CINCINNATI (AP) — A day after clinching a title, the Reds got their manager back for a few minutes.
Dusty Baker was released from a Chicago hospital on Sunday and made it home before the start of Cincinnati’s 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He briefly visited players in the clubhouse after batting practice and went home for some rest.
“I thought he looked great,” left fielder Ryan Ludwick said. “He was in good spirits. It was great to see his smile, and he got a lot of hugs from us. He was cool, calm and collected. We all want him here, but we know it’s going to take some time.”
The 63-year-old manager became ill while the team was in Chicago last week and spent four days in a hospital getting treated for an irregular heartbeat. The Reds won their second NL Central title in three years on Saturday night while he was still far away, raising a toast to him in the clubhouse after their 6-0 victory.
Cincinnati is off on Monday and will open a three-game series against Milwaukee on Tuesday, giving Baker another day to recuperate. The Reds are a half-game behind Washington for the best record in the NL and the top seed in the playoffs.
“Dusty looked good,” starter Homer Bailey said. “I saw him for a quick second. I think they’re expecting him to be back Tuesday.”
Baker will see more doctors in Cincinnati before anything is decided.
“He looked good,” bench coach Chris Speier said. “It was really, really great to see him. He was in great spirits. We’re just taking it one step at a time.”
Bailey (12-10) allowed five hits in 6 2-3 innings, including two solo homers by Adrian Gonzalez, who has five in his career off the right-hander. His second homer started a four-run seventh inning that also featured Mark Ellis’ RBI double.
“I’ll tell you one thing: If you want to get Adrian Gonzalez hot, have him hit against me,” Bailey said. “I throw balls out of the (strike) zone, and he still hits them out.”
Shawn Tolleson (3-1) got the victory with one perfect inning in relief. Ronald Belisario gave up a two-run homer by Denis Phipps — his first in the majors — in the eighth inning. Brandon League pitched the ninth for his fifth save in as many chances with LA.
The Dodgers remained three games behind St. Louis and a half-game behind Milwaukee for the final NL playoff spot. All three won on Sunday.
Los Angeles is off Monday before starting a three-game series in San Diego. The Dodgers finish the season with six games at home — three against Colorado, three against NL West-champion San Francisco.
After the loss on Saturday night, the Dodgers changed their pitching plans for the final game of the series, letting their 2011 Cy Young winner see what he could do. Clayton Kershaw hadn’t pitched since Sept. 11 because of a sore hip and probably wouldn’t have made another start if LA was out of contention.
The left-hander faced a Reds lineup missing four regulars who got the day off after they clinched. Ludwick, right fielder Jay Bruce, third baseman Scott Rolen and shortstop Zack Cozart were out of the lineup.
“I think with our personnel, we’ve put a competitive team out there every day,” Speier said. “But again, we’re going to take care of ourselves and make sure the people that need a day or two to get their injuries under wraps will have those. But I don’t think that’s going to be hard.”
Kershaw hit Chris Heisey to open the Reds’ first inning and needed 92 pitches to get through five innings, leaving with the score tied at 1. He fanned Joey Votto with the bases loaded in the fourth to keep it tied at 1.
NOTES: Mattingly plans to start RHP Josh Beckett as planned on Tuesday, then have RHP Aaron Harang go on Wednesday. … Gonzalez is 8 for 15 with five career homers off Bailey. It was his 14th career multihomer game and his first of the season. … A.J. Ellis snapped an 0-for-30 slump. … SS Hanley Ramirez fouled a ball off his left shin in the seventh inning, singled and left for a pinch runner, limping as he headed for the dugout. … Votto missed 48 games because of two operations for torn cartilage in his left knee. He is batting .314 without a homer in 17 games since his return. … C Ryan Hanigan left with a bruised right shoulder, hit by a pitch that bounced. Precautionary X-rays were negative.