Phils blast four home runs to rout Reds
Four homers. Twelve runs. The NL's highest-scoring offense took full advantage of the friendly dimensions at Great American Ball Park, then set off to see what it can do in the AL's newest launching pad.
How will the Philadelphia Phillies take to the new Yankee Stadium?
"It's a new, expensive ballpark," said Chase Utley, who drove in four runs during a 12-5 victory Thursday over the Cincinnati Reds. "It's a great place to hit, so I'm excited to get started there."
The defending World Series champions are up-and-running on offense as they head into their first interleague series. The pitching? That's another matter. As they have for much of the season, the Phillies spent the day overcoming another subpar start with superb hitting.
Utley had a two-run single and a double off Micah Owings (3-5), who got nine outs and showed the strain of throwing a lot of innings lately. Utley also had one of the Phillies' four solo homers — Greg Dobbs, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez connected, as well.
Jimmy Rollins had four hits, scored twice and drove in a run. The top three hitters in the order — Rollins, Utley and Raul Ibanez — went 9-for-15, scored five runs and drove in eight.
"We couldn't keep Jimmy Rollins off the bases, and Utley and their big boys hit the ball out of the ballpark," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "You knew they were going to erupt, and they erupted today. Everybody knows they can hit."
That's not the problem.
Joe Blanton (2-3) got the win despite letting most of a six-run lead slip away. The right-hander gave up five runs in five innings, including a three-run homer by Brandon Phillips that forced the Phillies to use their bullpen early.
Philadelphia's starting rotation has a 6.31 ERA that's worst in the majors and has given up 46 homers, the most in the majors. The Phillies have spent the first two months of the season trying to outscore their opponents.
For the most part, they've pulled it off. The Phillies have won six of their last seven games, all on the road, as they get set to visit the Yankees' new place.
"Going into New York was always something special because the old Yankee Stadium had a real feel to it," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I'm sure this one is going to have a good feel because of the way they built it. They are hitting a lot of home runs there. Hopefully we can tee off on some."
The Reds, who host Cleveland in their annual interstate series starting Friday, have dropped five of six while watching their starting staff take a few hits. Edinson Volquez had to leave a game Saturday in San Diego because of back spasms that landed him on the disabled list. That game turned into a 16-inning loss, with Owings coming in on three days of rest to throw 5 2-3 innings.
Owings looked tired on Thursday. He needed 71 pitches to get through three rough innings, leaving with a 5-0 deficit. Utley's solo homer off Ramon Ramirez made it 6-0 in the fourth.
"Micah didn't have his best stuff, and you knew he wasn't going very long because he pitched six innings the other day," Baker said.
Utley added a sacrifice fly in the sixth that blunted the Reds' comeback. Howard led off the seventh inning with his fourth homer in the last seven games, and the Phillies scored three more in the inning, pulling away.
The Phillies are 14-5 on the road, the best winning percentage in the majors. ... Utley's career high is six RBIs last May 26 against Colorado. ... Ibanez has five homers in the last seven games. ... Blanton has struggled in his last three starts, giving up 15 runs in 18 innings. ... Phillies RHP Chan Ho Park made his first appearance since being demoted to the bullpen on Tuesday. ... Reds 1B Joey Votto was diagnosed with an inner ear infection. He'll work out with the team on Friday and could return over the weekend.