The toughest part about Sam LeCure's major league debut was the drive from Louisville.
LeCure pitched like he's been in the major league's all of his life. On a day his Louisville teammates were no hit by the Gwinnet Braves, LeCure enjoyed 14 runs in support of his six inning effort.
LeCure, who was pick in the fourth round of the 2005 draft, allowed a first inning home run to the hot hitting Hunter Pence but scattered five singles and four walks. He skillfully walked Reds' killer, Lance Berkman, three times, including one intentionally.
"I know Lance Berkman will be in the Hall of Fame someday but Pence has been swinging the hottest bat. We were more focused on him," LeCure said. "The only thing I wasn't happy about was the walks."
The game was tied at two when LeCure was ordered to walk Berkman intentionally. LeCure got Pedro Feliz to hit into a 5-4-3 double play.
"I was able to make a good pitch there. You want to make the manager look smart after an intentional walk," LeCure said.
"That was big," Dusty Baker said. "The swept St. Louis a week or two ago, they have some dangerous hitter. LeCure kept the ball down and threw good pitches when he needed to. He disguised his pitches well. They all looked like the same pitch coming out of his hand."
The debut was a success with 30 family members among the 30,813 in attendence.
"I was more shaky in the bullpen, trying to harness my emotions," LeCure said.
Brandon Phillips, Jonny Gomes and Miguel Cairo, who replaced the ailing Joey Votto for the third straight game, did the offensive work.
Phillips homered and singled twice. Gomes hit a triple in the first inning, a two-run home run in the third, walked in the fourth and singled home a run in the sixth. Cairo started the game Thursday with a .216 average but with two single pumped that up to .298.
LeCure held off the Astros until Drew Sutton, covering Paul Janish's bereavement leave, pinch hit for his Triple A teammate with the bases loaded in the sixth. He lined a shot down the leftfield line for his first career pinch hit home run and grand slam. It is the first pinch hit grand slam for Cincinnati since Jason LaRue did it in Atlanta off Dan Kolb on September 4, 2005.
Gomes needed a double to become the first Red player since Eric Davis to hit for the cycle, one of each type of hit, in 1989. It is kind of a goofy anomoly that doesn't really mean a whole lot but it is a rare occurence.
With relief pitcher, Mike Lincoln on firstbase, Gomes lined a hit to left. He made a wide turn as if he was running for the double but Lincoln stopped at secondbase. Gomes now has had four hits in a game for the fourth time in his career, the last coming on September 15, 2008 with Tampa Bay at Seattle.
"I'll take the win over the cycle any day. That's for sure," Gomes said. "I've never pitched but it's got to be easier to pitch with a lead. We try to do that everyday."
Gomes is hitting .423 in his last 20 games with five home runs and 20 RBI.
"We talked to Jonny all year about being a hitter and not just a slugger," Baker said.
In Louisville, Matt Maloney, who was considered to make the start tonight, pitched well allowing two runs in 7 2/3 but his teammates were no hit by Todd Redmond of the Gwinnett Braves......Colerain and University of Cincinnati grad, Dan Osterbrock won his first game since being promoted to High A at Ft. Myers. The lefty pitched 6 2/3 innings of one hit basebll in the Twins farm team's 6-0 win over Brevard County. He is now 1-4 in five starts with a 4.20 ERA.