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Five-run 11th sends Reds past Giants

The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Cincinnati Reds appeared headed for a tough loss Saturday night, trailing 1-0 in the top of the ninth inning with San Francisco Giants closer Sergio Romo on the mound at AT&T Park.

Looks can be deceiving for what has become one of baseball's hottest teams.

Second baseman Brandon Phillips crushed a two-run homer on his 33rd birthday off Romo, giving the Reds a 2-1 lead. Then after the Giants pulled even with a run off Cincinnati closer Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the ninth, the Reds scored five times in the 11th and rolled to a 7-3 victory.

Shortstop Zack Cozart lined a tiebreaking two-run, two-out single with the bases loaded in the top of the 11th, left fielder Chris Heisey followed with a two-run triple and center fielder Billy Hamilton added an RBI single.

"I would have said three weeks ago, I don't know what it was, but we probably wouldn't have come back like we did tonight," said Cozart, who had 11 assists in the field. "I think we're starting to build some momentum, get some confidence."

The Reds won their fifth straight game and for the 13th time in their past 17 games. They beat the Giants for the third straight time and will go for the series sweep Sunday afternoon.

The Giants' lead in the National League West, which was 9 1/2 games on June 8, is down to one game over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Phillips' homer gave Cincinnati its first lead of the night. After first baseman Joey Votto worked a leadoff walk, Phillips crushed a 2-2 pitch in the left field seats off Romo.

"I didn't really think I was going to hit a home run off that cat," Phillips said. "I don't know what happened. I just tried to make contact.

"Since it's my birthday, I think God had the wind blow the ball over the fence. So I was like, 'Thank you Lord, the angels in the outfield, the pigeons -- whatever them things were -- they were helping the ball go over the fence. But it felt good. Happy birthday to myself."

The blown save was Romo's fifth of the season in 27 chances and third in his past five opportunities.

"I feel like I was getting back in the groove again," Romo said. "Today was a little setback. I was legit one pitch away. I have to come back and be smarter. If you're going to get beat, you want to get beat with your best pitch. It was too good of a pitch to hit. When you give him a chance like that, he's going to hurt you."

In the bottom of the ninth, the Giants rallied to score a run off Chapman, who blew a save for just the second time this season and barely survived a loss.

Chapman gave up a leadoff single to right fielder Hunter Pence then walked third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Pinch-hitter Buster Posey ripped a double to left, driving in Pence and moving Sandoval to third as the Giants pulled even.

With Cincinnati's infield drawn in, Chapman retired catcher Hector Sanchez and pinch-hitter Joaquin Arias on weak ground balls to Cozart. Then Chapman struck out first baseman Adam Duvall on a 100 mph fastball.

Chapman had his streak of 14 saves snapped and worked a fourth straight game for the second time in his career. He had saved each of the Reds' previous three games, including the first two of the series against San Francisco.

"I thought he was fantastic," Votto said of Chapman. "Everyone's going to fail in this game, and he had the resiliency to be able to push through that and be able to complete the inning."

Votto led off the top of the 11th with an opposite-field double to left field off Giants left-handed reliever Javier Lopez, who issued an intentional walk to second baseman Brandon Phillips. Both runners advanced on right fielder Jay Bruce's sacrifice bunt.

After Lopez (1-1) loaded the bases with an intentional walk to catcher Devin Mesoraco, Giants right-hander Jean Machi struck out pinch-hitter Ramon Santiago. But Cozart lined a two-run single to center field, giving Cincinnati a 4-2 lead.

"I've been feeling pretty good at the plate," Cozart said. "I've hit some balls hard they've caught. I was trying to stay through the middle. I knew his pitch was a (split-finger fastball). He threw it and he hung it up a little bit and I put a good swing on it. We had some bit hits after that to add on and put it away."

Reds right-hander Jonathan Broxton (4-0) pitched a high-stress, scoreless 10th inning and picked up the victory, Cincinnati's first this season when trailing after eight innings.

Until Phillips' blast in the ninth, it appeared as if Giants right-hander Matt Cain would prevail in a duel with Reds starter Alfredo Simon.

Cain pitched seven shutout innings, allowing six hits, all singles, and got a no-decision. He struck out four, walked two and left the game with San Francisco leading 1-0.

"That was a tough one," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of the loss. "Matt Cain pitched his heart out. We have to bounce back."

Simon, who's tied for the National League lead for victories with 10, allowed just one run and two hits in seven innings and got a no-decision. He struck out four and walked one.

Simon allowed both hits -- a single to shortstop Brandon Crawford and double to Duvall -- in the fifth inning when San Francisco scored its first run.

NOTES: Giants 1B Brandon Belt (broken left thumb) had his rehabilitation assignment moved from Class A San Jose to Triple-A Fresno on Saturday night, two days ahead of schedule. Belt went 2-for-3 with a home run and, for the second time in two games, was hit by a pitch Friday. ... After getting a day off Friday, Reds 1B Joey Votto returned to the lineup. The Reds are 13-5 since Votto came off the disabled list May 21. ... Giants CF Angel Pagan (back strain) ran on a treadmill and hit off a tee Saturday. He might take batting practice on the field Sunday, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
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