CINCINNATI (AP) -The best way to get over a depressing sweep? Pull off one of your own.
Miguel Cairo hit a two-run homer and Homer Bailey filled in quite nicely for the suspended Johnny Cueto, throwing six impressive innings Sunday to lead the Cincinnati Reds to a 2-0 victory and a rejuvenating three-game sweep of the Florida Marlins.
The Reds got swept by the Cardinals in their showdown series earlier in the week, one that temporarily knocked them out of first place in the NL Central. Cueto got a seven-game suspension for kicking Cardinals during a brawl. The young Reds team got its comeuppance during that series.
Didn't take them long to recover. The Reds moved back into first place by a game when St. Louis lost to the Chicago Cubs 9-7 later Sunday.
``We lose one, two or three games, and the young kids are learning how to come back from that,' Cairo said. ``It's already in the past.'
Cairo, starting at third base so Scott Rolen could get a day off, connected for his fourth homer in the sixth inning against Anibal Sanchez (9-8), who yielded five hits in six innings.
Bailey (2-2) was activated off the disabled list and allowed only three hits in six innings, retiring the last 10 batters he faced.
Logan Ondrusek pitched out of a bases-loaded threat in the seventh by fanning pinch-hitter Chad Tracy. Closer Francisco Cordero, booed the previous night when he struggled to close out a win, gave up a double and a walk in the ninth before striking out pinch-hitter Donnie Murphy for his 32nd save in 38 chances.
``It felt good,' Bailey said. ``The biggest thing is that we were able to pick up the sweep and we go on our road trip on a high.'
The Marlins fell to 3-14 at Great American Ball Park since 2006. They've lost eight of their last 12 games overall, with the offense struggling. Florida went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position Sunday and was 0 for 27 in the series.
``You're not going to be too successful without getting hits with runners in scoring position,' said Dan Uggla, who singled twice. ``Homer Bailey has ace-potential stuff. When he's on like he was today, he's tough to hit.'
The sweep got the Reds moving ahead again after their tumultuous series against St. Louis. Cueto was forced to miss a start because he kicked pitcher Chris Carpenter and catcher Jason LaRue during a brawl touched off by Brandon Phillips' inflammatory comments.
Manager Dusty Baker also got a two-game suspension. He was back in the dugout to complete the sweep, which kept Cincinnati neck-and-neck with St. Louis.
Now, the Reds get one of their toughest tests - a trip to Arizona, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Over the last five seasons, the Reds are 16-35 on the West Coast, where they've had many a season scuttled. LA has provided an especially bad time - Cincinnati has dropped its last 12 at Dodger Stadium since 2006.
``It's a law-of-averages road trip for us going West after all these years,' Baker said.
Sanchez is one of the majors' best at avoiding homers - only five allowed in his previous 22 starts - but even he couldn't escape one of the majors' most homer-friendly ballparks. Cairo's drive landed in the first row of seats in left field.
``The home run by Cairo would have been off the wall in our park,' Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said.
The Reds lost top hitter Joey Votto to another ejection in the first inning.
Votto, the NL's top hitter at .322, was ejected by plate umpire D.J. Reyburn after disagreeing with a called strike - his fourth ejection in the last two seasons for arguing balls-and-strikes. Baker said Votto had complained about a strike call to Jay Bruce when he was on deck.
Marlins center fielder Emilio Bonifacio stole a hit from Jim Edmonds in the fourth, jumping to catch his fly at the top of the wall with one runner aboard. Edmonds later doubled, his first hit in 13 at_bats since the Reds got him in a trade with Milwaukee.
NOTES: Rodriguez moved rookie RF Mike Stanton to fifth in the order, the third time he has batted so high in the order. ... Rodriguez said Hanley Ramirez will bat leadoff for the rest of the season. He's done it 17 times. ... The Reds optioned INF Juan Francisco to Triple-A to open a spot for Bailey. ... SS Orlando Cabrera, on the DL with pulled muscles in his side, played the role of bat boy in the Reds' dugout for a few innings, wearing a jersey that had ``BB' on the back. ... RHP Mike Leake (.364 average) pinch hit in the seventh and flied out.
The Associated Press News Service
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