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MIL@CIN: Hanigan blasts a three-run shot to left

CINCINNATI -- The Brewers are supposed to be a big thorn in the Reds' hopes for repeating as National League Central champions this season. Just as much as having mononucleosis was expected to slow Bronson Arroyo down.

This weekend at least, neither proved to be so.

A 12-3 Reds thumping of the Brewers on a wind-blown Sunday afternoon at Great American Ball Park was a mostly drama-free completion of a three-game series sweep. Cincinnati equaled last season's high with 19 hits and also slugged four home runs, two by Ryan Hanigan.

"Everybody swung the bats well today, top to bottom," said Hanigan, who had a career-high four hits to go with his career-best two-homer game. "Once we got it rolling, we kept pressing. We didn't just sit on a lead, and I like to see that. [The Brewers] can come back. They can score, four or five or six runs easy. We know that."

Arroyo (1-0) pitched seven strong innings despite the fatigue that mono has burdened him with. He allowed three earned runs and six hits and struck out five.

With gusty winds blowing out towards left field, Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks set the long-ball tone by leading off the game and hitting a 2-2 Arroyo pitch into the left-field seats. It was Weeks' second leadoff homer in three games.

All six of Arroyo's hits allowed were solid shots for extra bases, including a sixth-inning homer by Ryan Braun, but he stayed away from big innings.

"I felt as good as I possibly can. I just felt a little weak," Arroyo said. "I feel a little skinny right now. I need to gain a couple of pounds and get some strength back. At times during the season, even being 100 percent and not being sick, you feel this way anyway."

Arroyo also notched a two-out double to right field for himself in the fifth inning, which meant he had to expend energy running the bases.

"He's still coughing down in the tunnel. Nobody is sitting by him," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I was a little worried when he hit that double. You don't like seeing pitchers running the bases mid-to-late in the game. He's in good shape. He knows how to pace himself and knows his body, probably as well as anybody I've had. He takes pride in winning, innings pitched and going deep in ballgames."

In the second inning against Brewers starter Randy Wolf (0-1), Jonny Gomes cleared the left-field fence on an 0-1 pitch with one out. Jay Bruce followed with a single and later scored from third base on Paul Janish's RBI single to right field.

Cincinnati sent nine to the plate in fourth, with all four runs in the inning crossing with two outs. With runners on second and third, Drew Stubbs grounded to third base. Casey McGehee fired home but Hanigan slid in safely just ahead of the tag. On the next pitch, Brandon Phillips went deep to left field for a three-run homer -- part of his three-hit game.

"Those were big," Baker said of the two-out hitting. "Those are things that sustain rallies and lead to the big inning. You roll the lineup around. We played good baseball this weekend."

Wolf finished with six earned runs and 10 hits allowed over four innings, with two walks and five strikeouts. In the fifth inning against reliever Brandon Kintzler, Hanigan hit his first homer of the game, to left field for a 7-2 Reds lead. During a four-run sixth inning, he added a three-run homer against Mitch Stetter.

Hanigan has made attempts in the past two seasons to upgrade as a hitter -- especially run production. His .300 average, five homers and 40 RBIs were all career highs last season.

"I want to be a dangerous guy. I want to have good at-bats," Hanigan said. "At the same time, I want to come up with big hits and be able to drive the ball as well. What I have working now was really working for me the last six to eight weeks of last year, and has kind of carried through."

It was a nice early season sweep over the Brewers, who made some bold offseason additions to earn many predictions that they will take the NL Central this year. In the three wins, seven different Reds slugged eight homers. The last two games featured quality starts and, like Travis Wood on Saturday, Arroyo issued no walks on Sunday. The last two games were also error-free for the Reds.

"Any time you start the season 3-0 against a team you know is going to be there at the end, that's always a big boost for you," Baker said.

The Reds last started 3-0 in 2005, and it may be a little early to start declaring that it was a statement series of any kind.

"When Cincinnati's good, obviously they're a great team," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "But you can come across anybody, and when they're locked-in for three games, you can get beat in three games. If we're not on top of our game against a club like this, they're going to beat us." Comments