Aaron Doster
July 23, 2016

CINCINNATI (AP) The Reds have finally started winning as trading time approaches.

Jay Bruce hit a three-run homer and barely missed another during one of Cincinnati's final home games before the non-waiver trade deadline, and the Reds beat the fading Arizona Diamondbacks 6-1 on Saturday night for a modest breakthrough.

The last-place Reds have won three consecutive series for the first time, finding success against other struggling teams.

''I think we're starting to see some cohesiveness in the pitching,'' manager Bryan Price said. ''We're just playing better baseball. That's good coming out of the break.''

Bruce's 20th homer off Robbie Ray (5-9) gave him the team lead with 69 RBIs. He also doubled off the top of the wall in left field and thought he might have gotten another homer, but the call of a double was upheld after a video review.

The Reds tried to trade Bruce in the offseason, but the deal fell through. He's Cincinnati's most attractive player for a deal before the Aug. 1 deadline. Cincinnati hits the road after concluding the series on Sunday. Bruce wasn't made available to talk to reporters after the game.

The Diamondbacks have lost 17 of 21, falling from third place into the basement of the NL West.

Michael Lorenzen (1-0) took over in the fourth inning for Keyvius Sampson, who made his first start of the season after seven relief appearances. A starter last year, Sampson hadn't gone more than four innings this season. He gave up four hits in 4 1/3 innings, throwing 88 pitches.

''I wanted to go on, but I got tired,'' Sampson said. ''I hit a wall.''

Arizona's Chris Owings was activated off the disabled list and singled home a run in the first inning. Owings had been sidelined by plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

The Reds got three unearned runs in the first, two of them on third baseman Jake Lamb's throwing error. Brandon Phillips doubled home a run to complete the inning, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. The Diamondbacks had a chance to get out of the inning when they got Billy Hamilton involved in a rundown, but they botched the play and allowed him to return safely to third.

''In the first inning, those three runs were on our defense,'' Arizona manager Chip Hale said. ''We had him in a rundown. Those are plays that have got to be made at this level.''

The Diamondbacks were still fuming over leadoff hitter Jean Segura getting hit in the lower back by Dan Straily on Friday night. The plunking came on the first pitch of his next at-bat after a solo homer. Hale thought Straily hit him on purpose, and warned that ''there's going to be some retribution at some point.''

There were no issues on Saturday. Ray's first pitch to Joey Votto in the first inning was an 82 mph breaking ball that sailed over his head for a wild pitch. Nobody from either team got hit.

SLOW START

The first inning lasted 38 minutes and featured 61 combined pitches.

STATS

Ray fanned a career-high 10 batters in five innings. He's the second pitcher in team history to strike out at least 10 in five innings, joining Max Scherzer (Sept. 7, 2008 against the Dodgers). ... The Reds will try for their first three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks in Cincinnati since 2007. ... Joey Votto has hit safely in all eight games since the All-Star break.

YOU SHOULD BE DANCING

John Travolta and Kelly Preston watched the game from a suite. Travolta was shown on the videoboard while ''Night Fever'' played in the middle of the eighth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Diamondbacks: Placed INF Nick Ahmed on the 15-day DL with a sore right hip. He started at shortstop on Friday and went 0 for 2 with a walk during Cincinnati's 6-2 win. Hale said his hip has been bothering him and was especially sore during the game Friday.

UP NEXT

Diamondbacks: RHP Zack Godley (2-1) gave up four runs in five innings of a 5-1 loss to the Blue Jays on July 19. He'll make his first career start against the Reds.

Reds: LHP Brandon Finnegan (5-7) got the win by going five innings in an 8-2 win over Atlanta on Monday. He hasn't gone more than five innings in any of his last three starts.

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Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay

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