Reds 5, Diamondbacks 4
CINCINNATI (AP)—The last time things were this good for the Cincinnati Reds, frosty winds and freezing temperatures had fans bundled up in their ballpark.
The major leagues’ worst team has gone 4-1 under interim manager Pete Mackanin, showing a little spark heading into the All-Star break. The Reds have won back-to-back series for the first time since the opening week of the season, when they went 4-2 against the Cubs and Pirates during a nasty cold spell.
With one more win, they would have their first four-game winning streak of the season.
“That’s sad to say, but hopefully we can do it,” said David Weathers, who pitched out of a threat to earn his 17th save in 19 chances. “We’ve dug a pretty big hole. We’ve got to go out and try to win as many series as we can.”
Their bullpen has been the big thing holding them back.
Eric Byrnes’ three-run homer off reliever Todd Coffey tied it in the top of the eighth and reminded the booing crowd of 34,410 why manager Jerry Narron was fired a week earlier. A rally started by the game’s featured player helped pull it out.
Brandon Phillips, whose replica jersey was given away as a fan promotion, bunted for a single off Tony Pena (3-2) with one out. He advanced on Adam Dunn’s flyout and came around when Hopper—in a 7-for-42 slump—singled up the middle.
Phillips didn’t stick around to talk after the game, leaving his new manager to speak for him.
“He can bunt, hit a home run, he’s a good base stealer, he can win a game with his defense,” Mackanin said.
Jon Coutlangus (4-1) took over for Coffey in the eighth and got the win.
For Arizona, it was a familiar finish.
The Diamondbacks have lost seven of eight, including four in a row—one shy of their season high. They couldn’t even win behind Brandon Webb, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner who was named an All-Star replacement earlier in the day.
Again, they squandered a lot of chances. The Diamondbacks were only 2-of-9 with runners in scoring position. In the last 13 games, they’ve hit .147 with runners on second or third.
“Those (wasted chances) are big, especially early in the game,” manager Bob Melvin said. “When you’re not getting a lot of hits, you’ve got to execute in those situations. That’s why we’ve been losing lately.”
Webb gave up four runs in seven innings, including Edwin Encarnacion’s two-run homer, during his roughest outing since May 21.
“Overall, I thought it was an average-at-best outing,” Webb said. “I made the one mistake.”
Reds rookie Homer Bailey looked like he belonged in the big leagues during his five innings, allowing only one run. The 21-year-old pitcher looked like an overmatched rookie in his last two times out, giving up 13 runs, 13 hits and eight walks in only 5 1-3 innings of resounding losses.
After the last pounding, he watched video of his performance and detected a small flaw in his delivery. With the problem fixed, he pitched like a top prospect again.
“I felt very comfortable with it,” Bailey said.
Mackanin decided to pinch-hit for Bailey in the fifth, letting him leave on an upbeat note with a 4-1 lead.
It was followed by more eighth-inning gloom.
Coffey opened the eighth by giving up a pair of singles and Byrnes’ emphatic homer off the batter’s eye. Coffey dropped his head in disgust after giving up his eighth homer in only 35 1-3 innings, then got booed off the field.
Cincinnati’s bullpen is among the NL’s worst, leading the league with 18 losses.
Reds outfielder Josh Hamilton left the game in the third inning with a sprained right wrist. He winced when he reached on his first-inning grounder to shortstop Stephen Drew, who bobbled it for an error. When it came time for Hamilton to bat again in the third, he headed for the trainer’s room instead.
Drew’s error in the first inning ended the Diamondbacks’ four-game streak without an error, their best of the season. … Hamilton’s wrist will be placed in a cast and examined again during the All-Star break. … Reds 3B Ryan Freel was ejected by umpire Chad Fairchild after he was called out at first base in the seventh inning.