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Reds complete opening sweep of Brewers

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Associated Press
April 3, 2011
— With big swings on a windy day, the defending NL Central champions blew away one of their top challengers.

Ryan Hanigan hit two of Cincinnati's four homers, finishing with a career-high four hits, and the Reds overpowered the Milwaukee Brewers 12-3 on Sunday, completing a season-opening sweep that showed the champs at their best.


The Reds piled up 19 hits, matching their season high from last year, when they won the division with the league's top offense. A dozen Reds had at least one hit, including starter Bronson Arroyo (1-0).


Didn't take their offense any time at all to get rolling.


"We've got a lot of guys that can hurt you on this team," said Hanigan, who had a solo homer and a three-run shot. "We basically don't want any easy outs, that's how I see it. We want to make them work top to bottom. If we can do that, it's going to be tough to get through our lineup."


Hanigan's first career multihomer game highlighted an afternoon of all-or-nothing swings into a brisk wind. Jonny Gomes and Brandon Phillips also homered for the Reds, who left an early impression on their rival.


"Hey, they're playing really good right now," Brewers first-year manager Ron Roenicke said. "They played three great games."


Arroyo went seven innings even though he's still recovering from mononucleosis, giving up six hits and a pair of solo homers. He's down to 185 pounds because of the illness, about eight fewer than at the end of last season.


The lanky pitcher wound up running the bases on his fifth-inning double, but pulled through.


"He gave us all he had today," manager Dusty Baker said. "He's still coughing in the dugout, and nobody sits near him. I was a little worried after he hit that double."


Against Milwaukee, the Reds seldom have to fret.


The Reds are 3-0 for the first time since 2005, when they swept the Mets to open the season. They've won 18 of 21 against the Brewers, who are 0-3 for the first time since 2003.


Left-hander Randy Wolf (0-1) lasted only six innings, giving up six runs and 10 hits. The bullpen wasn't much better, allowing the Reds to pull away.


"Obviously it's a tough series for us," Wolf said. "We definitely don't want to start off the way we did. Personally, I don't want to start the season the way I did."


The Brewers aspire to overtake the Reds after loading up their rotation with Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in the offseason. The opening series showed emphatically that Cincinnati still owns the division.


Especially the way their catchers are swinging.


The Reds rallied for a 7-6 win on opening day, when Ramon Hernandez hit a two-out, three-run homer in the ninth off closer John Axford - the last of the catcher's four hits. Hanigan, who splits time with Hernandez, also had four hits and a walk on Sunday, driving in four runs.


Two of the NL's top offenses went at it during the series, with Cincinnati easily getting the upper hand.


There were 14 homers - 10 of them solo shots - by 11 players in one of the majors' most homer-friendly parks. Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun went deep against Arroyo.


Weeks set the tone on opening day, when he became the first Brewers player to lead off the first game with a homer. On Sunday, Weeks led off with another homer.


Again, the Reds were able to top it. Easily.


Arroyo got a lot of just-off swings on pitches that sometimes registered 68 mph - and that was with a tail wind. The right-hander felt miserable for most of spring training, and no one knew why until he got blood tests that detected mononucleosis.


Baker gave him extra rest, and he looked strong in his first start, hitting 88 mph with his fastball. He threw 65 strikes out of 87 pitches.


"I'm still a little weak," Arroyo said. "I never got a few pounds back."


NOTES: Approximately 600 dogs were in the ballpark as part of an annual pet promotion by the Reds. ... The Brewers have their home opener Monday afternoon against Atlanta, celebrating the 10th anniversary of Miller Park. Milwaukee was 40-41 at home last season. ... The Reds had 19 hits last season at home against Houston on May 28 and in Milwaukee on July 27. ... Reds LHP Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth in his first appearance of the season and topped out at 103 mph on the radar gun. He hit 105 mph last season.



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