CINCINNATI — Mike Kickham isn’t sure why his pitches seem to wander when he gets past the first inning.
Todd Frazier homered off the rookie starter and drove in four runs Monday night, leading the Cincinnati Reds out of their offensive slump to an 8-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants in a game shortened to six innings because of rain.
Frazier had an RBI single and a three-run homer off Kickham (0-3), who has been hit hard in each of his three major league starts.
“It seems the first inning has gone really well for me for whatever reason,” the left-hander said. “In the second and third innings, I’m just kind of struggling.”
He struck out two of the first three batters he faced on Monday, then fell apart again.
“When he’s getting into the stretch, it seems he has a tough time getting the ball where he wants and getting it down,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s got great stuff. This is all a growing process you have with a young pitcher like that.”
Derrick Robinson singled home a pair of runs, and Zack Cozart added a sacrifice fly and a run-scoring double as the Reds piled up their most runs since a 12-2 win at Wrigley Field on June 11.
Bronson Arroyo (7-6) gave up a pair of hits in six innings, including Brandon Belt’s homer.
Rain halted the game after the sixth. The umpires waited 1 hour, 28 minutes before calling it. By then, water was cascading down the dugout steps and flooding the tunnels as well as the field.
“You want to play but with what we’re looking at — it’s coming down harder, it’s flooding in there — at some point we’ve got to draw the line,” Bochy said. “You want to play the game, but it’s pretty bad out there. The field’s in bad shape.”
It was the first game shortened by rain at Great American Ball Park since Cincinnati’s 4-2 win over the Cubs in five innings on Sept. 22, 2006. The Reds had a game suspended overnight because of rain earlier this season.
The Giants returned to the place where they pulled off one of baseball’s biggest playoff comebacks. After falling behind Cincinnati 0-2 in their NL division series last season, they won three straight at Great American to advance and eventually win the World Series.
Bochy got a good feeling as he walked into the ballpark on Monday, remembering those moments. His club hasn’t had many good ones lately, going 10-17 in June, its worst month since July 2008. That included a six-game losing streak that was San Francisco’s longest in three years.
July hasn’t started any better for the defending champions, who have lost nine of their last 11 games. They’ve scored two runs or less in eight of those 11.
The Reds, too, were struggling to score runs and win games. They went 2-6 on a trip out West, getting shut out twice while falling 5½ games out in the NL Central, their biggest deficit in two years.
No such problems against a struggling rookie starter.
The Reds scored four times in the second inning off Kickham, more runs than they managed in four of their last five games. The 24-year-old pitcher has gotten a rough introduction to the majors, making his first three starts on the road and losing all of them. He’s given up 21 hits and 16 earned runs in 10 1-3 innings.
Jake Dunning had just started warming in the Giants’ bullpen when Frazier hit a three-run homer in the third on Kickham’s 56th pitch. It was the fourth homer Kickham has given up in his three starts.
That marked the first time the Reds had scored more than five runs at Great American since an 8-2 win over Cleveland on May 28.
Belt’s homer was his ninth, tying his career high from his rookie season of 2011.
“It tells me I’m getting better,” Belt said. “That’s the main thing. You want to make progress each year. I’ve been getting better from last year to this year, and from the start of this year until now.”
NOTES: Kickham doubled in the second inning for his first major league hit. ... Giants RHP Ryan Vogelsong played catch before the game. He broke bones in his hand on a swing May 20 and needed surgery. He’s still several weeks away from returning. ... Buster Posey was back behind the plate after playing two games at 1B to rest his tight legs. He left with rain falling in the sixth. ... Arroyo was coming off his worst start, a season-high seven runs in a season-low four innings of a 7-3 loss in Oakland.
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