The switch-hitting catcher, who went into Tuesday’s game hitting only .143 as a right-hander, had an RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Cincinnati Reds a 2-1 victory over the Brewers.
Adam Dunn singled with one out off left-hander Jorge De La Rosa (2-2) and moved to third on Sean Casey’s sharp single to right that just got under the glove of second baseman Richie Weeks. Reds interim manager Jerry Narron elected to stick with Valentin, who followed with a line drive over drawn-in center fielder Brady Clark on the first pitch.
“I’m starting to feel comfortable after getting four at-bats Sunday,” Valentin said. “My swing is starting to feel better. My manager told me to look for one pitch to drive out of the infield, and he made one.
“The only thing I was trying to do was put the ball in play. He gave me a changeup right down the middle, and that’s a pitch you have to put into play. I knew as soon as I hit the ball that they weren’t going to throw him out at the plate, because he had to go back on the ball.”
Narron said, “Javy’s been coming up big for us all year. I was just happy to see him get the opportunity to swing the bat.”
The Reds have won two of their last three games, both in extra innings, after a five-game losing streak. They improved to 4-1 in extra-inning games this season and staved off elimination from the Central Division race after going into the game. They are 23 1/2 games behind first-place St. Louis with 24 to play.
Milwaukee went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position, with just one of the hits driving in a run, to fall to 3-7 in extra-inning games. The Brewers missed an opportunity for their 32nd road win of the season, which would be one more than they won last season, and their 69th win overall, which would be the most of Ned Yost’s three seasons as manager.
“We just didn’t execute offensively,” Yost said. “We had a lot of opportunities. We just didn’t get the big hit to tack on extra runs. If we’re going to get over the hump, we have to get better at that. It’s an attitude that we will get the run in.”
Rick Helling’s start was his third since joining Milwaukee’s rotation on Aug. 27, but he still hasn’t earned a decision as a starter since going 7-8 in 24 starts for Baltimore in 2003. He left the game for a pinch hitter in the sixth with a 1-0 lead after allowing four hits and a walk with four strikeouts in five innings.
Reds starter Aaron Harang gave up one run and eight hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings.
Geoff Jenkins, who tied his career high with five hits on Monday, gave the Brewers a 1-0 lead in the fourth on Tuesday. After Lyle Overbay’s leadoff walk and Carlos Lee’s single, Jenkins hit a line drive that one-hopped the right field wall for a run-scoring double.
The Reds tied it in the seventh. Jacob Cruz drew a one-out walk from Justin Lehr and Ray Olmedo was sent in as a pinch runner. After Ryan Freel flied out, Olmedo moved to third on Rich Aurilia’s sharp single through the hole into left. Matt Wise relieved Lehr and gave up a game-tying single to Felipe Lopez that glanced off the glove of diving shortstop Bill Hall and rolled into left field.
Freel’s start was his first since Aug. 15, the day before he went on the disabled list with torn cartilage in his right knee and a sore right quadriceps. He had arthroscopic surgery on his knee Aug. 18 and was activated Monday. … Freel’s third-inning stolen base was his 30th of the season, making him the first Reds player with consecutive 30-steal seasons since Barry Larkin stole 51 in 1995 and 36 in 1996. … Lee extended his hitting streak to nine games, one short of matching his season-high. … The attendance of 13,351 was the lowest of the season for the Reds at home. The figure did not include 315 members of the military and their immediate families, who were admitted free.