Shin-Soo Choo singled past a drawn-in outfield in the 10th inning to give the Reds a 3-2 win over the New York Mets.
The Reds squandered several chances to score multiple runs off Aaron Harang and seven members of the Mets' bullpen. The Reds stranded 15 base runners, twice leaving the bases loaded.
Choo made sure the 10th inning chance wasn't wasted.
Devin Mesoraco singled off the glove of Mets' thirdbaseman David Wright with one out in the 10th off Greg Burke. Defensive replacement Derrick Robinson hit a high chopper over the head of firstbaseman Lucas Duda, sending Mesoraco to third.
The Mets brought in a left-hander to face Choo as they drew the outfield in to cut off a hit to the shallow part of the outfield, giving up the fly deep enough to score Mesoraco. Choo hit a fly that bounced on the warning track for a single to win the game.
"My numbers aren't good with a left-hander on the mound, but I have confidence in myself," said Choo, who came into the game hitting .201 against left-handed pitching. "I followed my approach."
Choo missed two games in Pittsburgh with a jammed thumb from sliding into firstbase headfirst on Friday night.
"I was happy to get back and contribute," Choo said. "These are important games."
Washington lost to St. Louis and Pittsburgh won at Chicago. All three Central Division teams clinched at least a Wild Card spot. All three have a chance to win the Division.
"I was hoping the Nationals would win," said Dusty Baker, even though Washington's loss meant the Reds are a definite playoff team. "We still want to win the division."
There was no celebration.
"This is my first time in the playoffs," Choo said. "We want to win the division."
Johnny Cueto pitched very well for seven innings and built his pitch count up to 99.
"Cueto was excellent," Baker said. "He should have given up just the one run. Each time he goes out there, he gets his endurance up."
Cueto left the playoffs last season after throwing just eight pitches. He would like to make the playoff roster after making his second start since coming off the disabled list for the second time this season.
"I feel good. My velocity, everything is there," Cueto said. "I talked to Dusty about pitching the eighth inning but he said, 'No, no that's enough. I don't know what they are going to do with me for the playoffs. That is up to them to decide."
The Reds scored two runs in the second inning.
Todd Frazier led off with a double to the gap in right-center. Zack Cozart flew out to shallow center. Ryan Hanigan single sharply to center. Frazier was held at third. Reds' starter Johnny Cueto popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt. Shin-Soo Choo singled to center to drive in his 53rd run of the year. Brandon Phillips walked to load the bases. Joey Votto drew the second of his career-high five walks to force Hanigan home. Votto tied Joe Morgan's team record with 132 walks for the season.
Duda hit a solo home run with the bases empty and two outs in the sixth.
The Reds threatened in the eighth. Ryan Hanigan singled with two out. Billy Hamilton was put on first base as the pinch runner. Hamilton ran on the first move by Mets' pitcher Frank Francisco, who delivered the pitch to Chris Heisey. Catcher Travis d'Arnaud rushed to make the throw but missed the ball that hit home plate umpire Brian Gorman in a painful spot. The inning ended when Heisey struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch.
The Reds missed a golden opportunity to win it in the ninth.
Tim Byrdak started the inning for New York. Byrdak while pitching for the Houston Astros, gave up a the Jay Bruce home run that clinched the Reds' division title in 2010. Choo doubled to start the inning. David Aardsma replaced Byrdak. Aardsma had inherited 18 base runners and none of them have scored. Phillips squared to bunt but let the pitch go. Catcher d'Arnaud threw to second but Choo took off for third reaching without a throw. The Mets pulled the infield in. Phillips grounded weakly to Omar Quintanilla at short for the first out. Votto got his record setting walk intentionally, tying a team record for walks in a game for the third time. Ludwick missed for the second time with the bases loaded. The Reds' leftfielder popped to second. Bruce was walked intentionally. Frazier lined out to center on a 2-2 pitch. Aardsma has now stranded all 19 baserunners he has inherited, the most in the major leagues without allowing one to score.
"Choo got caught in no-man's land," Baker said. "Mr. Choo has a very high baseball I.Q. and is very intelligent besides baseball. He had the presence of time to keep going. Most guys stop."
Choo felt lucky.
"It was my mistake. You don't want to get thrown out at third. I got lucky," Choo said.
|Professionally edited by ML Schirmer|
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