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04/14/10 12:08 AM EST
Votto, Phillips spark Reds' win in extras
Clutch RBI singles in 11th give club its fifth win in final at-bat
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Late-inning clutch hits and last at-bat histrionics have defined the Reds in the early going of this season. It seems like they can't win without both. A 10-8 win over the Marlins in 11 innings on Tuesday improved the Reds' record to 5-3, with five wins in the last six games. All of them have come in the team's final at-bat. "Winning the close games like we are, that's big," said reliever Micah Owings (2-0), who worked scoreless ninth and 10th innings for the victory. "You see all the great teams, that's what they do. I know we're having a lot of fun right now. We just have to keep it up." In the top of the 11th inning against reliever Dan Meyer (0-1), Joey Votto lined a two-out RBI single into center field that scored pinch-runner Chris Dickerson from second base. The hit just missed being caught by leaping shortstop Hanley Ramirez. "You feel very comfortable there with Joey in that situation," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "That ball barely went off of Hanley Ramirez's glove." Votto, who was 3-for-5 in the game, started the at-bat down with two called strikes but worked a 2-2 count before making contact. "I just tried to put the ball in play. I broke my bat on that one," Votto said. "It's kind of the way the game works sometimes." Next batter Brandon Phillips, who snapped out of a funk with a 4-for-6, two-RBI game, followed Votto in the 11th with an RBI single to left field that scored Drew Stubbs. Closer Francisco Cordero notched his fourth save with a perfect bottom of the 11th with two strikeouts. After concerns about the Reds offense flailing in the first week of the season, they have scored 16 runs and collected 24 hits in two games vs. Florida -- both extra-inning wins. Cincinnati seemed destined for a smooth night when it gave starter Bronson Arroyo a 6-1 lead through four innings on a pair of three-run home runs by Jonny Gomes and Ryan Hanigan. Easy hasn't fit the Reds' modus operandi, however, at least not yet this season. Things got tough for Arroyo in the Marlins' fifth inning, when he faced eight batters and gave up four runs. "I didn't have a lot of zip on my fastball," said Arroyo, who finished with five earned runs and six hits with one walk and three strikeouts in six innings. "So I kind of threw everything I had at them early in the game, hoping to just get deep enough to give us an opportunity to turn the ball over to the pen. It bit me in the butt there with the one big inning." With main setup man Nick Masset unavailable after three straight nights of work, Reds rookie reliever Logan Ondrusek was given a chance to hold down an 8-5 lead in the Marlins' eighth but couldn't get it done. Ondrusek gave up a leadoff single and a two-out, four-pitch walk to Ronny Paulino. That enabled Cody Ross to hit the game-tying three-run homer to left field. Florida sent nine men to the plate in the eighth. Ondrusek's ERA has climbed to 16.20 through five appearances. "That club over there, you have to keep playing," Baker said. "They have some guys that keep battling as well. We kept battling." Events seemed to foreshadow a rough ending for the Reds. In the 10th, Votto hit a leadoff double but could not advance or score. In the 11th, with runners on first and second and one out, left fielder Chris Coghlan made a spectacular diving catch on Orlando Cabrera's drive to the warning track. Votto was next and delivered the go-ahead run. Always wary of boasting, he did not want to overemphasize the significance of the final at-bat success the Reds have had. "I think it's a good sign," Votto said. "To be completely honest with you, if I'm not mistaken, last year we had a lot of losses that same way. To flip it -- I don't mean to be premature with my comment -- I think it's a pretty good sign that we're winning these ones, especially on the road." Last season, the Reds were in fact 15-14 in games decided by the last at-bat. This year, they're 5-0. "Winning big games like this late hadn't happened for us a whole lot since I've been on this team," said Arroyo, a Red since 2006. "It's definitely refreshing. It's the kind of stuff that if you look back five months from now, those are the huge wins that can change the standings for us."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.