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Bruce's blast leads Reds past D-backs

July 23, 2016

CINCINNATI -- The D-backs were wise to what the Reds were thinking in the first inning on Saturday night with Billy Hamilton on third base. They stopped a double-steal attempt and even caught Hamilton in a rundown as Joey Votto broke from first base to steal second base. However, Hamilton

CINCINNATI -- The D-backs were wise to what the Reds were thinking in the first inning on Saturday night with Billy Hamilton on third base. They stopped a double-steal attempt and even caught Hamilton in a rundown as Joey Votto broke from first base to steal second base. However, Hamilton was fast enough to scamper back and that opened the door for trouble.
The Reds went on to score three runs in that inning, on the road for a 6-1 victory over the D-backs, assuring them of their third-straight series win. More >
"Once they get two strikes and you have a runner like Hamilton at third, sometimes we won't even throw the ball and just go after the next hitter, but we felt like we could freeze a runner and then give ourselves a chance, which we did," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "Everything worked perfect until the rundown started and then we just botched it."
With Hamilton and Votto in scoring position and two outs, D-backs starter Robbie Ray nearly escaped. But Adam Duvall grounded to third baseman Jake Lamb and reached on his throwing error that scored two runs. Brandon Phillips followed with an RBI single to right field to make it 3-1.

Reds starter Keyvius Sampson survived a rocky 27-pitch top of the first inning that included Chris Owings' two-out RBI single to right field. Sampson, a reliever who picked up a spot start, pitched 4 1/3 innings and gave up four hits before running out of gas but did not allow another run. Michael Lorenzen was credited with the win for following Sampson with 2 2/3 perfect innings.
"Keyvius really set the tone for us and was able to put up some zeros after the first and turn the ball over to the bullpen, which was exceptional," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "That was 11 strikeouts, 14 groundball outs, four hits, I think seven total baserunners. That was a well-pitched game, and the defense was exceptional."

Ray pitched five innings with six runs (three earned), six hits, one walk and a career-high 10 strikeouts. His deficit grew in a third inning that began with three hits that included Jay Bruce's three-run homer.
No. 20 for Bruce: As the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline approaches, Bruce collected his 20th homer of the season and second of the homestand when he drove Ray's 0-2 slider into the right field seats for his three-run homer. Bruce, who was 2-for-4 in the game, last homered on Tuesday vs. the Braves.
"Nothing like a three-run homer. They're difference-makers," Price said. "It just looked like Ray was going to be really tough. He had good velocity and a good slider. We were fortunate that some things went our way in the first inning, and to be able to add that second three-run inning in the third really was a difference-maker considering the type of pitching and defense we had."
Career high for Ray: With a 3-2 count in the sixth, Duvall tipped a 95 mph two-seamer back to catcher Tuffy Gosewisch, who held on to get Duvall on strike three. The strikeout was Ray's 10th of the night, which set a career high for the 24-year-old lefty.
"It was just my fastball command," Ray said. "It's something that's always been really good for me. I worked both sides of the plate with it tonight. I was able to keep them off balance with my curveball and my slider." More >

Bullish on the bullpen: Price lifted Sampson when he had a 1-0 pitch on Michael Bourn on the heels of a walk by Jean Segura. Lorenzen, Jumbo Díaz and Blake Wood combined for 4 2/3 scoreless innings. In the second half, the once-maligned Reds bullpen has a 1.35 ERA with five earned runs allowed over 33 1/3 innings.
Welcome back, Owings: After shortstop Nick Ahmed aggravated a hip injury that landed him on the disabled list, Owings ended up cutting his rehab stint at Triple-A Reno a couple of days short, getting the start on Saturday. In his first at-bat, Owings drove in the lone D-backs run with a single and then tested his plantar fasciitis injury by stealing second base.

"I was just trying to go out there and give them what I had, especially after that first inning. I was like, 'Man, you've got to figure out some kind of way to eat up a few more innings.' I got comfortable in there and started locating my pitches." -- Sampson
"There's no excuse. You've got to go battle. Even if you get down in a game, five, six runs, we have to find a way to put the ball in play and scratch out some runs and get back in it. So that was unfortunate." -- Hale on the D-backs inability to score runs
In the bottom of the sixth with two outs, Bruce appeared to have his second homer of the night when his drive of a 0-1 pitch looked like it cleared the left field wall before bouncing back into play. Umpire Carlos Torres did not give the home run signal and Bruce stopped at second base with a double. After the Reds asked for a crew chief review, the original call of no home run was confirmed.

D-backs: Arizona concludes its series with the Reds with a 10:10 a.m. MST game on Sunday. Zack Godley, a 26-year-old righty, takes the mound for the D-backs for his fourth start of the season. In his previous three starts, he has a 5.06 ERA in 16 innings pitched.
Reds: The series and the homestand conclude at 1:10 p.m. ET Sunday with the Reds sending lefty Brandon Finnegan to pitch in the finale. Finnegan has won his last two starts but was unable to work longer than five innings in either outing.
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Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05.

Cody Pace is a reporter for for based in Cincinnati.