Rolen’s 300th career HR leads Reds past Phils, 7-3
CINCINNATI — Scott Rolen’s timing was only off by a little.
Rolen hit his 300th career homer with his family watching Monday night, and Johnny Cueto shut down the team that gave him an historic loss the last time they faced, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Reds won for the sixth time in seven games, keeping them atop the NL Central. It’s the latest they have been in first place since 1999.
Rolen hit a two-run shot in the fourth inning off Kyle Kendrick (4-3), a hooking drive that smacked off the bottom of the foul pole in left field. He added a sacrifice fly.
Rolen grew up in Indiana and had his family in town for a get-together to celebrate his parents’ anniversary. He connected a day late.
“I actually wanted to do it yesterday with my parents celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary,” Rolen said of No. 300. “With my whole family in town, I thought it’d be great. But I guess it goes to show you that when you try to force something, it usually doesn’t work out.”
Cueto (8-2) retired only two batters when he faced the Phillies last July 6, setting the Reds on course for a 22-1 drubbing that was the worst in franchise history. This time, he allowed six hits and one run in eight innings.
“The big difference was last year, I was thinking about making the All-Star team and I really wasn’t concentrating,” Cueto said through a coach acting as translator.
The Phillies lost for only the second time in seven games. An offense that averaged 6.8 runs over the last 11 games froze up against the 24-year-old Cueto, who had plenty of motivation to look good.
When the right-hander pitched in Philadelphia last July, he gave up a career-high nine runs while failing to make it through the first inning. The NL’s top defense prevented this one from getting away early.
The Reds pulled off two double plays in the first four innings, including an improbable one started by second baseman Brandon Phillips. He made a backhand stop on Raul Ibanez’s grounder up the middle and flipped the ball under his body to second base while falling on his chest.
Shortstop Orlando Cabrera robbed Chase Utley in the sixth, going up the middle to grab his grounder and throw him out from center field. Cabrera also made an over-the-shoulder catch of Ross Gload’s fly ball in the eighth.
Utley jammed his right thumb when he tried to stretch a single in the fourth inning, getting thrown out at second. He left the game for a pinch-hitter in the ninth. He will have tests on the thumb Tuesday.
“We hit some balls hard and they made plays,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “We had some freak things happen to us as far as the game. We hit balls hard and were having a hard time scoring.”
Ryan Howard had a double and triple and scored the Phillies’ run off Cueto in the seventh. Ibanez hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Bill Bray.
Joey Votto doubled ahead of Rolen’s 17th homer, his highest total in four years. The 35-year-old third baseman has avoided the nagging injuries that limited him the last few seasons.
Rolen swung at the first pitch, a hanging slider. Kendrick retired the first 10 batters before the Reds figured out they needed to swing early in the count.
“He was aggressive all night,” Kendrick said. “They made adjustments. They were swinging early.”
Votto and Cabrera both had three hits as the top of the NL’s most prolific lineup did most of the damage. Cincinnati leads the league in batting average, runs and hits.
NOTES: Phillies 3B Placido Polanco was out of the lineup for the third straight game with a sore left elbow, aggravated on a dive Friday night. He could return Tuesday. … Reds RHP Homer Bailey, on the DL since May 24 with an inflamed pitching shoulder, threw 30 pitches off a flat surface without a problem. He hopes to throw off a bullpen mound a couple of times before the All-Star break. … Votto got on base for the 36th consecutive game, the longest Reds streak since Pete Rose did it in 48 straight in 1978, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
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