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TOR@CIN: Mesocraco lifts a high, three-run homer

CINCINNATI -- The rules prohibited the Reds from getting a do-over or mulligan to fully wipe clean Friday's rough loss to the Blue Jays. Nor were any time machines at their disposal to alter the outcome.

On Saturday, they got about as close as they could to the next best thing. Once again, the Reds took a giant eight-run lead early -- but this time, they got the ending right with an 11-1 victory over Toronto before a sellout crowd of 42,530 fans at Great American Ball Park.

"It was a character game," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It was a game where we needed to show up and we needed to get the taste of yesterday's loss out of our mouth and move forward and get a win. And it was a convincing win, and it showed the guys are really into it."

Cincinnati had an 8-0 lead after four innings and correctly didn't feel comfortable. After all, the last time the Reds blew an eight-run lead and lost a game was less than 24 hours earlier when they saw an 8-0 advantage in the second inning disintegrate into a 14-9 defeat.

Credit Reds starter Mike Leake for doing his part in preventing flashbacks from Friday. Leake helped out a gassed bullpen by tying his season high with eight innings pitched. He allowed one earned run and four hits, including Colby Rasmus' homer in the seventh, while walking two and striking out six.

"Those games suck when you're up so much and you let them slowly creep back," Leake said. "Obviously, it was my job to not let them do that today and be productive."

Winners of seven of their last 10 games, the once listless Reds offense has scored 70 runs in that span. It's a stretch where the lineup has been fully healthy for the first time, but is also having more productive at-bats. They are second in the Majors behind the first-place Brewers in runs scored for June.

"I think that we have a lot of very capable hitters," said Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco, whose three-run homer in the eighth was his career-best third in three games. "And if we go out there and just do what we're capable of, I think that the runs are going to go up."

Eleven two-out runs helped sink the Reds on Friday. Cincinnati used eight of them to their advantage on Saturday. In the first, Toronto starter J.A. Happ walked the bases loaded with two outs before Ryan Ludwick lined a two-run single to center field. A passed ball by catcher Dioner Navarro got Jay Bruce home to make it 3-0.

"[It] kind of got us ahead and got us rolling again offensively," Price said. "And the great thing, of course, is that offensively we continue to tack on runs and that separation makes a huge difference."

With two outs and the bases empty in the third, Bruce hit the first pitch from Happ high into the right-field sun deck for his seventh homer of the season and a four-run lead.

Three straight one-out singles, including Billy Hamilton's RBI hit through the right side, started another Reds rally in the fourth. Following a Todd Frazier sacrifice fly, Joey Votto lifted an RBI double off the left-field wall. Brandon Phillips' RBI double off the wall in left-center field scored Votto and made it 8-0.

"It was a little disappointing after last night to be honest with you, but there's nothing you can do about that now," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.

Leake retired 11 in a row after a Brett Lawrie single off of Leake's leg in the second inning. He didn't pay for a two-out walk and single in the fifth and left runners on the corners. In the seventh, Rasmus hit an 0-2 pitch for a homer to right field and Leake's only blemish of the day.

Following the homer, Leake retired his final six in a row and was finished after 113 pitches. He had given up 14 runs over his previous 15 1/3 innings in three starts and didn't need extra instruction about preserving the bullpen. Only rookie Carlos Contreras was needed, and he retired the side in order during the ninth for his big league debut.

"Dusty [Baker] always used to say: 'Momentum's only as good as tomorrow's starting pitcher,'" Mesoraco said. "And Leakey went out there and gave us exactly what we needed him to do. And we were able to put some runs on the board early and keep at it, which was nice."

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