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CHC@CIN: Votto clubs majestic solo homer in fourth

CINCINNATI -- Joey Votto started it; his teammates just finished the job.

With the Reds trailing the Cubs 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth on Friday night, Votto -- the National League's reigning Player of the Week -- hit a solo bomb to left field to put his team on the board. That home run opened the floodgates, as Cincinnati went on to score four more runs in the fourth inning on the way to a 7-4 win in the series opener against Chicago.

As they have done most of the season, Votto and Brandon Phillips set the tone for the Reds' offense, but it was the other guys in the lineup that made the big difference on Friday night. Manager Dusty Baker knew it was only a matter of time.

"It's a long race," Baker said. "It's a long year. They just can't panic."

After Votto's homer -- his eighth of the season and fourth in the last seven games -- started the big fourth inning, Phillips hit a crisp single to left field. With Jay Bruce at the plate, Phillips took off for second after a wild pitch from Scott Feldman and reached third on an errant throw from catcher Dioner Navarro. Following a Bruce strikeout and a Todd Frazier walk, left fielder Xavier Paul stepped to the plate and drove home Phillips.

The five-run fourth was capped by Ryan Hanigan's three-run homer, giving the Reds the lead and eventually the win. Hanigan's home run came on a 3-2 pitch with starter Bronson Arroyo due up next, and the Reds' catcher was surprised he got something to hit.

"They went at me, and I got a pitch to handle," Hanigan said. "I put us up there, and got Bronson a chance to get the win. That was a big, big turn in the game there, that five-run inning. Guys had good at-bats, getting on base, a couple hits. I popped one and gave us the cushion there."

Feldman said after the game that he regretted giving Hanigan the hanging curveball.

"It really was a bonehead pitch there," Feldman said. "We had the pitcher on deck, and the one thing that could hurt us right there was giving up a home run. That one stings a little bit. It did come down to that one pitch, and I wish I had it back."

The win was the Reds' fifth straight over the Cubs this season and the sixth in seven tries. It also marked the 15th victory in the last 17 games against Chicago, dating back to last season.

Early on, it was the Cubs who used a big inning to their advantage. Playing in front of the third sellout crowd at Great American Ball Park this season, Cincinnati fell behind in the second inning when a sacrifice fly off the bat of Darwin Barney ended Arroyo's season-high scoreless streak at 15 1/3 innings. The next batter, Feldman, connected on his first career home run to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead after two.

"That hurt a lot," Arroyo said of Feldman's home run. "I thought I was going to get out of the inning, give up one run and get right back on track, but I ended up giving up that homer to him."

Chicago threatened again in the fourth when Luis Valbuena reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to second thanks to a balk by Arroyo. The 36-year-old right-hander, who said he didn't agree with the call, rolled his right ankle on the play, but he said it didn't bother him.

"If that run would have come in, it would have bothered me more than my ankle," Arroyo joked. "But we got out with two pop-ups there, and that might have been a turning point for us to kind of keep it a 3-0 lead and give us an opportunity to come back."

Arroyo, coming off back-to-back scoreless outings, recovered after the second to throw four shutout innings, ending the night with six hits, two walks and two strikeouts in six innings of work. He moved to 5-4 on the year, despite the fact he didn't feel at his best beginning with warmups in the bullpen.

Following a scoreless seventh inning from Logan Ondrusek, Jonathan Broxton came on in the eighth and allowed the Cubs one more run on a Valbuena RBI single. He limited the damage, though, by striking out Navarro and inducing a lineout in foul territory from Barney.

In the bottom half of the inning, Phillips added a two-run homer. Aroldis Chapman entered in the ninth, and notched the save after surrendering a hit and a walk that made it interesting.

"Those were big runs we got from Brandon, because you see, they're always going to threaten one more time," Baker said. "That's why they call them insurance runs."

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