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Bats come alive as Reds rout Rays

The SportsXchange

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Reds hope Sunday's game is a sign of things to come for their struggling offense.

Pinch-hitter Chris Heisey's first career grand slam was one of three home runs hit Sunday by Cincinnati, and left-hander Tony Cingrani pitched six strong innings, lifting the Reds to a 12-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in the finale of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park.

"We just have to keep the faith," said Reds manager Bryan Price, who held a team meeting following Saturday's 1-0 loss. "Pressure is self-induced. We know we have a good team. We just need to go out and play the way we're capable of playing."

First baseman Joey Votto hit a two-run home run and catcher Devin Mesoraco added a three-run shot and had a career-high four RBIs as Cincinnati (4-8) avoided being swept by the Rays.

"Baseball is a game of failure," Reds right fielder Jay Bruce said. "It's a tough game. Over the course of the year we're going to do just fine. We just have to be prepared to take advantage of those situations when we have runners on base."

Cingrani (1-1) allowed two runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings, the 21st consecutive start in which he allowed five or fewer hits. Cingrani was proud to be the beneficiary of the Reds' 12-run, 13-hit outburst. "It was a matter of time," he said. "Today happened to be the day we broke out of it."

Rays left fielder Ben Zobrist homered from both sides of the plate for the first time in his career for Tampa Bay (7-6). Zobrist went 2-for-5 with four RBIs. But it was not enough.

"They hit a three-run homer, and a four-run homer. It's tough to beat those," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

Rays starter Cesar Ramos, who was filling Matt Moore's spot in the rotation while the left-hander recovers from a sore left elbow, planned to throw around 70 pitches. But he reached 35 by the second inning.

In the second inning, Ramos loaded the bases on three walks. Shortstop Zack Cozart made him pay with an opposite-field ground-rule double to give Cincinnati a 2-0 lead.

The inning ended with the Reds having two runners thrown out at the plate during a wild 6-2-4-3-2 double play beginning with a Cingrani ground ball to shortstop Yunel Escobar.

Maddon's decision to bat first baseman Sean Rodriguez in the ninth position paid off in the third when he walked and scored on Zobrist's two-out, two-run homer to left to tie the score 2-2.

Votto untied the score in the bottom half with a two-out, two-run home run, which sailed 452 feet to center.

Ramos (0-1) allowed four runs and three hits in two-plus innings.

"I wasn't missing by much," Ramos said. "I didn't get a couple of strikes. That's the difference. You fall behind and you pay for it. I walked three guys in a row which is unacceptable."

Later in the third, Mesoraco hit a three-run home run on an 0-2 pitch from Rays right-hander Brandon Gomes to make the score 7-2. Gomes allowed three runs on four hits in one inning of work.

Five Tampa Bay relievers combined to allow 10 hits and eight runs. The Rays were down one arm on Sunday due to right-hander Joel Peralta being unavailable due to illness.

Mesoraco's sacrifice fly put Cincinnati ahead 8-2 in the fifth.

Tampa Bay loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth. But catcher Ryan Hanigan popped out to Votto to end the inning and one of few scoring threats for the Rays on Sunday.

"One of those days, man," Maddon said. "You just file it and move on. This is less than the 30-minute rule. This is the 30-second rule. Just drop it and move on."

NOTES: Rays LHP Cesar Ramos batted eighth on Sunday. "The way he's been stretched out, we don't expect him to pitch deep into the game. By hitting him in the eighth hole, we can make that decision sooner," Maddon explained before the game. ... A MRI revealed that Reds RHP Mat Latos has a flexor mass strain, further delaying his rehab from elbow surgery. Latos will be shut down for 10-14 days before he resumes throwing. ... Rays RHP Alex Cobb, who pitched seven shutout innings on Saturday, was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain. ... LHP Jeff Beliveau was recalled from Triple-A Durham prior to Sunday's game. After pitching one scoreless inning Sunday, Beliveau was optioned back to Triple-A. A corresponding move will be made Monday. ... Third base umpire Tim Welke worked his 4,000th career game on Sunday.

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