Hanigan homer helps Reds maintain dominance over Cubs

Jeff Wallner, Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CINCINNATI - Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan was struggling mightily at the plate when he went on the disabled list in late April with a strained left oblique. Hanigan says he's finally feeling good physically. His bat is getting healthy, too.
On Friday night, Hanigan hit a three-run home run to highlight a five-run fourth inning for Cincinnati, and Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips also homered, lifting the Reds to a 7-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs in the opener of a three-game series before a sold-out crowd of 40,716 at Great American Ball Park.
"I still have some healing to do, but for the most part I feel good," Hanigan said. "I've made some adjustments with my swing as well. They went after me tonight, and I got a pitch to handle."
Cincinnati (30-18) has won 15 of its last 17 games against the Cubs dating to last season. The Reds improved to 17-6 at home this season.
Phillips broke open a one-run game in the eighth with a two-run homer off Cubs right-hander Hector Rondon. Phillips went 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. His game-clinching homer came after a nine-pitch at-bat.
"The guys in the dugout were saying 'Win the battle, win the battle'," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "Those were big runs there."
Cubs starting pitcher Scott Feldman (4-4) hit a two-run home run, the first of his career, to give the Cubs an early three-run lead. But he gave up a season-high five runs in losing for the first time since April 21.
"He was one pitch away from having a good outing -- a 3-2 hanging curveball (to Hanigan) with the pitcher coming up," said Cubs manager Dale Sveum. "That was a bad mistake at the wrong time in a situation where he didn't even have to throw a strike."
Luis Valbuena, who was hitless in his previous three games, went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI for Chicago. But the struggles continued for the Cubs (18-29), who lost for the fifth straight time.
"Four runs and the pitcher provides two of them," Sveum said. "Not a whole lot (of offense), again. We scratched a couple of other (runs) out, but we didn't have any big crooked numbers."
Reds starter Bronson Arroyo (5-4) earned the victory despite not having his best stuff. Arroyo threw 54 pitches through three innings, but recovered to pitch six innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits.
"He wasn't as sharp as he can be," said Hanigan of Arroyo. "But he battled the whole way. We were able to give him a chance to get the win."
Ryan Sweeney doubled and scored on Valbuena's RBI single off Jonathan Broxton to get the Cubs within a run in the eighth. But Phillips answered with his two-run blast in the bottom of the inning.
With one out in the ninth, the Cubs had runners on first and second. But Aroldis Chapman struck out Anthony Rizzo and pinch-hitter Alfonso Soriano to earn his 11th save.
Arroyo's 14 1/3-inning scoreless streak abruptly ended in the second inning when Valbuena doubled and later scored on Darwin Barney's sacrifice fly putting the Cubs ahead, 1-0.
Moments later, Feldman jumped on a 3-2 pitch from Arroyo and deposited it in the right-field seats, giving Chicago a 3-0 lead. His first career homer came on a 71-mph curveball from Arroyo.
"Giving up home run to the pitcher can play tricks on you psychologically, but I was able to work through it," Arroyo said. "I didn't feel great the whole game. They stacked the lefties against me. I knew it was going to be a battle."
Feldman, who was 4-0 with a 1.27 ERA in his past five outings, retired nine straight batters before things unraveled for him in the fourth.
Votto hit a solo home run with one out. Xavier Paul's RBI single made the score 3-2. Then, with runners on first and third and two outs, Hanigan hit his second home run, a three-run shot to left to put Cincinnati ahead 5-3. Feldman hadn't allowed more than four runs this season.
"That was a really bonehead pitch," Feldman said. "With the pitcher on deck, I threw the one pitch he can hit for a three-run homer. That one stings a little bit."
NOTES: Votto's home run extended his hitting streak to 12 games. ... The Reds placed LHP Sean Marshall on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left shoulder. It's the second time this season Marshall has been on the DL with shoulder issues. LHP Manny Parra was reinstated from the DL to fill Marshall's spot in the bullpen. ... Sweeney made his third start in left field in place of Soriano, who got the night off until his pinch-hitting assignment in the ninth. Soriano was batting just .200 in his career against Arroyo. ... Cubs SS Starlin Castro started Friday's game and showed no ill-effects from a slightly swollen ankle he injured on an awkward slide in the sixth inning of Thursday's game at Pittsburgh.

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