Gabe Gross hit Arroyo’s first pitch over the right-field wall, and Arroyo (3-0) said he got a “vibe” when he looked at Brewers third base coach Dale Sveum, who was in Boston with Arroyo until this season.
“I immediately looked at Dale Sveum and forgot that he was my third base coach,” Arroyo said. “He might have tipped him off or he might have just been aggressive. I don’t know, but I thought it was funny nobody swung at that pitch all year.”
Arroyo allowed six hits and retired 10 in a row at one point to pin the loss on Sheets (0-2), who struck out 10 in seven innings.
Arroyo said he has no plans to be Cincinnati’s ace, but he may not have a choice after starting 3-0 for the second straight season.
“The goal is 15 wins, 200 innings, regardless of when you get them,” Arroyo said. “I don’t necessarily want to be anybody’s ace unless it comes to playoff time.”
David Weathers pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save in five opportunities.
Lopez led off the fourth inning by striking out on Sheets’ wild pitch. He reached first without a throw and stole his sixth base on the next pitch. Lopez went to third on Adam Dunn’s groundout and scored on Rich Aurilia’s RBI single.
“The ball did exactly what I wanted it to do, make him swing and miss,” Sheets said of the pitch that got away from Chad Moeller.
Phillips led off the fifth with a double. Sheets struck out the next two hitters, but couldn’t get out of trouble.
Ryan Freel hit a slow bouncer to Corey Koskie, whose throw from third was off target. A stretching Prince Fielder went to the ground to corral the errant throw but Freel reached on the infield single.
Phillips raced around third and beat Fielder’s throw home to give Cincinnati a 2-1 lead.
“I tried to run as hard as I can, tried to score, tried to make a nice play at home plate and it ended up being the winning run,” Phillips said.
The Reds tacked on an insurance run in the eighth. Lopez, who finished 2-for-4 and scored two runs, doubled and scored on Scott Hatteberg’s single.
Gross’ home run off Arroyo was the first of his career leading off a game.
He also led off the sixth with a single and reached third but Fielder struck out trying to stop his swing on a high pitch.
The Brewers also had runners in scoring position in the seventh and eighth innings but failed to score.
“It’s kind of been our albatross or whatever you want to call it,” Gross said. “Here lately, we’ve really had some games where we’ve had opportunities to either tie ballgames or take the lead late and just for whatever reason just haven’t come up with the big hit.”
Sheets, who recorded 10 or more strikeouts for the 11th time in his career, consistently hit 95 mph on his fastball throughout his performance, but failed to record his first win since tearing a muscle in his back Aug. 26. He gave up two runs and six hits.
Sheets struck out 10 or more for the first time since July 4 in a 3-2 victory against Florida. … Freel extended his hitting streak to eight. … Brewers manager Ned Yost said that when a pitcher can help himself out at the plate like Arroyo has done so far this season, it can be worth an extra win or two over the course of the season. Arroyo went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. … Reds manager Jerry Narron said Phillips has been an “outstanding surprise.” Phillips hit two home runs, including his first grand slam, on Thursday night. He was acquired from Cleveland on April 7 for cash or a player to be named. “No one expected him to come in here and have 13 RBIs,” Narron said.