ARI@CIN: Phillips homers to extend lead in the first

ARLINGTON -- After missing both games of the series at Oakland while on the paternity list, Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips rejoined the team on Friday and started against the Rangers.

To make room for Phillips, infielder Henry Rodriguez was optioned to Triple-A Louisville. Rodriguez, who was called up to replace Phillips, did not appear in either game vs. the A's.

"That's a big part of our offense," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Phillips. "The guy is second in the league in RBIs and the first on our team. We missed him even though it was only two days. You never know what could have happened in those two days. I'm just glad to have him back."

For first time, Mesoraco behind plate for Cueto

CIN@ARI: Mesoraco smacks an RBI single up the middle

ARLINGTON -- For the first time ever in the regular season, catcher Devin Mesoraco worked with Reds ace Johnny Cueto on Friday night.

That's because Cueto's regular batterymate, Ryan Hanigan, has been dealing with a sore left ankle. Hanigan said he turned his ankle about a week and a half ago while behind the plate.

"It's pretty inflamed and I'm trying to manage it," Hanigan said. "They're giving me a couple of days to get it right. I will be all right. I just have to grind through it."

Hanigan, who did not catch on Wednesday at Oakland, is expected to miss the series in Texas. Reds manager Dusty Baker didn't believe Hanigan, who is hitless in his last 12 at-bats, would need to go on the disabled list.

"It doesn't look like it, but you never know if it doesn't heal," Baker said. "This will be five days. You don't have to double switch or anything. There's a good chance Meso will play all of these games. I just hope nothing happens to Meso."

Mesoraco, who primarily catches for Mat Latos and Mike Leake, didn't expect any problems being paired with Cueto.

"I think the one thing that's been stressed to me is to just watch the game when I'm on the bench and to learn as much as I can," Mesoraco said. "I've probably watched 50 or so of Johnny's starts the last two years. I know how he wants to pitch. I still talk to him just the same, as if I was catching, after the game. How did he pitch this guy? How did he feel out there? I saw you throw a lot of sliders. We still talk and have a good relationship, but this will be our first actual time working together."

Prior's comeback bid with Reds ends with release

ARLINGTON -- After he was activated from Triple-A Louisville's disabled list, the Reds released pitcher Mark Prior to end the latest chapter in his long comeback story.

Prior, who signed a Minor League contract with the Reds during Spring Training, had a 4.66 ERA in seven games at Louisville. He had been on the DL since April 25 with a right shoulder strain.

During camp, Prior contacted his old manager with the Cubs, Reds skipper Dusty Baker, to ask for a chance. Prior called Baker once again on Thursday.

"We talked about it and he said the organization treated him excellent," Baker said. "He [said he] could not be treated better. He will go home and rest and maybe try it again if his arm comes back."

It's been a comeback attempt fraught with setbacks for Prior, who has not pitched in the Majors since 2006. The former Cubs star had reconstructive shoulder surgery in '07. He has spent parts of the previous three seasons pitching for the Rangers', Yankees' and Red Sox's organizations, and also an independent league.

Worth noting

• Friday marked the first time the Reds played the Rangers since 2007 at Great American Ball Park. It was their first game at the Ballpark in Arlington since 2002.