Phillips drives in 3, Reds beat Pirates 6-0
CINCINNATI (AP)—The Reds’ last man standing led them to one final win.
Brandon Phillips(notes)—the lone Cincinnati regular who avoided the disabled list in 2009—drove in three runs Sunday, and Homer Bailey(notes) shut out Pittsburgh for six innings, setting up a 6-0 victory as the NL Central’s two forlorn franchises ended the season together.
The Pirates finished their 17th straight losing season, while the Reds completed their ninth in a row.
Phillips was the Reds’ only regular starting player who wasn’t caught up in the run of nonstop injuries. He had an RBI double in the first off Jeff Karstens(notes) (4-6), a run-scoring groundout and another RBI double.
Phillips finished with 98 RBIs. He had a chance to get those last two to reach 100, but grounded into a double play with the bases loaded in the sixth.
“It was a great journey trying to get to 100. I just fell short,” Phillips said. “You learn from your mistakes. I had plenty of chances early in the season. I’m happy with the year I had. I’m very satisfied.”
Bailey (8-5) finished his breakout season by improving to 4-0 career against the Pirates. The 23-year-old pitcher went 6-1 with a 1.70 ERA down the stretch, making him a top candidate for next year’s rotation.
“The way we’ve been playing the last month and a half made it a lot easier for me to go out there,” Bailey said. “I think everybody here has a lot of confidence and a lot of potential, but ‘potential’ means you haven’t done anything.”
The Pirates’ 17 consecutive losing seasons are a record for a major professional team in North America. They underwent another near-total makeover at midseason and wound up losing 99 games with a cast of young players that collapsed down the stretch.
After Pittsburgh moved out of the basement on Aug. 22—a game ahead of Cincinnati—the Pirates went 11-29 the rest of the way, clinching last place.
They found an appropriate way to finish it—their 17th shutout loss, the most in the majors.
“It was kind of the season wrapped up into a game,” manager John Russell said, referring to the 13 stranded runners. “It will be a big emphasis next year—getting RBIs when they’re out there.”
The Reds extended their deepest slump in more than a half-century, done in by the never-ending injuries that set up a July meltdown. Four-fifths of the starting rotation and seven of the eight opening-day regulars spent time on the disabled list.
Cincinnati finished on an upswing, winning 27 of its last 40 games to finish 78-84, four games better than last season. Pitching coach Dick Pole was fired on Friday, but manager Dusty Baker has one season remaining on his three-year deal.
The years of losing and the economic downturn took a toll on attendance at Great American Ball Park. The Reds sold 1,747,919 tickets this season, their smallest gate since 1986.
NOTES: The Pirates led the majors with only 73 errors, fewest in franchise history. The previous club mark was 83 in 2007. … Pittsburgh matched its franchise records by using 49 players, including 26 pitchers, to get through another season of in-flux lineups. … FOX Sports Ohio broadcaster George Grande, who did the Reds’ television play-by-play for the last 17 years, opted out of the final year of his contract to spend more time at home. In the middle of the sixth inning, the fans gave an extended standing ovation for Grande and Hal McCoy, the Dayton Daily News baseball writer retiring after his 37th season. … Phillips’ 98 RBIs were the second-most by a second baseman in Reds history. Joe Morgan drove in 110 in 1976, when the Big Red Machine won its second straight World Series title.