HOUSTON -- There was no inclination to let up once the Reds plated a hard-earned run and took the lead in the 11th inning of Friday's 4-2 win against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.Instead, they ratcheted up the aggression. Ramon Cabrera dropped down a flawless suicide-squeeze bunt, scoring Eugenio
HOUSTON -- There was no inclination to let up once the Reds plated a hard-earned run and took the lead in the 11th inning of Friday's 4-2 win against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
Instead, they ratcheted up the aggression. Ramon Cabrera dropped down a flawless suicide-squeeze bunt, scoring Eugenio Suarez and doubling Cincinnati's lead with a valuable insurance run.
"It was a lot easier to squeeze there with a one-run lead than with the whole game sitting in the balance, so it was a nice add-on run, and Ramon did a great job getting the bunt down," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Price knew the top of the Astros' lineup was coming up in the 11th, so he wasn't willing to bet on a one-run lead holding up.
He also knew that Pat Neshek's side-winding motion and the Houston defense, which had swallowed up nearly everything hit to the spacious outfield, would make it tough on Cabrera.
"[The bunt] seemed to me at the time to be a better option," Price said. "Otherwise, you have to hit a ball through a drawn-in infield, with three outfielders who throw well, so even a fly ball doesn't guarantee you're going to score the run. There weren't a lot of holes in the outfield tonight. Between [Carlos] Gomez, [George] Springer and [Colby] Rasmus, you put the ball in the air, and unless it's smoked, it has no chance of getting down.
"With a lead there, it was a lot easier [call] than in a tie game."
The rare play, which Price emphasized was absolutely of the suicide variety -- not a safety squeeze -- was the culmination of an aggressive inning all around.
Neshek entered the frame having allowed just four hits in 45 at-bats to right-handed batters in 2016, for a dominant .089 batting average against him.
Adam Duvall and Suarez jumped on Neshek early in the count, needing just three combined pitches to record the first consecutive hits by right-handed batters against him this season.
After Duvall singled to right, Suarez smothered Neshek's first pitch into the left-field corner for a go-ahead RBI double, and Duvall was aiming for home the entire way.
"I was hoping it would kick off pretty hard off the wall," Duvall said. "[Rasmus] was kind of underneath where the ball bounced. I just had my eye on him when it kicked and I hauled around.
"I was just glad I scored. That's a long way for a big boy like me."
It might have been easy for the Reds to rest on their laurels after pushing one run across, especially in a low-scoring affair.
They opted instead for one of baseball's delightful surprises, executing it to precision. Suarez was about three-quarters of the way home by the time Neshek fielded Cabrera's bunt along the first-base side. He never had a chance.
"A perfectly executed squeeze to get that second run, which really did play big with the Astros getting two guys on in the bottom of the 11th," Price said.
Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston.