CINCINNATI — Give Roy Halladay a four-run lead and then sit back and watch the Doc do the rest.
Erik Kratz hit a three-run home run, Chase Utley added a two-run shot, and the Phillies’ ace right-hander held off the Reds in Philadelphia’s 6-2 win over Cincinnati on Wednesday.
Halladay, 4-1 in his last six starts, is 110-0 when he is staked to a lead of at least four runs. Halladay (9-7) scattered eight hits over 7.1 innings, allowing one run with five strikeouts and one walk. Philadelphia won two of three in the series against the National League Central leaders.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner isn’t as sharp as he would like to be these days, but he is getting better.
“Roy did fine,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “As his arm gets stronger, he’ll get more velocity. He has good movement. He made pitches when he had to.”
Halladay felt much better considering his last start was his shortest outing since his July 17 return from the disabled list.
“It was good. There were a couple pitches here and there that were problems because of location as much as anything,” Halladay said. “They (the Reds) had some good at-bats.”
All-Star first baseman Joey Votto returned to the Reds lineup for the first time since July 15 and lined the third pitch he saw in 52 days to left field for a single with two outs in the first inning.
“I thought Joey Votto would be more rusty,” Halladay said.
The Reds went 32-16 while Votto was out due to two operations related to a torn meniscus in his left knee. Votto finished 2-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout for Cincinnati, which lost a series for just the third time in 16 matchups since the All-Star break (11-3-2).
“It went better than expected,” Votto said. “Unfortunately, it came in a loss.”
Reds manager Dusty Baker had his eye on the 2010 National League MVP.
“Joey was fine. I think the rehab really helped,” Baker said. “I was going to take him out, but he said he was fine.”
Jay Bruce homered for the fourth consecutive game, but it wasn’t enough to rally the Reds in the ninth inning.
For the second time in less than three weeks, Reds starter Mike Leake was roughed up by the Phillies. After giving up a career-high seven runs in 4.1 innings in Cincinnati’s 12-5 loss at Philadelphia on Aug. 20, Leake (7-9) was touched for six more in just 2.1 innings on Wednesday. He gave up six hits with a walk and a strikeout.
“They have a lot of good hitters that I haven’t figured out yet,” Leake said. “They have a good plan and make it work.”
The Phillies opened the second inning with consecutive singles by Ryan Howard, John Mayberry Jr., and Domonic Brown before Kratz hit a 2-2 pitch into the left-field seats for a three-run homer, his ninth shot of the season.
Kratz has nine home runs and 24 RBI in 108 at-bats, including a .471 average (8-for-17) against Cincinnati.
“Kratz got us on the board,” Manuel said. “We talk about run production. He keeps hitting home runs. He might be Babe Ruth.”
Leake was knocked out of the game in the third inning after he issued a leadoff walk to Juan Pierre and gave up Utley’s 10th homer of the season, a 414-foot drive to center field on the first pitch.
“Chase finally got one out to center,” Manuel said. “His power is still there. He’s been hitting into tough luck. It seems like every time he hits the ball hard someone catches it.”
Baker pulled Leake from the game after Howard flew out to the warning track in left field, and Mayberry lined a double off the top of the left field wall.
“He was getting the ball up,” Baker said. “The three-run home run was a slider that didn’t slide.”
Bruce drove in both Reds runs. He doubled with two outs in the fourth to drive in Chris Heisey, and led off the ninth against Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon with an opposite-field shot for his 32nd homer of the season.
Notes: Brown snapped a 0-for-19 slump with his second-inning RBI single. ... The Phillies finished 4-3 against the Reds this season. Philadelphia has won nine consecutive season series against the Reds since Cincinnati went 5-4 in 2003. ... Reds SS Zack Cozart missed his second consecutive start because of a sore back, Baker said. Didi Gregorius made his major league debut by starting in Cozart’s place. ... Cincinnati and Philadelphia have today off. The Phillies will face Colorado on Friday in the first game of a six-game homestand. The Reds will open a three-game home series against Houston.