Ryan Ludwick struggled in San Diego and Kip Wells failed to make Cincinnati's staff out of spring training in 2010. Ludwick got the better of a pair of veterans trying to salvage their careers.
Ludwick homered and drove in four runs for the second consecutive game, and the Reds kept rolling along with a 6-4 win over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night.
Wells (2-4), who spent 10 games with the Reds in 2009 — his last major league appearances before this season — allowed five runs and five hits with four walks in 4 1-3 innings.
The former Pirate has now lost 12 games against Cincinnati, the most losses accumulated against any opponent, including two this season. He allowed the Reds three runs in six innings at Petco Park on July 6.
It took just an inning to match that total Wednesday.
"You can tell whether the ball is hit when it got squared enough," Wells said. "The ball Ludwick hit well enough as well. Ludwick hit a mistake but he's in a groove right now and he's hot. If there's anybody you don't want to beat you right now it's him. If you put them in a hitter's count or make a bad pitch, they are going to hit it more often than not."
Ludwick drove in the go-ahead run twice to lead the Reds (63-41) to their 19th victory in 22 games. Despite playing without Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, they moved 22 games over .500 for the first time since Sept. 5, 2010.
Ludwick couldn't get going with the Padres but has thrived in his new home.
"With Joey out, it's been different people at different times," said Ludwick, who's hitting .388 (19 for 49) with six home runs and 20 runs batted in since the All-Star first baseman left the lineup on July 16. "Phillips, myself, Zack Cozart, the pitching — everybody's pitching in. Now, with Phillips out, it's even more important for everybody to pitch in."
Bud Black, who managed Ludwick last season, noted that it isn't just the Padres that Ludwick has hit hard.
"Ludwick has been hot over the last three weeks, not just this series," Black said. "He's really done well. When a hitter's in a groove like that, he's going to get his hits."
Zack Cozart also homered and Bronson Arroyo pitched six innings to earn his third straight win and fourth in five starts. Arroyo (7-6) allowed seven hits and four runs with two walks and one strikeout.
Chase Headley homered for the Padres, who have lost three of four. They couldn't capitalize on the absence of Votto and Phillips, who form the right side of Cincinnati's regular infield.
Votto is on the disabled list following knee surgery, and Phillips sat out with a strained left calf.
San Diego led 4-3 when Drew Stubbs singled with one out in the fifth off Wells. Jay Bruce drove in Stubbs with a double down the right-field line. Dale Thayer got Scott Rolen to fly out before Ludwick lined a go-ahead single to right.
"I made some better pitches in the fifth," Wells said. "Sometimes you have to have things go your way."
Arroyo walked Alexi Amarista on four pitches leading off the game. After Will Venable flied out, Headley hit a 1-0 pitch an estimated 406 feet into the right-field seats for his career-high 13th homer. His previous best was 12 in 2009.
Cozart opened Cincinnati's 6-0 win July 6 in San Diego with a home run off Wells.
"It isn't just the ballpark," Wells said.
San Diego took a 4-3 lead with a two-run fourth, stringing together consecutive two-out singles by Wells, Amarista, Venable and Headley.
NOTES: Phillips' replacement, Wilson Valdez, left after four innings with a stiff neck. ... The Reds placed suspended C Devin Mesoraco on the seven-day concussion disabled list. They also optioned RHP Todd Redmond to Triple-A Louisville and called up C Dioner Navarro from their top farm club. Mesoraco was injured Monday before being ejected for arguing balls and strikes with plate umpire Chad Fairchild. Mesoraco was suspended for three games and fined by Major League Baseball on Wednesday for poking a finger at Fairchild's chest protector and bumping him. Mesoraco is appealing the suspension.