Frazier KO's Dodgers with walk-off single
Speedy rookie Hamilton makes his presence felt in extra-innings win
CINCINNATI -- When Billy Hamilton joined the Reds as part of the expanded September rosters on Monday, he was well aware that he was coming to the team primarily as a baserunning specialist. What he didn't know was that he would make the impact he has in less than a week.
For the second time in five days, Hamilton entered a game for the Reds and scored the winning run. The speedster raced home on Todd Frazier's single off Brian Wilson in the 10th inning for a 4-3 win over the Dodgers on Saturday at Great American Ball Park.
"It's been a good week -- full of excitement," said Hamilton, who wrapped up his season with Triple-A Louisville just nine days ago. "But, once again, I had to do my job. That's what I'm here for -- to come in [during] the late innings like this -- and I came through again for the team for a big win, so I'm excited."
In an almost identical scenario to Tuesday's win over the Cardinals, Hamilton entered as a pinch-runner after Ryan Ludwick opened the 10th with a walk, much to the delight of the sellout crowd. After swiping second and remaining perfect (4-for-4) on steal attempts in his brief big league career, he knew as soon as Frazier hit the ball that he was headed home -- eventually beating Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig's throw to the plate.
Frazier also delivered the game-winning hit on Tuesday. The 27-year-old third baseman is now batting .400 (10-for-25) with five RBIs and two homers to start the month.
"September's the time to step up or shut up," said Frazier. "You forget about what's been going on during the year, and you just have to keep striving to get better. It's a long season. People [have] got to understand that. It's been a fun month so far for the Reds."
Cincinnati has won three straight, and five of its first seven games in September. The Reds have done so by taking three of four from the Cardinals and, combined with Friday's 3-2 win, the first two against the Dodgers.
"I guess people can get off our backs about beating good teams," said Frazier.
Hamilton's winning tally came three innings after Cesar Izturis tied the game with an RBI double. Making his first start in almost three weeks in place of second baseman Brandon Phillips (quad), Izturis entered the game with just one hit in 20 at-bats since July 28. He notched three of them and scored a run on Saturday, marking his first multi-hit game since July 6.
Batting just .178 for the season before Saturday, Izturis said it's important for him to know his role and not think about anything more than the present when called upon. For the 33-year-old infielder, that hasn't been very often, as the Reds' 143rd game of the season marked only his 57th appearance.
"You've got to be prepared," said Izturis. "Mentally, you've got to be 100 percent every day coming here. Whatever they need you to do, you just go out there and try to do your best. Today was one of those days."
Izturis hit a single in the Reds' second at-bat of the game and came around to score on a Jay Bruce single two batters later. Ludwick followed with an RBI single -- the Reds' fourth consecutive hit of the inning.
Cincinnati's lead wouldn't last long, though. After right-hander Mat Latos gave up a run in the top of the first, he allowed a single to A.J. Ellis to open the second. Two batters later, Puig drilled a two-run, line-drive homer to put the Dodgers on top, 3-2.
Latos settled down following the second inning, blanking the Dodgers for the next five innings to end his day. He worked around three singles in the fourth, which ended after Bruce collected an Adrian Gonzalez single in right field and threw to catcher Devin Mesoraco, eventually leading to Greinke being caught in a rundown between third and home.
Despite surrendering nine hits for the second straight outing, Latos lasted seven innings and walked just one batter -- while striking out three -- en route to the no-decision.
"[Latos has] learned how to pitch without his best stuff and how to battle," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "He's got to stay healthy, because he's only going to get better."
The Reds had a golden opportunity to give Latos a lead in the fifth, when two singles and a walk loaded the bases with one out. However, two strikeouts later, the inning came to a close without the Reds cashing in.
Cincinnati didn't threaten in the eighth, after Izturis tied the game in the previous inning. But pinch-hitter Chris Heisey earned a walk to start the ninth. Although it appeared to be an opportune time to bring in Hamilton, Baker wanted to wait.
"I haven't seen Hamilton play outfield yet," said Baker. "If I had gotten down to Ludwick's spot, I didn't want to put the kid in [during] that situation. And, I was going to bunt him over anyway, and Heisey has plenty of speed."
Bruce flied out to end the ninth before J.J. Hoover pitched a scoreless 10th to set up the combination of Hamilton and Frazier.
Saturday's game continued an entire week that has created a playoff-like atmosphere, as the Reds try to keep pace with the second-place Cardinals and first-place Pirates in the National League Central.
"It's going to be like that from now on," said Baker. "I was just thinking in the dugout, I hope these guys get used to it and like it. You can't get that high any other place except here on the baseball field."