Phillips drives Reds past Crew in 11th
Cincinnati starter Ramirez allows just one hit in six innings
MILWAUKEE -- Somehow, Brandon Phillips shook off what had to be some real pain in his finger -- just long enough to deliver a big hit.In the top of the 11th inning against Seth McClung, Phillips bunted a 94-mph fastball foul but caught his right index finger on the ball. Two pitches later, he was still able to lace a hard RBI single to right-center field that scored Corey Patterson and gave the Reds a 5-4 win over the Brewers. Phillips, who entered the plate appearance 1-for-9 in the series, was in no mood to celebrate his slump-busting hit. X-rays taken after the game revealed a fracture in the index finger. He will return to Cincinnati on Wednesday to be seen by team medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek. Understandably upset upon hearing the news, Phillips did not speak to reporters. "He's been struggling pretty good," manager Dusty Baker said before the extent of the injury was known. "That was a big, big hit. It was the second time they walked Joey Votto [intentionally] to get to him. We all knew he was due. He hit a rocket out there." Before the bottom of the 11th, head trainer Mark Mann went to check on Phillips but was told he was OK. Phillips finished the game. It was a four-hour, 21-minute game that featured 16 pitchers combined for both teams. Welcome to September baseball, where benches and bullpens are bountiful with players to spare. Roster expansion gave Baker 34 players at his disposal, while the Brewers had 36. It seemed like almost all of them would get used on Tuesday night. "We needed them," Baker said of his extra players. "Imagine where we'd have been if those guys hadn't been here. We had a couple of extra guys left." In his second Major League start, Ramon Ramirez gave up just one run and one hit over six innings with four walks and four strikeouts. Ramirez survived what could have been a disastrous 35-pitch first inning. It featured two walks, a balk and Edwin Encarnacion's error on a routine popup as he collided with catcher Ryan Hanigan. However, the only run and hit off Ramirez came on Prince Fielder's RBI single. After throwing 57 pitchers through the second inning, Ramirez faced the minimum number of hitters and retired his final 10 in a row. In two starts and one relief appearance, he has allowed just one right-handed batter to get a hit. Fielder is left-handed. "I really wanted Ramon to get his first victory. He threw lights-out," Baker said. "He wants the ball. He loves to pitch. This was a better test for him. The first couple of teams we played weren't as high-octane, offensively, as [the Brewers] were." It was a 1-1 game in the top of the sixth when Encarnacion smoked a two-run home run to left field off Brewers starter Jeff Suppan. Jay Bruce followed with a homer to right field for a 4-1 lead. Reds reliever Jared Burton couldn't hold it when he took over in the seventh. With one out, Burton walked Bill Hall and hit Jason Kendall with a 1-2 pitch. Pinch-hitter Ray Durham lifted a 1-1 pitch for the game-tying three-run homer. The homer wiped a would-be first win for Ramirez, who was also victimized by a blown save in his big league debut on Aug. 30 vs. the Giants. The Reds were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 men on base, but still found a way. The Brewers also struggled at the plate, tallying just five hits in 11 innings. With one out in the top of the 11th, Patterson hit a double to left-center field off reliever Seth McClung (5-6) and went to third base on Jeff Keppinger's groundout. Votto drew an intentional walk before Phillips came through with his RBI base hit to right-center field that snapped the 4-4 deadlock. "It was a total team effort," Patterson said. "Brandon did an excellent job getting me in there." Fresh callup Jon Adkins (1-0) notched the final out of the Milwaukee 10th for the victory. Francisco Cordero took care of the 11th inning for his 29th save, his second in two nights. Cincinnati has officially become a nuisance in the National League Central and Wild Card races. It has won five of its last six games, including the playoff-contending Brewers and Cubs. Slumping Milwaukee is clinging to a three-game lead for the Wild Card and trails the first-place Cubs by 4 1/2 games. "For us, it's like our playoffs or World Series, or whatever you want to call it," Patterson said. "We know we're going to get the best from both of those teams because they're competing for the division. If we can play well ... it shows we can play with the teams at the top of our division." However, it looks like they could be playing those teams without Phillips.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.