D-backs' Haren homers, shuts down Reds

Haren homers, shuts down Reds

CINCINNATI -- D-backs starter Dan Haren tried to hide the smile as he jogged around the bases Tuesday against the Reds.

Moments before, he had just hit the first home run of his career to left field to give the D-backs a six-run lead in the sixth inning.

Forgive Haren for smiling. In a midst of a five-game losing streak, he and his teammates had very few reasons to be happy.

But that all changed in a 6-2 win.

"I was thinking about how much money all the other starting pitchers owed me for that hit," Haren said jokingly about his first homer. "I mentioned the dollar amount to [Reds second baseman] Brandon Phillips as I was crossing second. I don't know if he heard me or not."

Haren (7-5) didn't need to mention his pitching performance. It spoke for itself against the Reds' lineup. All season, he has been the money pitcher for the D-backs and was on top of his game again.

He pitched seven innings and allowed one run and only four hits. The Reds didn't get their first hit until there were two outs in the fifth inning. Haren also had nine strikeouts and walked one batter.

"He's really remarkable in how he brings his best to the table every game," D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. "He could throw the ball anywhere he wanted."

Haren pauses for a moment during his windup at the top of his leg kick. The delivery, though not conventional, clearly has worked. He lowered his National League-leading ERA to 2.19 in the victory.

"He had command of all his pitches," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He had everything working. We didn't have much of a chance early in the game because he was sharp."

Haren's teammates gave him a chance for a win early in the game. After he was a tough-luck loser in his last start against the Rangers when he allowed one run, he had plenty of run support this time.

Haren helped his cause in the third when he doubled off Reds starter Bronson Arroyo and advanced to third on Felipe Lopez's groundout. He was thrown out at the plate when Stephen Drew hit a ground ball to third base.

But the D-backs dug deep with two outs.

Justin Upton reached on an infield single and advanced to second on an errant throw by Phillips. Both runners scored when third baseman Mark Reynolds ripped a single to left field.

Reynolds advanced to second on the throw home and Gerardo Parra then singled up the middle to give the D-backs a 3-0 lead.

And they gave him more of a cushion in the sixth. On an 0-2 pitch, catcher Miguel Montero homered to right field with Tony Clark at first to make it 5-0.

The next batter was Haren, and on the first pitch he saw, he hit one out to left for his second hit of the game.

"He was trying to put his head down and not smile," Hinch said. "He's such a fierce competitor, to see him take pride in that moment for him was fun."

Yet once Haren left, the innings didn't come easy. The Reds loaded the bases in the eighth with one out. But reliever Jon Rauch managed to get the D-backs out of the jam with only one run to preserve the victory for Haren.

"With one swing of the bat, they could be back in it," Hinch said. "[Rauch] squashed it right there in the eighth."

And that helped squash the D-backs' losing streak.

"It gets us back smiling again," Hinch said. "It's nice for us to start to gather a little momentum and for tomorrow to build on that."

Steve Gartner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.