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Votto, Phillips homer to lead Reds win
, Associated Press Writer
Monday, March 17, 2014 11:00 AM
GOODYEAR, Ariz. - Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips homered to power the Cincinnati Reds past the Oakland Athletics 7-6 on Sunday.
Votto's first home run of the spring came off A's starter Sonny Gray. Billy Hamilton had two hits for the Reds, including a push bunt down the first base line that caught pitcher Josh Lindblom flat-footed. Lindblom couldn't get to first base to cover on the play.
Hamilton stole second and third as Lindblom fell behind in the count to Phillips, who belted his second home run. Hamilton also singled home a run in the second.
"Billy is that guy. He's doing the things we've asked him to do," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "We've asked him to get on base and make things happen. He's been terrific. He's done everything we've asked for and more."
On defense, Hamilton made a diving catch in center field of a line drive hit by Alden Carrithers.
Derek Norris, one of three catchers in the running for roster spots with the A's, doubled home two runs in the first off Tony Cingrani. That came after Norris' foul pop fell between Votto and catcher Devin Mesoraco, who was charged with an error.
Cingrani pitched into the fifth but left with none out. He was charged with five runs - three earned - and three hits. He struck out four, walked three and balked, which allowed another run to score. Oakland's Billy Burns struck out swinging but reached base on a wild pitch.
"I was overstriding in the first inning," Cingrani said. "I found my mechanics, though. In the fifth my arm was dead. Maybe it was because we had a long fourth."
"It wasn't a great game but it was nice to win," Price said.
Meanwhile, Chris Heisey hit his fifth spring homer and Cincinnati had 18 hits in a 16-4 rout of Milwaukee on Saturday after Reds starter Homer Bailey was scratched with a sore right groin.
Brett Marshall subbed for Bailey and allowed one run in three innings. The right-hander has allowed one run in nine spring innings with 11 strikeouts.
Heisey belted a two-run homer in the first inning and a double in the third. He is hitting .421 with 11 RBIs in 13 games this spring.
Heisey had four home runs last spring and hopes a new stance with his hands lowered will help him feel comfortable at the plate. He was hitting during the offseason with a friend, Mets minor leaguer Joey Tuschak, and noticed how relaxed he looked at the plate with his hands low.
"That's a place I've been trying to get to," said Heisey, who hit .237 with nine home runs in 87 games last season. "One day, I tried it and it felt really good and so far in the games I've felt really good. When I get tense, I speed things up and this has helped me slow the game down. Over the past four or five years, I've probably has 10 or more stances, so It would be great to stick with something."
Neftali Soto had three hits, including a solo home run off Milwaukee reliever Francisco Rodriguez in the fifth. Roger Bernadina and Chris Nelson homered in the eighth for Cincinnati.
In a late exhibition on Friday, Johnny Cueto became the first Cincinnati pitcher to finish five innings this spring, limiting Texa to five hits and one run in a 2-1 Reds win.
Cueto also had five strikeouts, twice fanning Prince Fielder, in a bid to start on opening day.
"Cueto looked great. His velocity was up, not that it's paramount but it seemed like he did," Price said. "He had a real good cut fastball, sinker and four-seamer, that's three different pitches off the same pitch. ... You add a cutter to that and that's how Greg Maddux made a beautiful living."
Manny Parra earned the save, striking out two in a hitless ninth.
Chris Nelson singled in Zack Cozart and Devin Mesoraco in the second against Tanner Scheppers.
Michael Choice doubled off Cueto in the second and singled home the only run off Cueto in the fourth.
"Cueto just got a slider up to Choice that he hit for the single that scored their run," Price said.
Hamilton threw Elvis Andrus out at third earlier in the inning to help protect the lead.
Hamilton is taking over the center field and leadoff spot that Shin-Soo Choo held last season. Hamilton reached base twice and stole his seventh base of the spring in as many tries. Hamilton set a professional record with 155 stolen bases in the minor leagues in 2012.
Choo, who signed with Texas as a free agent, was 0 for 4 against his former teammates as the designated hitter.
Reds right-handers Mat Latos and Jonathan Broxton have completed their throwing programs and are scheduled to participate in game action early this week.
Sean Marshall began his throwing program Friday with a pain-free, 20-pitch bullpen session.
"Marshall has a little bit of work to do," Price said.
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