Red-hot Winker plates go-ahead run in 10th

Suárez caps series win in Pittsburgh with bases-clearing double

May 12th, 2021

ain't afraid of no ghost … runner.

For the third time this season, Winker won a game for the Reds in extra innings by leading off and driving in the automatic runner stationed on second base. His RBI single in the top of the 10th inning scored Nick Senzel to spark a four-run rally for a 5-1 Cincinnati win over the Pirates on Wednesday afternoon to take the three-game series.

“I just try to simplify it. We have Senzel on second, the fastest guy on our team and one of the fastest guys in the league, a great baserunner," Winker said. "My job there is to move him up to the next base for the guys behind me. That one found a hole, so I was pumped.”

Winker, who leads the National League with a .375 average, led off the 10th inning with a two-run homer for a 5-3 win over the Dodgers on April 26. On May 5, in a 1-0 Reds win over the White Sox, Winker hit a walk-off RBI single as the second hitter of the 10th inning.

On Wednesday in a 1-1 count against reliever Duane Underwood Jr., Winker scorched a ball on the ground into left field.

"He can hit. Just really not fazed by any situation," Reds manager David Bell said. "Not that it’s easy. He works as hard, if not harder than anyone else at it. But he loves to hit, and he’s up for any challenge. He likes his chances against any pitcher, and that confidence goes a long way."

After Winker's hit, the Reds kept the pressure on with a Nick Castellanos single and a Mike Moustakas walk that loaded the bases. Eugenio Suárez delivered a three-run double to center field to break the game open.

According to Statcast, Suárez had the hardest-hit ball of the day on that double with 111.5 mph exit velocity.

“Definitely one of my best swings I put on in this series," Suárez said. “I know that was a big at-bat. I am glad to hit that and help my team win the game. I knew right away. I just try to put the ball in play every single time. And I did a really good job with a sinker away, and I put my best swing on it. We scored four runs in that inning and won the game, nice.”

The Reds, who are 17-17 overall, are 6-2 in extra innings this season, with the automatic runner scoring all eight times. They are the only club in the Major Leagues to play at least five extra-inning games this season and score in all of the 10th innings.

"I think the key in most cases is not being satisfied with scoring one run, although you take that and that’s very important to score one," Bell said. "But we’ve been able to add on in those spots. Several good at-bats in that inning, and obviously the big blow was Geno coming through with the three-RBI double. That was very important to him. That changed everything, because obviously, they start with a runner on second, too, and getting that cushion is really important."

Reds reliever Heath Hembree was tapped to pitch the bottom of the 10th inning, and he retired the side in order to leave the automatic runner stranded.

It was a banner afternoon for the bullpen at PNC Park. Following Sonny Gray's departure in the fifth inning of a 1-1 game, Tejay Antone, Sean Doolittle, Lucas Sims and Hembree combined for nine strikeouts over 5 1/3 perfect innings.

"It gave us the opportunity to be able to win it," Bell said. "Tenth inning, our offense came through, but we wouldn’t have been in that situation without our pitching."