All the Reds had to show for a long, cold afternoon was one hit heading into their final at-bat. Five batters later, they were celebrating on the infield.
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Jay Bruce pulled a double just inside first base, completing Cincinnati’s three-run rally off closer Brandon Lyon in the ninth inning Wednesday for a 3-2 victory over the Houston Astros that left everyone stunned.
”It’s hard to believe we had one hit and came back to win,” said Chris Heisey, whose triple was the sum total of Cincinnati’s offense until the final inning.
Lyon (3-2) came on to try to finish off the one-hitter, but failed to retire any of the five batters he faced while blowing a save for the fourth time in eight chances. It started badly – he walked Drew Stubbs on four pitches. Then, it got worse with each batter.
Heisey and Joey Votto singled to bring Stubbs home, and Brandon Phillips tied it with another single to the opposite field. Bruce then pulled a pitch down the line for Cincinnati’s third game-ending hit of the season.
”It was like we were sleeping, then we woke up,” Bruce said. ”We tend to do that. Anytime they walk the leadoff guy, you know you have the opportunity to score some runs. We have a knack for doing that. It shows our resiliency.”
The Reds’ 10-4 loss on Tuesday night dropped them below .500 for the first time in nearly a year. The comeback prevented them from reaching new depths.
”That’s the kind of team we have,” manager Dusty Baker said. ”If you go home, you might miss the ballgame. Sometimes, you have games that you can’t believe you won, just like sometimes you have games you can’t believe you lost.”
Francisco Cordero (2-0) pitched the ninth for the win.
Lyon’s meltdown spoiled an impressive starting debut by rookie Aneury Rodriguez, who allowed only one hit and one walk over five innings. Four relievers held the Reds without another hit until Lyon got into the game. He wasn’t available for interviews afterward.
”We’ve got confidence in our bullpen, even with Brandon,” catcher J.R. Towles said. ”It wasn’t like they were squaring balls up. He’s having some bad luck now.”
The 12,340 fans bundled in blankets, trying to stay warm on a cloudy, 44-degree afternoon.
It was Rodriguez’s day until the Reds’ last at-bat. The pitcher, claimed from Tampa Bay in the Rule 5 draft, started games in the Dominican League over the winter but won a spot on the Astros’ staff as a reliever. He made his first nine appearances out of the bullpen, never going more then two innings or 36 pitches.
Manager Brad Mills moved struggling Nelson Figueroa to the bullpen last week and promoted Rodriguez to the rotation. His starting debut exceeded expectations.
Rodriguez allowed only Valaika’s triple in the third that eluded Hunter Pence on the warning track in right field. Rodriguez struck out three and threw 49 of 83 pitches for strikes.
The Astros played their second game without left fielder Carlos Lee, sidelined by bruised ribs from a collision with a teammate. Jason Bourgeois was a perfect fill-in again, driving home a run with a single off Travis Wood. Bourgeois has started the last four games, going 9 for 17 with three doubles and four steals.
Houston’s Brett Wallace went 0 for 4, ending his career-best hitting streak at 11 games.
NOTES: The teams will play Thursday afternoon, making up a game rained out Monday night. … It was the first of five straight day games for the Reds, who play a weekend series in Chicago. … The Reds activated OF Fred Lewis and optioned OF Jeremy Hermida to Triple-A Louisville. Lewis has been on the DL since the start of the season with strained muscles in his right side. Hermida was 2 for 18 after his April 18 call-up. … With his RBI single in the ninth, Votto has reached base safely in the first 30 games – four shy of Dave Collins’ club record from 1981.