Phillips backs Arroyo with clutch hit on special day
CINCINNATI -- Brandon Phillips wanted the big hit for the Reds against the Phillies for a few reasons on Monday night. First and foremost, his team had a five-game losing streak it needed to snap. And with the No. 42 on his back to honor Jackie Robinson, the legend occupied Phillips' mind as well.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, Phillips came through with a tie-breaking two-run single that gave the Reds a 4-2 win.
"For me to a get a game-winning hit also on this day, it gets no better than that," Phillips said.
Against Phillies lefty reliever Jeremy Horst, Derrick Robinson was pinch-hitting for Bronson Arroyo and tapped the ball to left of the mound for an infield single. Following a Shin-Soo Choo sacrifice bunt, Zack Cozart blooped a double out of the grasp of right fielder Laynce Nix's sliding-catch attempt. An intentional walk to Joey Votto loaded the bases.
"I told Brandon, 'You're going to win the game,'" Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Facing righty Mike Adams, Phillips hit a 1-2 pitch on the ground to the right side through lunging second baseman Freddy Galvis, plating two runs and breaking the 2-2 tie.
"He kept the ball up a little bit," Phillips said. "He threw some great pitches. I just went with the pitch and took what he gave me. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't. I'm just glad we won today, especially on Jackie Robinson Day."
Fittingly, it was Robinson -- also wearing No. 42 like every player in baseball on this day -- who scored the go-ahead run, followed by Cozart. In 1997, under the direction of Commissioner Bud Selig, Robinson's No. 42 was retired across all of Major League Baseball in an unprecedented tribute.
"That was apropos -- that he won it with his legs and scored the winning run," Baker said of Robinson. "That was big. I don't know many Robinsons that play baseball."
The flurry of six runs scored over the seventh and eighth innings dusted over a brilliant pitchers' duel between Arroyo and Phillies lefty Cliff Lee. The two pitchers briskly exchanged zeros for the first six innings. Arroyo had only 69 pitches to that point, and Lee had 67.
With the Reds bullpen gassed during the losing streak, Arroyo knew Baker wanted a long outing.
"He said that he needed me bad," said Arroyo, who gave up two runs and five hits over eight innings with no walks and three strikeouts. "I assumed that meant go deep in the ballgame and have a 'W' next to our name at the end of the night.
"Cliff was doing what he always does, which was throwing a lot strikes and having quick innings. That made it a little bit easier for me to go back out there and not get too cool. The first five innings cruised by really quickly and after that, I really didn't know what we were going to get."
Lee and the Phillies had the look of a team poised to extend the Reds' misery. In the bottom of the second, center fielder Ben Revere robbed Todd Frazier with a spectacular diving catch at the warning track in right-center. Jay Bruce had taken off from first, thinking it was a hit, and he was doubled up trying to return.
"You're trying not to think, 'Here we go again,'" Baker said.
Paydirt finally came in the bottom of the seventh following a Votto single and Phillips double. In the plate appearance of the night, Bruce dueled Lee after falling into a 0-2 count. On a 1-2 pitch, Bruce was nearly out on a checked swing. An appeal to third base umpire Cory Blaser was unsuccessful.
"Wasn't even close. He swung," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He swung at the ball. That was an out for us."
On a 2-2 count, Lee threw a wild pitch that allowed Votto to slide home with the game's first run. Bruce would work a 10-pitch walk, which was especially significant since Lee hadn't walked a batter since Sept. 17. It ended a streak of 169 batters over 44 2/3 innings.
"If they could all be like that, we'd hit a ton," Baker said. "He stayed off some bad pitches, fouled off some pitches, broke three bats. That was a heck of an at-bat. I'm urging my guys to have those kinds of at-bats, where you keep fighting them, fighting them and fighting them."
A Frazier sacrifice fly followed Bruce and added the second run but the Phillies' end of the fight was not over. Chase Utley delivered with a two-out, two-run homer to right-center field against Arroyo as a pinch-hitter. It took Lee off of the hook before Phillips and company ruined Philadelphia's night an inning later.