3-0 with a 3.20 ERA in his previous four starts.
"The big thing was getting ahead of hitters," Huff said. "I was fine the first two innings, then started nibbling a little. I had to go to the fastball for a strike and those guys were sitting dead-red on it."
Reds RHP Bronson Arroyo said he's considering having carpal tunnel surgery on his right wrist after the season. "I'm worried about it all the time," said Arroyo, who has had soreness since 2004 and been forced to give up his favorite hobby of playing the guitar. "It's gotten to the point where it's sore whenever I do anything." A cortisone shot has enabled Arroyo, who is 8-6 with a 5.54 ERA, to continue to pitch. ... Cleveland went 5-13 against NL teams this year and is 11-25 in interleague the last two seasons.