CINCINNATI (AP) — Right-hander Nick Wittgen walking left-handed Joey Votto — one of baseball’s hottest hitters — with two outs and the tying run on second base made perfect sense.
Until Brandon Phillips came up.
Phillips drove in two runs with his second double of the game and the Cincinnati Reds rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Miami Marlins on Wednesday night.
Billy Hamilton was on second base and Votto — leading the NL with a .451 batting average since the All-Star break going into the game — was on first after being intentionally walked in the seventh inning when Phillips lined a fastball to the gap in right-center field to drive in the go-ahead runs.
“We had a righty against a lefty, and you don’t want that,” Wittgen (3-2) said. “I didn’t make my pitches. I got behind, and he knew a 3-1 fastball was coming. He got good wood on it.”
Josh Smith (2-1) set up the comeback with two innings of scoreless relief after the Marlins had taken a 2-1 lead on third baseman Eugenio Suarez’s two-out error of Marcell Ozuna’s routine grounder in the fifth. That allowed Christian Yelich to score from second.
Blake Wood pitched a perfect eighth and Tony Cingrani retired the side in the ninth for his 15th save in 20 chances and second in two games.
The loss cost Miami a chance to move into a three-way tie with San Francisco and Pittsburgh behind St. Louis in the National League wild-card standings.
Andrew Cashner was in line for his first win for Miami in his fourth start since being acquired from San Diego on July 29. Cashner, who was 0-2 with a 6.61 ERA with the Marlins, allowed five hits and one run with four walks and one strikeout.
“I just had good command of my fastball,” said Cashner, who fouled a bunt off his right cheek in the fourth but stayed in the game. “I got a lot of grounders. I just wish I had gone deeper into the game.”
“He was more aggressive,” manager Don Mattingly said. “He kept the ball down, and his breaking balls were better. Obviously, he put us in position to win.”
Homer Bailey, making his fourth start overall and first at home since coming back from Tommy John surgery in May 2015, left trailing 2-1 after five innings. He gave up all six Miami hits and one earned run — Ozuna’s 21st homer leading off the fourth — with one walk and six strikeouts in his first start in Cincinnati since Aug. 7, 2014.
Phillips and Suarez tied the score with consecutive doubles in the fourth.
LONG TIME: Ozuna’s home run was the first allowed by Bailey since the Brewers’ Aramis Ramirez took him deep on April 23, 2015, at Milwaukee. Bailey underwent Tommy John surgery the next month.
SERIES-OUS: Miami’s Martin Prado singled in his first at-bat to improve to 6 for 10 in the series. Phillips had to make a leaping catch of Prado’s hard line drive in his next at-bat. Prado finished the game 6 for 12 in the series.
HOTTO: Votto singled in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to nine games (16 for 36, .485).
NOTTO: Tucker Barnhart went 0 for 3 with a walk to see his hitting streak stopped at a career-high 12 games.
Marlins: Miami will be careful not to overuse 42-year-old RF Ichiro Suzuki with Giancarlo Stanton on the DL. “It’s important that we don’t run him into the ground,” Mattingly said. “I don’t know if he wants to hear that or not. He’s probably in the best shape of anybody on the team.”
Reds: LF Adam Duvall’s left foot is immobilized in a walking boot to help him heal after fouling a ball off it on Monday. Manager Bryan Price expects Duvall to be out “a couple of days.”
Marlins: RHP Jose Fernandez (12-6), Thursday’s scheduled Miami starter in the finale of the four-game series in Cincinnati, didn’t allow an earned run or a walk and finished with eight strikeouts in seven innings against Cincinnati on July 8.
Reds: Cincinnati’s projected Thursday starter, RHP Dan Straily (8-6), is 4-0 with a 2.13 ERA in six starts since the All-Star break.
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