CINCINNATI -- Ryan Ludwick and Brandon Phillips hit homers. Jay Bruce gets two more hits. The starting pitcher holds an early lead.
The Cincinnati Reds are getting the knack of winning without Joey Votto.
Ludwick and Phillips each hit a two-run homer Saturday night, powering Cincinnati to a 6-2 victory over the fading Milwaukee Brewers that extended the Reds' surge without their dangerous first baseman.
The NL Central leaders have gone 4-2 since Votto learned he needed surgery for torn knee cartilage, replacing their top hitter through a combined effort.
"One of the reasons I signed here was how deep this lineup is," Ludwick said. "It's a really deep lineup, especially when everybody's hitting. I don't think everybody's hitting yet. When we get everybody hitting one through eight, it's going to be pretty."
It's pretty good as is. The Reds have won 10 of 12 overall, moving a season-high 14 games over .500.
Ludwick homered as part of a four-run first inning off Yovani Gallardo (8-7). Phillips homered in the eighth off Jose Veras, dropping the defending division champion Brewers a season-high 9 1/2 games out.
Milwaukee came to town needing a solid series to stay in contention. Instead, the Brewers have gotten knocked out of it.
"It's kind of the big blow, especially to the situation we're in," Gallardo said. "I think every game coming in here was a must-win. Unfortunately, we've lost the first two."
The Reds, who won the division in 2010, are 6-2 against the Brewers this season.
Bronson Arroyo (5-6) rebounded from his shortest start of the season, allowing two runs and five hits in six innings.
The Reds need an offense that's ranked in the middle of the NL to pick it up while Votto recovers from knee surgery, a process that will take three to four weeks. So far, they've pulled it off.
"Every day, we depend on somebody else," manager Dusty Baker said. "One of these days, we're going to get everybody out there. We've just got to keep it going. Joey's looking pretty good. The crutches are gone and the doctors say he's progressing well."
Bruce singled home a run in the first inning, stole a base and scored on Scott Rolen's sacrifice fly. Ludwick followed with a two-run homer into the upper deck in left field, making it 74 consecutive games at Great American Ball Park with a homer. It's the longest streak since Coors Field had 80 games with a homer in 2002-03, according to STATS LLC.
Phillips' homer gave him seven RBIs in the last three games.
Gallardo was 4-1 in his last seven starts and was coming off one of his best games. He fanned a career-high 14 during a 4-1 win over the Pirates on Sunday. The right-hander struck out only one on Saturday while allowing four runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings.
Arroyo was coming off his worst start of the season. He lasted only three innings in a 5-3 loss to Arizona on Monday, unable to get his fastball moving or his control in order after the All-Star break layoff.
The Brewers were the perfect team for a rebound. Arroyo took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against Milwaukee on June 26 at Great American before settling for no decision in a 4-3 win. He wasn't as dominating this time, but was good enough, giving up a pair of runs and five hits in six innings.
He reminded himself of how well he did against Milwaukee the last time.
"I watched video today," Arroyo said. "You try to forget past games, but I knew I'd had a good outing against somebody, and as I was watching the video, I was thinking, `There aren't many hits.' This ballclub is a comfortable lineup for me. It's comfortable enough that I feel like I can go deep into each game."
Corey Hart singled home a run in the fourth. Milwaukee scored another in the sixth when Aramis Ramirez grounded into a double play.