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04/13/10 12:33 AM ET
Great Scott! Rolen leads Reds past Marlins
Veteran third baseman has two homers and game-winning hit
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Big offensive nights early in the season seem to make a player's numbers leap tall buildings in a single bound.
It was Scott Rolen who donned the red cape with a 3-for-5, three-RBI night in the Reds' 6-5 win over the Marlins in 10 innings on Monday. Rolen banged two homers, but it was his soft liner to right field in the top of the 10th that proved to be the game-winner.
The score was tied at 5 when Joey Votto led off the 10th with a walk off Burke Badenhop (0-1) and went to second on Brandon Phillips' sacrifice. On a 1-2 count, Rolen took a slider the opposite way for a single just out of the reach of second baseman Dan Uggla. Votto scored standing.
"The ball was away a little bit, and I got it off of the end [of the bat]," Rolen said. "It carried for me all night, so that was good."
In the top of the second, Rolen sent a 1-1 pitch from Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco just beyond the first-row railing in right field. His fourth-inning long ball off Nolasco was no wall-scraper. It went deep into the seats in left field and gave him three homers for the season.
Rolen's average climbed from .235 to .318. Not bad for a night's work.
"All of a sudden, I'm having a good year," he joked. "Joey made a good point in a postgame interview. He said that he felt my two home runs weren't my two best at-bats of the game. That's kind of exciting there at the end. I had a chance to try and move a guy over in the eighth and then got a chance to get a hit in the [10th]."
After the Reds dropped their first two games of the season, they've won four of the last five.
Had reliever Nick Masset not made some key pitches in the bottom of the ninth, Rolen wouldn't have had a chance to come up big. Masset (2-0) worked into and escaped a hairy bases-loaded, two-out jam for the victory.
It came down to making a pair of 3-2 pitches to Cody Ross with no margin for a mistake.
"That's stuff you play as a kid," manager Dusty Baker said. "You play it on that side, and you play it on this side. [Ross] fouled off a couple of tough pitches. You just say, 'Hey, Nick, throw one more strike.' You hate to have a walk-off walk. Nick gave us all he got."
Masset finished Ross with a 97-mph sinker that induced an inning-ending groundout to the shortstop.
"I think I swung at ball four; it was probably down," Ross said. "It's a tough pitch to take because he throws a sinker that moves pretty good. But I went and watched video, and it was obviously down."
"Really, the whole time I was trying to get him to beat it into the ground," Masset said. "That's the way it ended up. My job was to go out there and put a zero on the board."
Francisco Cordero worked a perfect bottom of the 10th for his third save.
Starter Johnny Cueto had an erratic evening, pitching five innings and allowing four earned runs on nine hits with one walk and two strikeouts. A 33-pitch bottom of the third, during which he allowed three runs, spiked Cueto's pitch count, and he eventually finished with 110.
Still, Cueto exited with a 5-4 lead because of Orlando Cabrera's two-run homer in the top of the fifth.
In the seventh, with Daniel Ray Herrera on the mound and a man on base, Ronny Paulino hit a hard grounder to Phillips, who fell and made a late fielder's-choice throw to second base. The play was ruled an RBI infield single, and it scored the tying run.
"[This game] was a battle," Baker said. "We left some runners on third, and they left some runners out there. We ended up getting the big hit. Scott Rolen had a great night tonight."