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Associated Press
Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier points to the crowd after hitting a two-run home run off San Diego starting pitcher Ross Ohlendorf on Thursday.

Early outburst seals Reds’ win

– Todd Frazier and the Cincinnati Reds geared up for their big weekend series against the Pittsburgh Pirates – yes, the Pirates – by pounding the San Diego Padres.

Frazier hit a two-run homer in a six-run second inning and Johnny Cueto overcame a pair of rare long balls to pitch into the eighth inning Thursday, leading the surging Reds to their 13th win in 14 games, 9-4 over the Padres.

“You want to have big innings every game,” Frazier said. “We had the big six-run second, and everybody contributed. We batted around.”

Scott Rolen had three hits, Frazier had three RBI and Jay Bruce drove in two runs, helping push the Reds to 23 games over .500 (64-41) for the first time since Sept. 4, 2010.

The Reds scored a combined 35 runs – the two teams scored 52 runs in the four-game series – while taking three of four from San Diego and have won 20 of 23. They are 14-3 since All-Star first baseman Joey Votto left the lineup with a knee injury that required surgery and have won two straight since star second baseman Brandon Phillips was sidelined with a strained left calf.

Cueto (14-5), who gave up home runs for the first time in more than two months, allowed eight hits and four runs with one walk. He also tied his season high with nine strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings while winning his career-high fifth consecutive start. He was hurt by leaving a couple of breaking balls up, catcher Ryan Hanigan said.

“He pitched well,” Hanigan said. “He wasn’t as dominant as he can be, but he did a good job managing the game.”

Cincinnati opened a 3 1/2 -game lead over idle Pittsburgh in the NL Central heading into a three-game weekend series between the two teams that is scheduled to start today.

The Reds chased Padres starter Ross Ohlendorf while sending 12 batters to the plate during a six-hit, six-run second inning. Rolen started it with an infield hit. Frazier followed with his 13th homer and second in three games, a 408-foot drive into the left field seats.

Hanigan added an RBI double and Bruce had a bases-loaded, two-run single. Ohlendorf (3-2) also was called for a run-scoring balk before leaving after just 1 2/3 innings, the shortest outing by a San Diego starter this season.