Bruce, Miller carry Reds to win with bats, defense
Duo drives in first five runs, combines for out at home to back Bailey
CINCINNATI -- It was no surprise Wednesday when Jay Bruce helped spark the Reds with a two-run homer and some stellar defense in their Interleague contest against the A's. Cincinnati's other star player, though, played only part of five innings and was a little less likely of a hero.
Catcher Corky Miller connected on a pair of RBI doubles in back-to-back innings, giving him multiple extra-base hits in a game for just the fourth time in his career, en route to a 6-5 win against Oakland at Great American Ball Park. Those would be Miller's only two at-bats of the game, as he later left with a right quad contusion, but they were enough to help Cincinnati to consecutive wins for the first time since July 24-25 against the Giants and Dodgers.
The Reds held their annual family game prior to Wednesday's win, and both of Miller's sons -- Caden, 8, and Chase, 5 -- were on hand to make Miller's big day even better.
"It was good," Miller said. "They haven't seen me play a lot, maybe up in Chicago. Having them here, especially with the family day for the Reds, it was fun. It was fun looking out there and seeing them."
With the team because of a left wrist injury to Ryan Hanigan, Miller has spent most of the year with Triple-A Louisville. In his 13th season playing professional baseball, the 37-year-old journeyman logged the first two-double game of his career Wednesday.
He and Bruce also teamed up defensively in the win. With runners on second and third and two outs in the fourth inning, Homer Bailey gave up a single to Stephen Vogt. Although one run scored to cut the lead to 5-2, Bruce prevented further damage with a laser throw to Miller, who tagged Alberto Callaspo for the final out of the inning in a collision at the plate.
Both players were injured on the play, and although Miller caught one more frame before being forced from the game, Callaspo exited immediately with a left forearm contusion.
Miller said Callaspo's knee crashed into his, causing the painful injury that made it hard for him to crouch down in a catching position.
"It's never a good thing to have a collision at the plate," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "But Corky held on to the ball, did what he was supposed to do, and it was an outstanding throw by Jay."
With Hanigan expected back in the coming days, Miller is aware he will likely be sent down soon, especially if the contusion keeps him out of action for an extended period of time. He also knows that at his age and position, he needs to savor every opportunity he has left.
"It's not just today," Miller said. "Obviously two hits is good, but if I would have went 0-for-4 and Homer would have pitched in the seventh, that would have been just the same.
"I go out there every day like it may be my last and try to help the ballclub win."
The run-saving play by Bruce and Miller turned out to be huge for Bailey, who earned his seventh win of the year despite allowing five runs on nine hits. He gave up a solo shot to Josh Donaldson in the second before Bruce and Miller bailed him out in the fourth.
Following a clean fifth, Bailey surrendered four hits, including a double and a triple, in the first five at-bats of the sixth. Fortunately for Bailey and the Reds, Manny Parra took over, and after Eric Sogard was caught in a rundown between third and home on Derek Norris' fielder's choice, the lefty reliever struck out Josh Reddick to end the threat with the Reds leading, 6-5.
"They put the bat on the ball pretty well," Bailey said. "You saw it with Mat [Latos] last night. He didn't have a whole lot of strikeouts like he's been having all year. And when you put it in play, things happen."
Before hitting his 24th home run of the season -- and second in as many days -- in the third inning, Bruce brought home Shin-Soo Choo on a fielder's choice in the first to put the Reds on top, 1-0. Xavier Paul scored the only run not driven in by Bruce or Miller in the fifth, when replacement catcher Devin Mesoraco hit an RBI single to make it 6-2 in favor of the Reds.
Cincinnati chased 14-game winner Bartolo Colon from the game after just 2 2/3 innings, marking the shortest outing of his season and snapping a string of 15 straight quality starts.
"He didn't look like he had his best stuff today," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "His velocity was down. He had a little bit of a stomach ailment in the bullpen when he was warming up. He's had it before, so it was just a combination of things today."
The Reds scored five of their runs against Colon, as both bullpens were effective. After the three runs surrendered by Bailey in the sixth, four Reds relievers combined to throw 3 2/3 scoreless innings, capped by Aroldis Chapman's 27th save of the season.
By taking two games from Oakland, the Reds won their first series since winning three of four against the Giants from July 22-24. And after a five-game losing streak, Cincinnati has now won four of its past six while trying to keep pace with the Pirates and Cardinals in the National League Central.
"I think that we need every win from this point out," Bruce said. "And I think that's something we expect out of ourelves. [The A's] have been playing good baseball all year, and we played a little better these two days. I think that's hopefully a sign of what's to come."