A funny and strange thing happened to the Cincinnati Reds Monday on their last day on the West Coast. They won a baseball game.
Oh, they made pitcher Homer Bailey work hard. Don’t they always? He gets the second-lowest run support of any starting pitcher in the National League. And they had given him 1.8 runs per start in four defeats since his no-hitter before the All-Star break.
On Monday against the San Diego Padres they gave him one run, a Brandon Phillips home run leading off the second inning — a 1-0 lead for the first six innings.
But they erupted, if you can call it that, for three runs in the seventh inning and made them stand for a 4-1 victory, ending a five-game losing streak during which they never scored more than two runs.
Bailey took a four-hit shutout into the ninth and seemed on his way to his third complete game of the season and second shutout.
But first baseman Joey Votto booted a ground ball by Everth Cabrera to open the ninth. Bailey retired the next hitter, but when Chase Headley doubled to score a run, manager Dusty Baker brought in Aroldis Chapman to clean it up.
And this time he did it, after giving up a two-run walk-off home run to Chris Denorfia Monday in a 2-1 loss. He got Yonder Alonso to swing at ball four on a 3-and-2 pitch. After Alonso flied to center, Chapman struck out pinch-hitter Jesus Guzman.
Misery over — for one day.
Bailey went 8 1/3 innings, gave up one run, five hits, walked one and struck out seven.
The Reds wrapped it up in the seventh with their three-run outburst after scoring three runs total during a 38-inning span during the losing streak.
And the Padres contributed mightily to the three runs. Zack Cozart led with a single, but Corky Miller struck out and Bailey bunted Cozart to second.
Derrick Robinson grounded to Headley at third for what should have been the third out. But Headley’s throw to first was wide and Robinson was safe on the error.
Chris Heisey blooped a run-scoring single to left to make it 2-0 and Votto crushed a double to right for two more runs — three unearned runs in the inning.
So after a day off the Reds open a three-game series at home Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals. What once looked like it might be a battle to inch the Reds closer to the first-place Cardinals is now a battle for second place because the Pittsburgh Pirates captured first place.
The trade deadline came and went without the Reds making a move, not that general manager Walt Jocketty didn’t try.
But he said there was nobody available better than the four players on the disabled list who should return soon — outfielder Ryan Ludwick, catcher Ryan Hanigan and pitchers Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton.
He said a few things were available, but the price was too high to make those deals.
The victory Wednesday was not without a faux pas or two.
With runners on second and first with no outs, Robinson tried to steal third and was thrown out.
First baseman Votto lost a pop foul in the sun and the ball plopped to the grass next to him — with a pair of sunglasses resting uselessly on the brim of his cap. But no damage ensued.