CINCINNATI -- In recent years for the Reds, Billy Hamilton has drawn criticism for not drawing enough walks. On Saturday, in Game 1 of a day-night doubleheader vs. the Cubs, Hamilton drew the best type of walk -- a walk-off walk.Hamilton's bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 11th inning
CINCINNATI -- In recent years for the Reds, Billy Hamilton has drawn criticism for not drawing enough walks. On Saturday, in Game 1 of a day-night doubleheader vs. the Cubs, Hamilton drew the best type of walk -- a walk-off walk.
Hamilton's bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 11th inning was the difference in a 5-4 victory over Chicago. The game was a hard-fought win as Cincinnati twice relinquished leads and missed big chances -- and the tilt also included a bench-clearing incident in the seventh inning.
Facing Cubs reliever Justin Wilson in the 11th, Scott Schebler led off with a walk and advanced to second base on a single to right-center field by Tucker Barnhart. Adam Duvall's walk loaded the bases with no outs for Hamilton. Cubs manager Joe Maddon made a mound visit to strategize and ordered an alignment with five infielders.
Wilson didn't give them a chance to make a play, as he walked Hamilton on five pitches to end the game.
"If he was going to throw a strike at me, I had to put the ball in play," Hamilton said. "It didn't happen that way, but it's kind of tough when you see a five-man infield and you see two guys playing up the middle. Then you start thinking a little bit in your head, like, 'Man, I've got to do something different.' But then you have to relax, have fun and he didn't give me a pitch where I could hit the ball. So I mean, they say walk-off and I'll take a walk to walk-off."
Hamilton, who is batting .209 with a .304 on-base percentage, hit a one-out double to represent the go-ahead run in the bottom of the ninth, but Pedro Strop struck out Tony Cruz and Jose Peraza to force extras. In the sixth inning, after the Reds took a 4-2 lead on Scooter Gennett's RBI single and Eugenio Suarez's RBI double with no outs, they couldn't get a ball out of the infield. Hamilton's strikeout vs. lefty Randy Rosario ended that rally.
The Reds were 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and they stranded 10. The Cubs were 1-for-16 and and left 14 on base.
"It felt, even when we were winning the game, that we had missed a couple of chances -- one of those where we let some chances go by," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "We felt like that might haunt us, and sure enough, it did."
Amir Garrett pitched the seventh and came away scoreless despite a leadoff walk. The benches cleared after Garrett became animated from the mound upon striking out Javier Baez. There were no punches thrown and no ejections.
Despite still having a second game to play in the evening, Riggleman sent closer Raisel Iglesias to attempt a six-out save with a two-run lead in the eighth.
"I was trying to save some guys for the next game," Riggleman explained. "The option would have been to let Amir go a little further, but we've been wearing him out pretty good, so I just felt it was better to make the move there."
On a 3-2, 98-mph fastball from Iglesias, Ian Happ led off with a home run to left field to make it a one-run game. It ended a scoreless streak of 9 1/3 innings over 10 appearances for Iglesias. Chicago kept the pressure applied with Thomas La Stella's pinch-hit single. Anthony Rizzo evened the game with a two-out RBI double to center field to hand Iglesias his second blown save in 10 attempts this season.
It was the second time the Cubs tied the game. Chicago had knotted it at 2 against reliever David Hernandez in the top of the sixth when pitcher Kyle Hendricks crushed an RBI double to the center-field wall to score Happ.
"With all the stuff happening during the middle of the game, we were up and then we were down," Hamilton said. "There were some things that happened during the game that got us pretty motivated. It was a battle. It's always going to be a battle when you play the Cubs. Just glad we came out on top in the end, and that's what it's all about. It's about winning."
Reds starter Luis Castillo went five innings, stiking out four and walking five.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gennett provides lead, twice: Cincinnati capitalized in the bottom of the sixth when Peraza led off and reached on shortstop Addison Russell's fielding error, followed by Joey Votto's four-pitch walk. Gennett, who already hit an RBI single in the first inning, rolled a seeing-eye single through the middle to score Peraza and snap a 2-2 tie.
Gennett has a four-game hitting streak, during which he's 7-for-16 (.438). He also has hits in eight of his past 10 games to raise his overall average to .329.
Saturday's Game 1 win marked the Reds' first walk-off walk since a 10-inning, 7-6 win against the Padres on April 26, 2003, when Ruben Mateo was walked by Luther Hackman to score Adam Dunn.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Garrett struck out Baez to end the top of the seventh and let out a scream on the mound. The often-animated Baez took exception to the excitement shown and approached Garrett. The two exchanged words, and the benches cleared.
"It's just part of the game. He does stuff and nobody says anything," Garrett said. "You just have to take it. Guys pimp home runs off me all the time. I just take it with a grain of salt. I just have to come back and give it my all and try to get the guy out."
HE SAID IT
"It's a great feeling for me. Last year [with the Cubs], I came in when things were down by a lot of runs. To be in a ballgame and actually feel like you're battling for a 'W' is a great feeling. It's a different feeling." -- Reds reliever and former Cub Dylan Floro, who notched his first big league win with the final two scoreless innings
"We had to save a couple of guys for that second game today, so nobody else was going to pitch. It was his ballgame the rest of the way, and he did a great job." -- Riggleman, on Floro
Sal Romano gets the start for Game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader against the Cubs. He'll try to rebound from the short outing he had in San Francisco in a 10-7 loss, in which he gave up a career-high six earned runs over 2 1/3 innings. Jose Quintana will start for Chicago.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.