The Cincinnati Reds bullpen nearly gave away a 6-2 lead, but Aroldis Chapman slammed the door in the ninth to give them a 6-5 victory at Great American Ballpark over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.
The Reds (28-32) snapped a three-game losing streak while the Phillies (25-35) have lost seven of their last eight. Alfredo Simon (8-3) continued to stay at top the NL wins list as he tossed six innings allowing three runs. Roberto Hernandez (2-4) lasted just four innings, allowing four runs on four hits and three walks.
Billy Hamilton set the tone with a walk in the first inning and then swiped his 23rd stolen base of the season. Three batters later Hamilton scored on a sac fly by Jay Bruce to give the Reds an early 1-0 lead. That lead was quickly erased in the second inning when Marlon Byrd hit a line drive two-run homer that just cleared the left field wall. Todd Frazier answered with a lead-off homer to tie the game at two in bottom half of the inning.
Both pitchers tossed scoreless third innings, but the fourth inning belonged to the Reds. Frazier singled to the inning and then stole the Reds third base against the combo of Hernandez and Carlos Ruiz. That set up an RBI double by Zack Cozart to make it a 3-2 game. Cozart scored on a sacrifice fly by Hamilton to push the lead to two. Cincinnati ended its scoring in the fifth when Bruce hit a two-run homer off Ethan Martin to make it a 6-2 contest.
The Phillies tried to mount a comeback in the sixth when Ruiz homered to start the inning. Dominic Brown tired to cut even further into that lead when he doubled in the gap to right center. Byrd, who was on first, was sent home, but the Reds strung together a perfect relay from Hamilton to Brandon Phillips to Devin Mesoraco for the out at home to end the inning. There was a review to determine whether or not Mesoraco violated the new rule that forces a catcher to leave a clear path for the runner to reach home. After the review, it was determined that Mesoraco was blocking home within the rules and Byrd was out at home, much to the dissatisfaction of Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg, who was immediately ejected when he came out to argue.
Philadelphia tried its comeback again in the seventh when J.J. Hoover gave up a two-run homer to Jimmy Rollins. Manny Parra came on in relief and walked Ruiz, then gave up a double to Chase Utley. Not learning from their mistakes, the Phillies once again sent the runner from first to score on the double, but the relay of Hamilton to Phillips to Mesoraco once again was detrimental to the Phillies offense as Mesoraco made a fine tag on Ruiz after the throw from Phillips pulled him up the third base line.
Jonathan Broxton worked a scoreless eighth and Chapman struck out Rollins to notch his eighth save of the season and send the Reds home winners. Cincinnati finishes the season series with the Phillies hoping for a split as David Buchanan (1-2, 6.11 ERA) faces Homer Bailey (6-3, 4.99 ERA) in a Sunday matinee.