Hamilton, Keppinger help Arroyo, Reds nip Braves

Reds 4, Braves 2

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Bronson Arroyo's inability to bunt paid off for the Reds.

After failing to lay down a sacrifice bunt, Cincinnati's starting pitcher chopped a single into left field in the fifth inning that ended up producing the decisive runs as the Reds beat the Atlanta Braves 4-2 on Wednesday night.

"It's always fun to do something like that and have it work," said Reds manager Pete Mackanin. "Especially when it helps you win the game."

Josh Hamilton and Jeff Keppinger hit consecutive home runs to keep third-place Atlanta from picking up ground in the NL East. The Braves remain six games behind first-place New York and a game behind Philadelphia, both of whom lost Wednesday night.

Atlanta fell two games behind San Diego in the wild-card standings.

"There's no more 'We'll get 'em tomorrow,'" said catcher Brian McCann, who hit a home run and was charged with an error after Arroyo's hit. "If we want to get to the postseason, where everybody wants to be, we have to start playing better baseball."

Arroyo (7-13) needed 100 pitches over 5 1/3 innings in a game that started with the temperature at 96 degrees to win consecutive starts for only the second time this season. He gave up six hits and two runs with three walks and five strikeouts, helping Cincinnati win for the third time in four games.

"It was really, really hot, but I felt better in the sixth inning than I did in the first," said Arroyo, who had Mackanin worried after throwing 34 pitches in the first inning.

"Any time you see that, you get a little nervous," Mackanin said. "I was hoping he'd give us five innings. He did a good job giving us that."

Mike Stanton and Jared Burton pitched 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief before David Weathers pitched the ninth for his 27th save in 32 opportunities.

Lance Cormier (0-4) retired the first nine batters he faced before Hamilton hit the first pitch of the fourth inning over the center-field wall for his 16th homer of the season. Keppinger followed with his third homer to give Cincinnati a 2-1 lead.

Arroyo gave himself some breathing room in the fifth by driving in Javier Valentin from second base with a single to left field. Edwin Encarnacion, who'd pushed Valentin to second by drawing a walk with Arroyo on deck, went from first to third on the hit and scored when left fielder Willie Harris' throw got past McCann and into the Reds' dugout for an error.

Arroyo's hit came after he took the first pitch for a ball and bunted through the second pitch for strike one. Mackanin gave the "swing away" sign and Arroyo's chopper fell for a hit.

"I figured I'd get a four-seamer on the plate, and I thought I might squeeze one in there," Arroyo said, adding with a smile, "I think Pete's more confident in my swinging ability than my bunting ability."

Cormier allowed four hits and four runs -- three earned -- with a walk and three strikeouts to remain winless in six appearances, including five starts.

"He was decent," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. "He just gave up the two home runs, and he walked the No. 8 hitter, which isn't always good."

McCann led off the fourth with his 15th home run of the season to give Atlanta a 1-0 lead. He has homered once in each of the first three games of the series.

Andruw Jones hit a solo shot, his 24th homer of the season, in the sixth inning.

Game notes
Ken Griffey Jr.'s sixth-inning double was his 1,093rd career extra-base hit, trying Hall of Famer Dave Winfield for 16th on the all-time list. ... Shortstop Edgar Renteria saw one pitch before leaving Atlanta's game against Cincinnati on Wednesday after aggravating the right ankle injury that forced him to miss 17 games this month. Renteria was activated from the 15-day disabled list before Wednesday's game. ... The Braves optioned rookie infielder Martin Prado to Triple-A Richmond. ... Reds shortstop Alex Gonzalez was reinstated from the bereavement list and infielder Mark Bellhorn was sent to Triple-A Louisville.