Squeezing out a win
Published 4:33 am Thursday, August 19, 2010
PHOENIX — Dusty Baker rarely uses the squeeze bunt, let alone trying it with a 40-year-old on third base with one out in the ninth inning.
But Jim Edmonds showed some hustle scoring from third base on pinch-hitter Chris Heisey’s perfectly executed bunt that scored the go-ahead run as the Cincinnati Reds rallied from a four-run deficit to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 11-7 on Wednesday night.
Heisey dropped his bunt down the third base line and beat the throw to first base. He eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Paul Janish, and the Reds, trailing 7-3 in the top of the eighth, struck for eight runs in the eighth and ninth in front of the smallest crowd in Diamondbacks history.
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The Diamondbacks’ bullpen was the team’s undoing once again in a wild back-and-forth game that also featured some shoddy defense. Reliever Sam Demel gave up four runs in the top of the eighth on four straight hits. On came Aaron Heilman (3-4), who allowed an RBI double in the eighth before serving up what would be the winning run in the ninth, and three more after that.
“Every ball they hit was down the middle of the plate,” Heilman said.
The Reds got help from an overthrow to home plate by Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton in the eighth. That allowed a run to score and kept the inning alive for Brandon Phillips to tie the game at 7 with a double, and set the stage for the Reds’ 35th come-from-behind win of the season.
“The more you do things, and the more you do them right, and the more you believe it, that’s what it’s all about,” Baker said.
“Gutsy call by Dusty,” said Laynce Nix, whose two-run double in the ninth capped the comeback. “That was exciting and a lot of fun.”
Two-run homers from Chris Young and Adam LaRoche gave the Diamondbacks its biggest lead. Only 15,509 were on hand at Chase Field to see them rally from a 3-1 deficit with four runs in the fifth off starter Edinson Volquez. The right-hander was making his seventh start since returning from Tommy John surgery July 17 and struggled with his control early.
Volquez’s problems led to the Diamondbacks’ first run, but his defense was mostly to blame for Arizona’s big inning. An error by left fielder Jonny Gomes allowed pinch-hitter Ryan Church to take second on a single with one out, then Gomes and center fielder Drew Stubbs failed to hit the cutoff man on singles by Stephen Drew and Upton, allowing both to take an extra base. Upton’s hit drove in Church and Drew to tie the game.
After getting Kelly Johnson to fly out, Volquez lost the battle with Young, who was hitting cleanup for only the second time this season. Volquez was removed after 4 2-3 innings.
The Reds took a three-game lead in the NL Central over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Cincinnati got solo home runs from Edmonds and Jay Bruce, and Phillips took over the NL lead in runs scored with 84.
“I could be critical of myself the way I handled the bullpen,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “Let’s not put it all on those guys.”
Edmonds, acquired in a trade with Milwaukee on Aug. 9, got the start at first base in place of All-Star Joey Votto, who was scratched due to tightness in his back but could return to the lineup Thursday.
Arthur Rhodes (4-3) pitched a scoreless eighth to earn the win.
The record-low crowd came only two weeks after the previous franchise low, when 15,670 watched the last-place Diamondbacks play Washington on Aug. 4.
Notes: Baker confirmed after the game that the Reds have offered him a contract extension, adding that “It will take care of itself.” Baker is in the last year of a three-year contract he signed after the 2007 season, and after two losing seasons, has the Reds in position for the postseason.