CINCINNATI -- Hitting. Pitching. Defense. Bronson Arroyo did it all.
The lanky right-hander hit the first of Cincinnati's three homers off rookie John Ely, pitched seven innings and completed three double plays while covering first base Thursday, playing the leading role in up a 7-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers that salvaged the final game of a disappointing homestand.
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"Bronson stopped the bleeding against a pretty good team," manager Dusty Baker said.
Arroyo's first homer in two years was the highlight of his all-around impressive game.
"Hitting's more fun," he said. "I had the worst stuff I've had in a while. The only thing I had was a sinker. I tried to stay down in the zone and get ground balls. I was fortunate. Those [double] plays changed the game, especially the first one. That shows how funny this game is."
Arroyo (6-3) issued a career-high six walks and allowed five hits, but helped himself on defense. He was on the back end of three double plays, covering first for the relay throw. All three ended rallies.
The Reds moved a half-game ahead of idle St. Louis in the NL Central. It's the latest Cincinnati has been in first place since June 17, 2002, the final season at Cinergy Field.
Cincinnati went 4-6 on its longest homestand of the season, but managed to stay tied or alone in first place throughout because the Cardinals struggled, too.
The Dodgers outscored the Reds 18-2 while winning the first two games of the series against a team it has dominated like no other. Los Angeles is 25-7 against Cincinnati since 2006.
The Dodgers had a chance to get back into the game in the eighth, when they loaded the bases with two outs on a pair of singles and a walk. Left-hander Arthur Rhodes got pinch-hitter Manny Ramirez to ground out, keeping the lead at 7-1.
The 24-year-old Ely attended college a 35-minute drive away and had numerous college coaches and friends in the stands, leaving him a little extra excited. Facing the Reds for the first time, he had the worst showing in his 10 big-league starts.
"I had some folks in the stands, and it would have been nice to throw up a better outing for them," Ely said.
His worst moment came in the second inning, when Arroyo came up with two outs and two runners aboard. With a 1-1 count, he tried to throw a fastball inside. Instead, it wound up right down the middle, belt high. Ely doubled over on the mound as soon as the ball left the bat, knowing it was gone.
"I knew he could swing the bat," Ely said. "I didn't know he was going to hit a bomb."
Arroyo's fifth career homer -- his first in two years -- made it 3-1.
"It's pure luck," Arroyo said.
Ely lasted 4 1/3 innings, giving up seven runs, eight hits and three walks. The three homers allowed matched the total he allowed in his nine previous starts combined.
"He's a youngster," manager Joe Torre said. "It's unfair to expect things. We have to see how emotionally he's going to be able to handle bouncing back. He's going to get the opportunity to do it."
Besides supplying most of the pitching and offense, Arroyo became an integral part of the NL's second-best defense. The Dodgers grounded into double plays in the first, fourth and seventh. All three started with grounders to Votto, who threw to second and watched Arroyo cover first for him on the relay.
- Ely singled home LA's run, the first RBI of his career.
- The Dodgers put SS Rafael Furcal on the bereavement list so he could be with a sick family member in the Dominican Republic. SS Chin-lung Hu was called up from Triple-A Albuquerque.
- Ramirez got a day out of the starting lineup following a night game. He'll return to Boston on Friday for an interleague series, his first appearance there since he was traded to the Dodgers in 2008.
- The Reds make their first West Coast trip of the season. They were 2-7 on the West Coast last year and are only 13-32 there during the last four seasons.