CINCINNATI -- At some point before 26-year-old rookie catcher Eddy Rodriguez makes his Major League debut on Thursday against the Reds, he'll almost certainly confer with Padres catcher John Baker for some advice on how to go after Cincinnati's hitters.
When Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick's name comes up in the conversation, Baker might be perplexed. That's certainly been the case during this series, as Ludwick has essentially bludgeoned his former team, no more so than Wednesday night at the Great American Ball Park.
Ludwick had three hits, including a home run, and drove in four runs as the Reds topped the Padres, 6-4, before a crowd of 20,527. Ludwick, who spent parts of 2010 and 2011 with the Padres, has six hits in the first three games of the series with two home runs and 10 RBIs.
So what will Baker share with Rodriguez about Ludwick?
"It doesn't matter what we threw at him, he hit everything," Baker said. "Every mistake we made, he took advantage of it. When a guy is swinging the bat good like he is, balls are going to fall for you."
Ludwick had a two-run home run in the first inning off Padres pitcher Kip Wells (2-4), who allowed five earned runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings. He walked four and struck out two, also yielding a home run to leadoff hitter Zach Cozart in the first inning.
"I wasn't as consistent delivery-wise," Wells said.
It might not have mattered with the way the Reds are playing. They are a season-high 22 games over .500 and have won 19 of their last 22 games. They've also gone 13-3 without Joey Votto, though it's been Ludwick who has picked up a lot of the slack in the interim.
Since Votto went on the disabled list, Ludwick is hitting .388 with six home runs and 20 RBIs in his last 49 at-bats.
And that Ludwick has had a big week against the Padres, his former team? Nothing personal, he said.
"Those guys are great over there. That coaching staff over there is first class. I really, really enjoyed my time over there," Ludwick said. "The ballpark [Petco Park] was another story. It's part of the business, I guess. You've got to go out there and fight for your team. They're the opposition now and we need to win ballgames."
The Padres (44-62) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run home run by Chase Headley. For Headley, the home run was his 13th of the season, a career high.
The Reds struck for three runs in the bottom of the inning, with Ludwick and Cozart getting to Wells for homers.
Will Venable and Headley each had run-scoring singles in the fourth inning as San Diego took a 4-3 lead. But that lead was short-lived, as the Reds scored twice in the fifth inning.
Ludwick put the Reds on top for good with an RBI single. He later added an RBI single in the seventh inning.
The Padres had their chances early, as they stranded two runners on base in the second, third and the fourth innings. A hit here and there and the outcome might have been different.
A lot of that had to do with Reds starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo (7-6), who, despite allowing the runs in the first inning, got stingy thereafter, especially with runners on base.
"We got some runs off him, but he's a good pitcher when there are guys in scoring position," Baker said. "As soon as guys get to second base, he bears down."
Arroyo allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings. He walked two and struck out one.
The Padres ran through four relievers after Wells left the game and manager Bud Black admitted that his bullpen is a little gassed from frequent outings. It didn't help that reliever Brad Brach was down because of the flu that's working its way through the clubhouse.
"We've got to watch it, we've been taxed," Black said. "They're getting used [a lot]."