Ailing Reds able to edge Brewers
Micah Owings helped the ailing Cincinnati Reds feel a little better.
The right-hander pitched six innings and had a tiebreaking triple Thursday night, leading Cincinnati's flu-stricken lineup to a 6-5 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers and a split of their two-game series.
The Reds needed everything they could get from Owings (2-3), their fifth starter and occasional pinch hitter. The lineup was missing two starters with the flu, and the pitching staff was so worn out that shortstop Paul Janish worked the ninth inning of Milwaukee's 15-3 win on Thursday night.
"Micah gave us all he had," manager Dusty Baker said. "We tried to stay with him as long as we could. Our bullpen was upside-down. Heck, our lineup was upside-down, too. All of the guys came through big-time. This was a big win."
Owings' run-scoring triple off Braden Looper (2-2) helped him turn a 6-5 lead over to the bullpen. Francisco Cordero retired the three batters he faced in the ninth, remaining perfect in eight save chances.
Jay Bruce and Willy Taveras also had solo homers off Looper, who lasted only 3 1-3 innings, his shortest appearance of the season.
"The whole outing - frustrating is putting it a nice way," Looper said. "I just didn't have it today. I kept trying and kept trying, and wasn't able to get the ball down."
Milwaukee won three of four on its brief trip to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. The Brewers have won 12 of their last 16 games overall, allowing them to head home feeling good.
"We're playing great," manager Ken Macha said. "All kinds of things happened in that game, so you probably could sit in here and talk about this game for an hour about all the little things here or there that could have made a difference in the game."
Baker went through three different lineups before the game, trying to keep on top of his team's multiplying illnesses and injuries. Janish had a sore shoulder after his impromptu pitching performance the previous night and needed a day off.
Baker had to rework the lineup during batting practice after first baseman Joey Votto came down with the flu. He totally overhauled it after second baseman Brandon Phillips also got sick a little while later, forcing Janish into the lineup at shortstop. The Reds already were missing shortstop Alex Gonzalez, sidelined by pulled muscles in his right side.
What little was left of the lineup was just enough to get a win. Owings pulled it through.
The Reds turned double plays behind him in the second and third innings to escape threats and allow Owings to settle in. He knew the Reds were counting on him heavily, given their manpower problems.
"I don't really call it pressure," Owings said. "I definitely wanted to do the best that I could to pick us up. They were unreal. I don't know how many double plays they turned."
Owings, one of the best-hitting pitchers in the majors, had an RBI triple that put the Reds ahead to stay in the fourth. His hit skipped past diving left fielder Ryan Braun, and Owings beat the relay with a hard slide into third, slamming the base three times with his right hand after arriving safely.
"A slider right down the middle," Looper said. "It's not like he crushed the ball. He just hit it to the right spot."
Owings then scored on a wild pitch for a 5-3 lead.
Prince Fielder had three hits for the Brewers, including a bases-loaded double in the fourth inning.
Brewers 3B Bill Hall was back in the lineup for the first time since Monday, when he slightly pulled his right hamstring. He walked, struck out and left the game as part of a double-switch. ... Owings' triple was the first by a Reds pitcher since Eric Milton had one on April 13, 2006, at Wrigley Field. ... Gonzalez has been getting treatment for the pulled side muscles. He hopes to swing a bat on Saturday and see how he feels. ... Bruce's homer extended his hitting streak to a season-high eight games. ... Taveras' homer was his first since June 13.