The Reds and Cardinals scoreless in the bottom of the seventh Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park, Billy Hamilton got call he was waiting for. One day after joining the Reds as a part of September call ups, Hamilton was told to take over as a pinch-runner after Ryan Ludwick opened the inning with a single.
So in his Major League debut, Hamilton did what he’s been doing in the minors the last couple of seasons, stealing second after three consecutive pickoff attempts. Three pitches later, Todd Frazier doubled down the left-field line, Hamilton scored his first Major League and the decisive run in a Reds 1-0 win over the Cardinals.
With the win, the Reds have moved to within 1 1/2 games of the second-place Cardinals in the National League Central and remained 3 1/2 back of the first-place Pirates, who also won Tuesday. Cincinnati and St. Louis hold the two Wild Card spots.
Hamilton entered the game well aware of its importance, and after Homer Bailey tossed seven dominant scoreless innings, Hamilton knew exactly what he needed to do. So did the Reds fans who rose to their feet at GABP when he took first base.
Hamilton’s reputation precedes him after he set a professional record with 155 stolen bases in 2012. That speed is a huge asset in a pennant race and man did it ever.
Reds starter Homer Bailey has been on fire his last six starts. After shutting out the Cardinals for 7 1/3 innings last Wednesday, Bailey did it again and made it 14 1/3 straight scoreless innings against St. Louis. Bailey allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out eight. Earning his 10th victory of the season and pushing his overall record this year to .500 at (10-10), also has won 5 straight decisions.
Bailey, who gave up a base hit and a walk to the first two batters before escaping the first on big double play. He then hit Jon Jay with a pitch in the second and gave up a second single to Matt Carpenter in the third.
After that no Cardinals reached base, Bailey made sure that was the case for as long as he was on the mound. Following Carpenter’s single, Bailey retired his final 14 batters. He needed just 10 pitches in the fourth and another 13 in the fifth, when he struck out the side, before rolling through the sixth and seventh frames.
Cardinals starter Michael Wacha, who pitched four scoreless innings in relief Wednesday against Cincinnati, also gave up a walk and a single in the first. However, like Bailey, Wacha breezed through, as he finished his day without allowing a run in six innings.
That’s when the Reds finally broke through in the seventh inning, as Ludwick’s leadoff single and Frazier’s double off Cardinals reliever Seth Maness allowed Hamilton to score the game winning run.
Following the seventh, Bailey wanted to remain in the game, but Baker went with left-hander Manny Parra for the eighth, setting up Aroldis Chapman, who hadn’t pitched since Aug. 24. Chapman struck out the side in order for his 34th save and was throwing 103 MPH so no sign of rusty from the Cuban flame thrower.
The Reds have won four of their last six, and after going 4-10 to start the season series with the Cardinals, Cincinnati has taken three straight from St. Louis. Tonight’s pitching match-up for Game three of the series will be Bronson Arroyo and Shelby Miller. First pitch is at 7:10pm.