Hit Men

Published 1:40 am Wednesday, July 28, 2010

MILWAUKEE — Dusty Baker said Cincinnati’s performance reminded him of a merry-go-round. The Reds’ 19-hit effort brought them back where they’ve been most of the season — first place.

Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Scott Rolen all had four hits and Cincinnati roughed up Milwaukee Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo in a 12-4 win Tuesday night that moved them back into a tie for first in the NL Central with St. Louis.

“If we can just keep the merry-go-round going, guys on the bases, pitchers in the stretch and them on defense, sooner or later, you can wear them down,” Baker said. “We needed to win, St. Louis lost so we’re back tied again. We’ll just go from here.”

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The Reds trail St. Louis by percentage points in the standings, but it’s been rare for Cincinnati to be outside the top spot in the division. Since May 16, the Reds have spent 51 of the previous 72 days in first place or tied for first, exactly where they will start Thursday be when they try to win the three-game series against the Brewers.

The top four hitters in Cincinnati’s lineup — Phillips, Orlando Cabrera, Votto and Rolen — finished 15 for 22 with eight runs and seven RBIs as the Reds matched a season high with 19 hits.

“It was a big day for all of us,” Votto said. “When you get them all in a bunch, it’s usually a good thing for us.”

Rolen, who returned Monday night after missing nine games with a hamstring injury, snapped an 0-for-16 slump with hits in his first four plate appearances. He also had a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

“We swung the bats well and put pressure on them all night,” Rolen said. “I feel good, I feel healthy, I’m going to get a day off tomorrow and we’ve got a day off after that. It’s good to get back out on the field.”

Rickie Weeks homered for the third time in as many days for Milwaukee, which saw its season-best five-game winning streak snapped.

Rookie reliever Logan Ondrusek (2-0) earned the win with 2 1-3 hitless innings after Reds starter Edinson Volquez had another trying night in his third appearance since reconstructive elbow surgery.

Gallardo (9-5) hit a two-run homer in his only at-bat, but looked uncomfortable on the mound and left when Phillips drove in a run on a two-out single in the third that made it 6-3.

It matched Gallardo’s shortest start of the season when he had to leave on July 4 in St. Louis after straining his left side. Gallardo went on the disabled list after that start and pitched well in his first game back last week in Pittsburgh.

“It was one of those days that it just felt like anything I threw up there was going to get hit,” Gallardo said.

The Reds, who lead the NL in runs scored, tacked on four more against Brewers reliever Chris Capuano and two off David Riske. One thing Cincinnati was missing in this hit parade — a homer.

“It wasn’t like there were any cheap hits,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “A couple of guys in the middle of the order had big nights. Not much to say.”

Volquez smacked his glove in frustration in the second inning after Gallardo hit the eighth homer of his career, and Volquez failed to make it out of the fourth inning because he struggled with command. Ondrusek settled things down, allowing just one baserunner on a walk.

“My whole body is strong, I just can’t throw a strike,” Volquez said. “I still have a little bit of a problem with my mechanics. Because my arm is good, my speed was pretty good, too, I just can’t put it together.”

Weeks continued his tear with his 22nd homer, a leadoff shot in the fourth off Volquez. Weeks has homered in seven of the last 10 games and has scored at least one run in the past 11.

Milwaukee has hit at least one homer in its last 16 games — going 11-5 — but the loss killed much needed momentum for the Brewers, who still aren’t sure if they’ll play a role of buyers or sellers in the trade market.

Notes: Brewers RF Joe Inglett pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, hitting as high as 56 mph on the radar gun. He received a standing ovation. … Brewers RF Corey Hart (wrist, thumb) missed his fourth straight game, but says he’ll be ready to return to the lineup Friday. … With OF Jim Edmonds (Achilles) also ailing, LHP Randy Wolf pinch-hit in the third. … Reds RHP Homer Bailey gave up three runs in four innings and took the loss in a rehab start for Class-A Dayton on Monday night. … Brewers RHP LaTroy Hawkins (shoulder) says he’ll throw a final bullpen session on Wednesday. He’s expected to be activated from the 60-day DL before Friday’s game at Houston.