Cabrera led off the 10th inning with a homer that hit the yellow screen just inside the left-field pole, giving the Cincinnati Reds a 5-4 win over the New York Mets on Wednesday and providing an appropriate finish to a series full of all-or-nothing swings.
“When I hit it, I never thought it would hit the pole,” Cabrera said. “I was thinking, ‘Clearly, that’s fair.’ It was close.”
Cabrera’s fifth game-ending homer came off Pedro Feliciano(notes) (1-1) and gave the Reds their second last-swing victory in a wild series. The teams combined for 11 homers in the three games—all solo shots.
Cincinnati showed it’s much more adept at dramatic endings. Nine of the Reds’ 14 wins have come in their final at-bat. Cincinnati is 4-0 in extra innings.
“This was some series,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We’re not doing it easy, but the main thing is we’re doing it.”
Micah Owings(notes) (3-0) pitched one perfect inning after Francisco Cordero(notes) blew a one-run lead in the ninth, tying it at 4. Cordero gave up a pair of hits and Jeff Francoeur’s(notes) sacrifice fly, his second blown save in 11 chances.
No surprise that the Mets came up just short again. New York is 1-4 in extra innings and 3-6 in one-run games.
“Most of the games have been close,” Feliciano said.
All three in the series were decided in the ninth inning or later. Cincinnati’s Laynce Nix(notes) ended the opener with a pinch-hit homer in the 11th, and New York’s Rod Barajas(notes) decided the middle game with a ninth-inning drive.
On a warm, windy afternoon, they went at it again.
The Mets were last in the league with a .234 team batting average. The Reds were fourth-worst at .237. Their best chance was to get one up in the breeze.
Both teams failed to get much out of bases-loaded opportunities early. Johnny Cueto(notes) walked Angel Pagan(notes) with the bases loaded to force in a run in the third, but Jose Reyes hit a weak flyout and Jason Bay(notes) hit a routine fly to end it. Bay also stranded runners in scoring position with strikeouts in the fifth and seventh.
Bay got a $66 million, four-year deal in December, but has struggled mightily as the cleanup hitter with just one homer and nine RBIs.
“I’m sure he’s been through something like this before,” manager Jerry Manuel said. “The problem is, I’ve never seen it firsthand. We’re very confident he’ll come out of it.”
Cincinnati also wasted an opportunity for a big inning, this time in the fourth. Cabrera singled with the bases loaded to drive in one run off Jonathon Niese(notes), but Ramon Hernandez(notes) was easily out at the plate trying to score from second on the play.
Phillips, who was chastised by Baker for failing to run hard on his double the previous night, snapped a 2-all tie with his fourth homer, which barely cleared the wall in right field. Phillips raised his right arm in celebration and rounded the bases quickly.
NOTES: There was a moment of silence before the game for longtime Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who died on Tuesday. … Gary Matthews Jr.(notes) singled in his first at-bat, ending an 0-for-15 slide. Since April 7, he’s 4 for 39 with 16 strikeouts. … Mets RH Mike Pelfrey(notes) threw in the bullpen without a problem and will start Friday against the Giants as planned. Pelfrey had tightness in his shoulder the last time out. “Felt fine,” he said. … Baker thought Phillips could have had a triple instead of settling for a double on his drive off the wall Tuesday night in NY’s 5-4 win. Phillips has a history of easing up at times. Baker compared it to an A-caliber student settling for a B. “We talk to Brandon quite often,” Baker said. “I guess he’s better than he used to be. We’re still trying to get him to the point he’s a big difference-maker every day because he’s certainly got that skill and ability.”