By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
07/02/10 7:12 PM ET
CHICAGO -- It's the quirks of baseball that make it unique and the game that it is. Friday's 12-0 Reds rout of the Cubs at Wrigley Field was another fine example.
In Thursday's win over the Cubs, the Reds had 16 hits but scored only three runs in 10 innings. On Friday they scored nine runs in the seventh inning alone, while needing only three hits.
"We're trying to figure out this game but you really can't figure it," said Reds manager Dusty Baker, whose first-place club has won three in a row and nine of the last 11.
Of course, the Cubs also allowed six walks, had one fielding error and a passed ball while 13 Reds batted in the top of the seventh. Reds pitchers combined for a two-hit shutout.
"It was a great team performance today. They helped us and we helped ourselves," Baker said.
While the final score didn't reflect it, this was a tight pitchers' duel between Reds starter Bronson Arroyo and Cubs starter Ryan Dempster through six innings. Dempster allowed only two hits to that point and after Brandon Phillips' homer to lead off the third, he retired 12 in a row.
Arroyo also allowed two hits and retired 13 straight until Mike Fontenot hit a two-out single in the sixth. Derrek Lee followed with a walk but Arroyo escaped the danger by getting Aramis Ramirez to ground to third for a fielder's choice.
"That was a huge turning point for me," said Arroyo, who walked two and struck out three over six innings. "If that inning gets out of hand and they take a three-run lead, it's definitely a different ballgame and Dempster's got a different mentality out there and probably doesn't give up that inning."
Dempster, crossing 100 pitches in the seventh, fell apart as the Reds should be credited for some nice at-bats. Jonny Gomes was down 0-2 before drawing a leadoff walk and Jay Bruce walked on four pitches. Ramon Hernandez hit a grounder to second base at Fontenot, who dropped the ball trying to tag Bruce to load the bases.
The most pivotal plate appearance was Arroyo, who came up with one out and drew a four-pitch walk from Dempster to force home a run. From there, inning seven became run-scoring heaven for Cincinnati as the Cubs imploded.
Against reliever Brian Schlitter, Phillips worked a 1-2 count into a walk to score another run. With two outs and Joey Votto batting, a passed ball on catcher Koyie Hill scored Hernandez. After Votto walked, Scott Rolen's two-run single up the middle and Gomes' two-run double to the center-field wall blew the game wide open, but the inning kept going and going.
"I could never have expected that, especially with Dempster on the mound and myself up. He had one out," Arroyo said. "I thought maybe we'd put a couple of more on the board but I didn't think it was going to explode like that."
After another four-pitch walk to Bruce, Bob Howry allowed a Hernandez two-run double to make it a 10-run game. Gomes and Bruce were the first Reds to score twice in an inning since Felipe Lopez and Sean Casey on Aug. 5, 2004.
"Patient hitting, that's all it was," Gomes said. "Trusting the guy behind you -- we did a good job of that."
The nine-run seventh was the Reds' most in a single inning since scoring 10 against Arizona on Aug. 19, 2005. The six walks were the most in an inning since Aug. 10, 2005 against the Cubs in Chicago.
Since the inning took about 35 minutes and required 58 pitches by the Cubs, Arroyo was told he was finished for the day despite having only 89 pitches. Logan Ondrusek and Micah Owings completed the shutout.
"There was no reason for me to push it this time of year," Arroyo said. "Obviously we're in a different position now than we've ever been in before since I've been on this club. You have to think about further down the line. A little bit of rest could help in the future."
For good measure, Votto added a two-run home run in the eighth inning. It gave Votto 19 homers this season, tying him with Albert Pujols for the National League lead.
At 81 games, the halfway point of the season, the Reds are 46-35 while sitting on top of the NL Central. On the 81st game of last season, their 22-1 loss at Philadelphia left them 40-41. The 45th win didn't come until the 98th game of the 2009 season.
"They have the look of a team that has a lot of momentum, a lot of energy, a lot of positive energy," Hill said. "You see that when they come on the field, you see that in their style of play. They look like they believe in themselves. Just watching them go about their business and the at-bats they have, if you didn't know their record, you'd think they were a team competing for first place."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs