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Reds grab big lead, then fend off Twins

CINCINNATI -- In a game where a cornucopia of runs were scored in the early innings, the Reds held off the Twins to claim a series-opening 11-7 victory on Monday night at Great American Ball Park.

Cincinnati, which was coming off being swept by the Mets while scoring only four runs in three games, built a 9-1 run lead through three innings. As 10 men batted in a five-run Reds third, Eugenio Suarez hit a two-run double to center field as Twins starter Mike Pelfrey's final batter. Later in the inning with the bases loaded against Alex Meyer, Joey Votto hit a two-run single. Every Reds position player had at least one hit in the game, including Tucker Barnhart with a 4-for-5 night.

Pelfrey finished with eight earned runs and nine hits allowed over two-plus innings. But a smooth night it wasn't for Reds starter Mike Leake, who gave up seven earned runs as 10 men batted for Minnesota in a six-run fourth. With two outs, Danny Santana hit a RBI single before Brian Dozier's three-run homer to left-center field made it a 9-7 game. Leake was out after four innings with nine hits on his line.

Video: [email protected]: Twins get back in the game with six-run 4th

"We had a nice little rally there against Leake and made it interesting but we kind of sputtered from there," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Our bullpen gave up a couple. So it was just a long game and we gave up a lot of hits. It wasn't very fun to watch."

The Reds, who set a season high for a nine-inning game with 17 hits, made it a three-run game in the sixth when Suarez laid down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt and reached on a single as Marlon Byrd scored. The bullpen kept the Twins quiet, and hitless, over the final five innings. Reliever Nate Adcock's two scoreless innings earned him the victory, and he was followed by Manny Parra's two perfect innings and Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth.

Video: [email protected]: Statcast™ tracks Chapman's heater

"The key was we didn't let this one get away," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Adcock and Parra came up so big in that game. It really saved it. Those last couple of add-on runs gave us the separation we needed to make sure we didn't get them too excited about coming back and winning that game."

Video: [email protected]: Price on Leake, Hamilton's speed

Blazin' Billy: It's been a tough season at the plate for Billy Hamilton, who entered batting .220 with a .264 on-base percentage. But back in the leadoff spot for an injured Brandon Phillips, Hamilton was a big nuisance for Minnesota. He reached base in each of his first four plate appearances -- on a bunt single, two walks and a chopped infield hit -- and scored three runs. He also stole four bases to extend his Major League leading total to 40.

Video: [email protected]: Hamilton steals four bases

"I'm trying to be as aggressive as I was in the ninth hole and took it then to the leadoff spot," Hamilton said. "I was talking to Jay Bruce about it. I said, 'Can I take my same thought process in the ninth hole to the one hole?' and he was like, 'From the first pitch on, I'm ready to hit from the first pitch on.' He says, 'If it's right there in the spot that you want it, hit it,' and that gave me confidence to just get on base and do what I did if I was in the ninth hole." More >

Dozier's blast gets Twins back in it: Leake had Dozier down 0-2 and was one strike away from getting out of the fourth inning, but served up a three-run shot to make it a two-run game. It was the team-leading 16th homer for Dozier and also helped him reach 40 RBIs. But it wasn't enough for the Twins, who were held scoreless the rest of the way by Cincinnati's bullpen.

Video: [email protected]: Dozier belts three-run shot to left

"You try to look at the positives and we didn't quit," Dozier said. "We felt like we're always in the game. Especially here, anything can happen with a few swings of the bat. It's such a cracker-jack box. So you put that together with our fight, we never thought we were out of the game." More >

Leaked lead: Through three innings, Leake had an eight-run lead, but didn't do a good job of protecting his advantage or saving a bullpen that threw 10 innings over two games Sunday. Minnesota sent 10 up in the fourth and made it a 9-7 game. Entering the night, Leake was 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in five June starts, including two earned runs allowed over his previous 14 innings.

"You do your best to forget about it," Leake said. "There's nothing you can do about it. It happens so all you can do is move on. If you're going to think about the past you're going to keep killing your head." More >

Pelfrey turns in clunker: Pelfrey has arguably been Minnesota's most consistent starter, but turned in a rough outing for the second time in his past four starts. He lasted just two-plus innings, giving up eight runs on nine hits and three walks to see his ERA jump from 3.06 to 3.81. He has a 6.84 ERA over his past four starts.

"At the end of the day we scored seven and we need to win with that," Pelfrey said. "It's frustrating to be down, 9-1, after three. It not only puts our bullpen in a hole but the offense in a hole. It's a rough spot. The hole I created was too tough." More >

"We cooled the fire right after that and they didn't score after that. It was a pretty interesting game but we held our own. I just kept telling the guys 'we've got the lead. Don't get too fired up. We've got the lead. Let's keep building off our lead. Don't worry about what happens.'" -- Reds third baseman Todd Frazier, who drove in the game's first run with a first-inning RBI single to left field More >

When Votto hit his two-run single to left field with the bases loaded in the third, it snapped a 13-game streak without an RBI. Votto last drove in a run on June 13 vs. the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Video: [email protected]: Votto plates a pair with single to left

Eddie Rosario attempted a steal of second base with one out in the fifth, but was ruled out by second-base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. The Twins challenged the play, however, and after a review of more than four minutes, the call was overturned and Rosario was ruled safe.

Video: [email protected]: Out call at second overturned in 5th

Twins: Right-hander Phil Hughes starts the second game of the series on Tuesday at 6:10 p.m. CT. Hughes has been solid recently with four straight quality starts, going 2-1 with a 2.43 ERA over that span. He's never faced the Reds in his nine-year career.

Reds: Rookie righty Anthony DeSclafani will take the ball for the Reds at 7:10 p.m. ET in the second game of the series. DeSclafani is winless over his past three starts, but was solid last time out at Pittsburgh when only one of his four runs allowed were earned over six innings with six hits.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Mike Leake, Billy Hamilton, Brian Dozier, Tucker Barnhart, Todd Frazier, Mike Pelfrey, Joey Votto, Trevor Plouffe, Eugenio Suarez