Phillips singled in the ninth to drive home the game-winning run and lift the Reds to a 3-2 victory over the Washington Nationals on Saturday night.
“What was eluding us early in the year were those big RBI hits,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We got two tonight.”
The Nationals tied the game in the top of the ninth off Reds closer Francisco Cordero, but Jerry Hairston led off the bottom half with his third hit of the game, a single off Joel Hanrahan (5-3). Hairston stole second, but Jay Bruce struck out and Ken Griffey Jr. was intentionally walked.
Luis Ayala came in to face Phillips, who grounded a single through the hole into left field. Hairston beat Willie Harris’s throw home and Cincinnati handed the Nationals their fourth consecutive loss.
“It’s just a different guy every night,” Phillips said after Cincinnati won its third straight against the worst team in the NL. “We believe whoever goes up there is going to come through.”
Harris had been moved from second base to left field in the seventh inning after Elijah Dukes left the game with a strained tendon in his right kneecap. He was injured after slamming backward into the left-field wall while catching a fly ball and was undergoing an MRI. General manager Jim Bowden said Dukes would most likely go on the disabled list, but the team was waiting for the test results.
“It’s very unfortunate,” Washington manager Manny Acta said. “The way our offense is going, he’s going to be missed.”
Cordero (4-1) blew his fourth save of the season, allowing a sacrifice fly by Jesus Flores. The appearance was Cordero’s third in three days.
“We were trying to stay away from ‘Coco,”’ Baker said. “I don’t like to use him three days in a row. He’s usually not as sharp that third day.”
Cincinnati’s Josh Fogg was activated from the disabled list before the game and made his first start since May 31. Fogg, who was sidelined with back problems, allowed one run and six hits in six innings—the longest of his five starts this season.
Fogg started in place of Aaron Harang, whose next start was pushed back until Tuesday against the Cubs at Chicago due to stiffness in a forearm muscle.
“I thought it went well,” Fogg said. “I had a little command trouble early.”
Washington starter Tim Redding also lasted six innings in his ninth consecutive no-decision. Redding gave up a run and eight hits.
Redding, whose last decision was Washington’s 4-0 win over Philadelphia on May 19, tied Shawn Chacon for the season’s longest string of no-decision starts. Chacon opened the season with nine in a row for Houston.
“We lost the ballgame, but all that matters is we lost a teammate,” Redding said. “That’s what I’m concerned about now. We’re playing good baseball, but somehow, we keep ending up on the wrong side of the win column.”
The last pitchers to have 10 consecutive no-decision starts are San Diego’s John D’Aquisto and Philadelphia’s Randy Lerch, both in 1977.
Redding helped himself in the second inning, giving Washington a 1-0 lead with a two-out bloop single to left-center field that drove in Austin Kearns from second base.
The Reds tied the game in the fifth on Phillips’ sacrifice fly to deep right field.
Nationals 2B Christian Guzman led off the third inning with a single, extending his hitting streak to a Nationals’ season-high 13 games. … Cincinnati 3B Edwin Encarnacion’s throwing error on Dukes’ grounder leading off the sixth inning was the Reds’ first error in six games. … Jose Rijo, a fan favorite as a Reds pitcher and now a special assistant in Washington’s front office, threw balls to fans in the stands before the game—even some in upper the deck.