“It’s always good when you can get a hit to win the game,” the 15-year veteran said.
Renteria’s 11th-inning single in 1997 lifted the Florida Marlins over Cleveland for the championship. He also was the World Series MVP last year after hitting a late three-run homer in the clinching victory for San Francisco over Texas.
Marlins starter Josh Johnson(notes) left after seven innings, and reliever Randy Choate(notes) took over in the eighth with a 3-0 lead. Choate got two outs before Edward Mujica(notes) and Ryan Webb(notes) gave up three runs in the inning.
The Reds loaded the bases with no outs in the 10th against rookie Michael Dunn (1-1) with walks to Brandon Phillips(notes) and Jonny Gomes(notes) and the pitcher’s error on Miguel Cairo’s(notes) sacrifice bunt.
The Marlins brought in center fielder Chris Coghlan(notes) as an extra infielder, but he returned to the outfield after Ramon Hernandez(notes) grounded into a forceout at the plate. Paul Janish(notes) popped up before Renteria singled through the hole into left field.
The NL Central champion Reds avoided falling below .500 for the first time since they were 14-15 last May 7.
“Almost doesn’t count,” Dunn said. “It was bad pitching. Free passes hurt. J.J. pitched his butt off tonight.”
Manager Dusty Baker considered using Renteria as a pinch-hitter in the eighth.
“I decided to save him,” Baker said. “Edgar’s done that many, many times.”
After Choate struck out two batters, Mujica relieved. Phillips doubled and scored on Gomes’ single, and Cairo added an RBI single. After Hernandez chopped an infield single, Webb relieved and gave up Janish’s tying single.
Florida manager Edwin Rodriguez was surprised by his relievers’ breakdown.
“The bullpen has been so reliable,” Rodriguez said. “Mujica and Webb got ahead in the count but couldn’t put them away. They had a tough night. We faced a good hitting team. We have to give them credit.”
Johnson allowed five hits and two walks while striking out six batters. He was pulled after 117 pitches.
“That was real big,” Baker said. “We were hoping to get his pitch count up. We fouled off a lot of pitches. We were happy when he left the game.”
Volquez, who averaged 32 pitches per first inning in his first four starts of the season, showed signs of more trouble this time. He opened the game by walking Coghlan, who stole second and scored on Omar Infante’s(notes) single. One out later, Volquez walked Gaby Sanchez(notes) before getting Mike Stanton(notes) to hit into an inning-ending double play.
The Marlins rode Aroldis Chapman’s(notes) control problems to two runs in the eighth. Chapman walked three consecutive batters with one out before Wes Helms(notes) came off the bench and doubled into the left-center field gap.
Johnson, who hadn’t allowed a hit in the first three innings of any of his first five starts, wasn’t as dominant in his first start of the season against the Reds. Opposing batters were 0 for 47 with four walks and 21 strikeouts in the first three innings against Johnson before Joey Votto(notes) and Phillips came up with back-to-back two-out singles.
“We have to win that game,” said Johnson, who lowered his season ERA to 0.88. “I had to battle the first three innings. I was inconsistent.”
Votto’s hit extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base at least once with a hit, a walk or being hit by a pitch to 27, seven shy of tying the club record of 34 set by Dave Collins in 1981.
Janish doubled with two outs in the second, but Volquez grounded out to end the inning. Jay Bruce(notes) and Votto drew back-to-back one-out walks in the third, but Phillips struck out and Gomes flied out.
NOTES: Infante left the game in the middle of the fifth inning with a right hamstring cramp. … Votto, a Toronto native, received the 2010 Tip O’Neill Award before Saturday’s game. The award is given annually by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame to a Canada native judged to have enjoyed the best season while “adhering to baseball’s highest ideals.” … Reds RHP Homer Bailey(notes) threw 91 pitches—59 strikes—in 6 1-3 innings of his third rehab start with Triple-A Louisville. Bailey, sidelined since the start of the season with shoulder problems, allowed one run on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts.