Reds put lid on Brewers with sweep

Published 3:00 am Monday, April 4, 2011

The Associated Press

CINCINNATI — The Brewers opened the season by getting blown away.

Ryan Hanigan hit two of Cincinnati’s four homers on a windy afternoon, finishing with a career-high four hits, and the Reds overpowered Milwaukee 12-3 on Sunday, completing a season-opening sweep that showed the champs at their best.

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The Reds piled up 19 hits, matching their season high from last year, when they won the division with the league’s top offense. A dozen different Reds had at least one hit, including starter Bronson Arroyo (1-0).

Hanigan’s first career multihomer game highlighted an afternoon of all-or-nothing swings into a brisk wind. Jonny Gomes and Brandon Phillips also homered for the Reds, who left an early impression on their rival.

“Hey, they’re playing really good right now,” Brewers first-year manager Ron Roenicke said. “They played three great games.”

While the Reds piled up the hits, the Brewers’ offense — considered one of their strengths — managed only six hits in seven innings off Arroyo, who is recovering from mononucleosis. The lanky pitcher is down to 185 pounds, eight fewer than at the end of last season.

The Brewers couldn’t do much against him.

“Obviously it’s a tough series for us,” said left-hander Randy Wolf, who lasted only four innings. “We definitely don’t want to start off the way we did. Personally, I don’t want to start the season the way I did. But the main thing is keeping our heads on straight and understanding we are a good team. We just need to keep on working hard and not lose sight of what’s going to happen this year and what we need to do.”

The Reds are 3-0 for the first time since 2005, when they swept the Mets to open the season. They’ve won 18 of their last 21 against the Brewers, who are 0-3 for the first time since 2003.

The Brewers aspire to overtake the Reds after loading up their rotation with Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in the offseason. The opening series showed emphatically that Cincinnati still owns the division.

Especially the way their catchers are swinging.

The Reds rallied for a 7-6 win on opening day, when Ramon Hernandez hit a two-out, three-run homer in the ninth off closer John Axford — the last of the catcher’s four hits. Hanigan, who splits time with Hernandez, also had four hits and a walk on Sunday, driving in four runs.

Two of the NL’s top offenses went at it during the series, with Cincinnati easily getting the upper hand.

There were 14 homers — 10 of them solo shots — by 11 different players in one of the majors’ most homer-friendly parks. Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun went deep against Arroyo.

Weeks set the tone on opening day, when he became the first Brewer to lead off the first game with a homer. On Sunday, Weeks led off with another homer.

Again, the Reds were able to top it. Easily.

And all the Brewers could do was reassure themselves that the three-game sweep was nothing more than a bad weekend against the division champs.

“They’re a very good team,” Roenicke said. “I still think when we’re playing the game we’re capable of playing, we match up with anybody.

“It’s a long season. If this three-game stretch happens in the second month, nobody’s really thinking that much about it. The guys were coming out of spring training feeling pretty good, I was feeling good. We can’t lose that feeling because of three games.”

NOTES: Approximately 600 dogs were in the ballpark as part of an annual pet promotion by the Reds. … The Brewers have their home opener Monday afternoon against Atlanta, celebrating the 10th anniversary of Miller Park. Milwaukee was 40-41 at home last season. … The Reds had 19 hits last season at home against Houston on May 28 and in Milwaukee on July 27. … Reds LHP Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth in his first appearance of the season and topped out at 103 mph on the radar gun. He hit 105 mph last season.