WASHINGTON (AP)—When Pete Orr is asked to pinch hit with the bases loaded and the game tied in the seventh inning, it can only mean one thing: The manager has run out of options.
Orr’s four years in the majors can best be described as RBI-challenged, but he came through for manager Manny Acta on Saturday night. He drove in his first runs in more than 15 months, slapping a two-run single into left field that put the Washington Nationals ahead to stay in a 10-6 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
“If you don’t think you can do it, you shouldn’t be here, that’s for sure,” said Orr, who increased his RBI output to a grand total of 20 in 399 career at-bats over four big league seasons. “You have to believe in yourself, first of all. It was a fun situation to be in, and I’m happy I got the opportunity.”
Orr’s single capped a four-run inning and gave the Nationals something they haven’t had since June—a two-game winning streak at home. Washington had dropped nine straight overall before beating the Reds on Friday; now they’ll be going for the series sweep on Sunday.
Orr hadn’t knocked in a run since a pinch-hit, two-run single with two outs in the ninth inning of the Atlanta Braves’ 11-6 win at the Florida Marlins on April 24, 2007. He entered Saturday’s game with seven hits in 29 at-bats for the Nationals this season, but he was the only choice after Acta looked down his bench with the game on the line and saw two injured players who aren’t able to bat—Cristian Guzman and Ryan Zimmerman—and catcher Wil Nieves.
“We were short,” Acta said. “It was him and Nieves, and Nieves is the last catcher, so we didn’t want to take a chance.”
So, for one night at least, Orr was a key performer in a cast of no-name overachievers for the Nationals, who fell behind 5-2 in the second inning and rallied while the Reds unraveled. Cincinnati committed three errors, and the Reds bullpen allowed seven runs over 2 2-3 innings.
For the second straight night, Washington’s new build-for-the-future double-play combination—youngsters Emilio Bonifacio and Alberto Gonzalez— provided a spark. The speedy Bonifacio had a swinging-bunt double over the third baseman’s head, his first career triple and also reached on an error. Gonzalez went 3-for-5 with a double and scored two runs.
“These two guys have brought a big-time level of energy,” Acta said. “Right now just by having a lot of guys like that, you just expect that type of energy, and why not? These guys are the youngest team in the big leagues right now, and we shouldn’t be lacking any type of energy.”
Ronnie Belliard added a pinch-hit, two-run homer, giving the Nationals four RBIs off pinch-hits. Lastings Milledge also went deep, and Austin Kearns went 3-for-5. Charlie Manning (1-2) got his first career win by pitching a scoreless seventh inning.
Mike Lincoln (1-3), who entered with a 19-inning scoreless streak, allowed four runs in the seventh while retiring only one batter to get the loss. The Reds have dropped seven of eight.
“Every day, we’re making errors,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Today, we made them at the wrong time. That was a terrible game—an ugly game. … The bullpen’s been awesome. It was their turn tonight. It was very disheartening to see that.”’
2B Brandon Phillips, who booted a groundball for one of Cincinnati’s three errors, called the Nationals Park infield “the worst in the National League.” … Reds OF Jay Bruce homered for the second straight game. … LF Elijah Dukes was scratched from the Nationals lineup after arriving late for pregame. He entered in the sixth inning and hit himself in the leg with the bat while grounding out in the eighth. The leg cramped up and he had to leave the game. … Reds C Paul Bako executed a squeeze bunt in the sixth inning. … One day after coming off the 15-day disabled list Friday with a strained right hamstring, Reds OF Jerry Hairston Jr. said the hamstring was sore again and had to sit out. He is expected to miss Sunday’s game, too. … Cincinnati RHP Aaron Harang, on the 15-day DL with a strained right forearm, will make a rehab start on Monday for Triple-A Louisville. … Nationals starter Jason Bergmann allowed five earned runs, the most he has allowed since June 6.