Reds 4, Diamondbacks 3, 11 innings
CINCINNATI (AP)—Maybe it’s the new manager. Maybe it’s just the law of averages.
Scott Hatteberg’s two-out single, his fourth hit of the game, gave the Reds their first four-game winning streak of the season and left them 5-1 under interim manager Pete Mackanin, who took over for Jerry Narron a week ago.
The change shook things up in the short-term.
“It’s something showing signs of management not afraid to make some changes,” said Hatteberg, who had a solo homer and three singles. “We’ve played poorly. The first thing that goes is usually the manager, but players soon follow. So maybe it’s a collective wake-up.”
The Diamondbacks are dazed heading into the All-Star break.
Arizona has lost five straight—matching its season high—and eight of nine overall. After being tied for first place in the NL West on June 27, the Diamondbacks have slipped to third in large part because they can’t get clutch hits.
They got one in the ninth to prolong the game, but couldn’t get another to win it. Kirk Saarloos (1-4) induced a double play that scuttled an Arizona threat in the top of the 11th and followed a familiar pattern.
“We don’t do anything early, and we come back in the eighth and ninth before losing it late,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve got to find ways to get more competitive at-bats early in the game.”
For the second day in a row, one of the NL’s worst bullpens blew a late lead before the Reds recovered. They pulled off their first sweep of the season and their first over Arizona since 1999.
During Narron’s days, a bullpen meltdown usually meant another chin-dropping loss. It hasn’t been that way so far under the new management.
“More than anything, it’s a blow to everybody when a manager gets fired,” said Mackanin, who was the Reds’ advance scout until last week. “It’s no fun. It’s like a wake-up call to everybody.”
Edwin Encarnacion started the decisive rally by drawing a leadoff walk from Jose Valverde (0-2) in the 11th. Encarnacion stole second, David Ross walked and Norris Hopper grounded into a forceout at second, bringing up Hatteberg.
The first baseman had opened the Reds’ first inning with a homer. He ended it by slapping a single to left field on the first pitch he saw from the Diamondbacks’ All-Star closer. His teammates huddled around him and celebrated after he touched first base.
“Guys have been playing loose and having fun,” starter Aaron Harang said. “Everybody’s been contributing in their own way.”
Harang allowed only one run over the first eight innings—a solo homer by Chris Young—before turning a 3-1 lead over to David Weathers. The closer had converted his last six opportunities and 17 of 19 overall, and has been the only dependable reliever on the staff.
He couldn’t get the last out to close it out.
Jeff Salazar singled with two outs and came around on Miguel Montero’s double to the wall in left-center. Orlando Hudson, who was out of the starting lineup getting some rest before his All-Star trip to San Francisco, pinch-hit and tied it with a single to right.
It was a rare clutch hit for the slumping Diamondbacks, who are batting .144 with runners in scoring position over their last 14 games and last in the league in that category overall
“I know we had a stretch there when we won a lot of those one-run and two-run games, but right now we’re struggling,” catcher Chris Snyder said. “Hopefully we can get through the break, get back on Friday and start the second half strong.”
Hatteberg and Ross had solo homers off right-hander Yusmeiro Petit, who was called up on July 3 when left-hander Randy Johnson went on the disabled list again with a bad back. Petit struck out a career-high eight Reds in five innings, including all three batters in the fourth.
The Reds struck out 16 times overall, matching their season high.
Melvin said Johnson might be able to start playing catch near the end of the week. Johnson is eligible to return from the DL on July 14. … The Reds optioned RHP Homer Bailey to Triple-A Louisville so he can stay on his pitching schedule over the break. He wouldn’t have made a start for more than a week with Cincinnati. … Hatteberg’s homer gave him 500 career RBIs. … It was the second leadoff homer of Hatteberg’s career. He also did it Aug. 28, 2003 against Baltimore.