The Cincinnati Reds wrapped of their three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday at Great American Ballpark with a 4-3 victory to claim their first ever series win against MLB's lone team north of the border.
The Reds (37-37) offense was on high gear all series scoring 24 runs and despite Friday's epic collapse that led to their 15-9 defeat, Cincinnati outscored the Jays (42-35) 24-19. Johnny Cueto (7-5) followed Mike Leake's strong outing to rest a bullpen that allowed 10 runs on Friday. Cueto did battle cramps while running the bases, but fared better than Brandon Phillips (bruised heel), Jose Bautista (tightness in knee) and Brett Lawrie (broken finger) who all had to leave Sunday's contest.
Cincinnati got some help for its first run against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (6-6) as Edwin Encarnacion missed a catch at first that would have ended the inning. Instead Jay Bruce was able to single home Todd Frazier, but Phillips was easily thrown out trying to advance to third to end the inning.
The Reds returned the favor in the third as Joey Votto led the inning off with a throwing error and then Cueto loaded the bases with a throwing error of his own on a sac bunt attempt by Bautista. Colby Rasmus singled home a pair and the Blue Jays took their only lead of the game 2-1.
Bruce set up the tying run with his leadoff double in the fourth as he came in to score when Brayan Pena hit into a double play. Cueto helped himself with a bunt single in the fifth and scored on a homer by Frazier, his 17th of the season. Frazier had to walk around the bases as Cueto was dealing with cramps.
The score stayed that way until the eighth when Encarnacion just cleared the left field wall for his MLB best 24th homer of the season. He drove in seven runs and hit three homers over the weekend against his former club. Encarnacion was traded to Toronto in 2009 for fellow third baseman Scott Rolen.
Aroldis Chapman rebounded from his worst outing of the season two days before and struck out the side to pick up his 13th save of the season. Saturday the Reds called up Carlos Contreras to help the overworked pen and he worked one inning of scoreless relief in his MLB debut. Jumbo Diaz was also called up to help, but allowed three runs on Friday in his lone inning of work. To make room for the new arms, Cincinnati optioned Tony Cingrani and Roger Bernadina. The Reds also moved Sean Marshall to the 60-DL as he could be out for the rest of the season after he has surgery on his throwing shoulder.
The Reds will now hit the road for ten straight games as they start with a series against the last place Cubs. Chicago (31-42) is coming off a series loss against Pittsburgh (37-38), but are 9-4 this month against teams that are not the Pirates in the month of June (they are just 2-5 against the Buccos this month). Jeff Samardzija (2-6, 2.60 ERA) will take on the NL league leader in wins, Alfredo Simon (10-3, 3.05 ERA) to start the series on Monday.