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08/15/08 12:35 AM ET
Dickerson's first RBI propels Reds
Rookie's sixth-inning double provides Cincy winning margin
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Chris Dickerson has four Major League hits in his two games. All were extra-base hits. Not a bad haul for the Reds rookie outfielder. "That's fine. Keep 'em rolling, keep 'em coming," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He's playing well." Dickerson's first career RBI came on a double in the sixth inning that was the go-ahead run in the Reds' 3-1 win over the Pirates. It was part of a 3-for-4 game that featured two doubles and a triple, plus a run scored on a suicide squeeze. "That was interesting. I'm kind of speechless, so bear with me," said Dickerson, who called up from Triple-A Louisville Tuesday to replace the traded Adam Dunn. "That was exciting. I don't know what to say. I felt really comfortable tonight and that was the most important thing. I think I worked out the jitters from the first game." Dickerson's sixth-inning two-bagger also solved some other issues. By snapping a 1-1 tie, it enabled starter Johnny Cueto to get a victory after he was lifted for a pinch-hitter. It took Corey Patterson off the hook following his baserunning mistake. Up until that point, the Reds were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, including leaving the bases loaded in the third. "Early in the game, we left some guys out there," Baker said. "You're hoping it didn't come back to haunt us. Dickerson had a couple of big hits for us." In the sixth, Patterson hit a leadoff double and went to third base on Paul Bako's groundout. Pinch-hitter Andy Phillips followed with a sharp grounder to third base. Although watching the ball all the way, Patterson broke on contact and was thrown out in a rundown. Dickerson saved the Reds when he followed with a tailing liner to right field. "That was a huge at-bat," Dickerson said. "I just told myself once he got on third, just relax and take a couple of extra deep breaths and try not to put too much pressure on myself and try to succeed. Focus on what I need to do in that situation." Cueto gave up one earned run and just four hits over five innings, but threw a lot of pitches in a hurry. During a 27-pitch first inning, Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson started off with singles with Sanchez scoring on Andy LaRoche's two-out single. Leading off the Reds' second, Valentin tied the game with his second homer in three days and third for the season. The next run was hard to come by against wild throwing Pirates starter Ian Snell, who allowed five walks in six innings. Cueto (8-11) was impressive after that and gave up just one more hit the rest of the game on a single off Valentin's glove at first. But he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth after throwing 95 pitches. "We just have to get him out of that first inning without getting into trouble," Baker said. "If he can have a 1-2-3 first inning, who knows how deep he can go in the ballgame. I'm glad he got the win because he's been pitching great." It was Cueto's first victory after a six-game winless streak. The bullpen dodged danger in the Pirates' seventh after reliever Nick Masset gave up back-to-back singles. With Bill Bray in, Nate McLouth's bunt single to third base loaded the bases. Bray struck out Adam LaRoche and Gary Majewski was called in to face Andy LaRoche. Majewski induced a sharp grounder to second base that was turned for an inning-ending double play. "That was a big turning point in the game," Baker said. An insurance run came in the top of the ninth and it involved Dickerson. He smoked a one-out triple to the right-field corner. With Jeff Keppinger, Dickerson was alert for third-base coach Mark Berry's sign calling for a suicide-squeeze bunt. Keppinger got the bunt down perfectly towards the mound as Dickerson raced home. "It's a good thing," Dickerson said of the bunt play. "We had a little verbal confirmation. I just talked to him about it and he didn't know if I understood what he said. But I got the sign. From the get-go I was geared up. Kepp is a great bunter. As soon as he made the call, I knew it was an automatic run." The Reds have won just three of 13 games played in August and took two of three from the Pirates.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.