Speed kills. Billy Hamilton provided the foot speed and Homer Bailey spun the radar gun to allow the Reds to beat the Cardinals for the third straight time, 1-0.
Hamilton's debut netted his first Major League stolen base and run scored. Running for Ryan Ludwick who opened the seventh inning with a single against Seth Maness, Hamilton stole secondbase. After missing on two bunt attempts, Todd Frazier doubled down the leftfield line to break the scoreless deadlock.
"I didn't put him in to paint," Dusty Baker said after the game. Maness threw over four times before Hamilton took off. "Molina is the best catcher in baseball. He almost had him but the throw was high and to the right but that's what speed does.
Hamilton was all grins with the base behind him in the chair in the Reds' clubhouse after the game.
"I knew that Maness is pretty quick to the plate so I had to get a good lead. It helped that he threw over three times.," said Hamilton, whose mother Billy was in the stands. "I had to get to second in some kind of way. Doing it in front of my mom was the best feeling ever. It's my job, stealing bases."
Maness threw over three times before Hamilton took off.
"Everybody in the world knows what Billy Hamilton has done in the minor leagues," Baker said. "They wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't. It was no secret. I thought about bunting but I said, 'hey man, give him a chance to steal.' Then we had a couple of bad bunts. I was hoping it wouldn't come back to haunt us. That was a tough team to shut out."
Homer Bailey has shut out the Cardinals over his last 14-1/3 innings. He retired the last 14 batters he faced on Tuesday. He pitched out of a first and second, no out situation in the first inning, then cruised the last six.
Bailey evened his record at 10-10 by pitching seven scoreless innings, allowing just two singles to Matt Carpenter with eight strikeouts
Michael Wacha matched Bailey, allowing just three hits and two walks in six innings. He left after the sixth inning.
"It was a good ballgame," Baker said. "Both teams played good defense. We hit some balls hard. They hit some balls hard. Both pitchers were dealing out there. I didn't want to take Homer out and he didn't want to come out but he threw a lot of pitches. I'm glad that we scored in that inning."
Aroldis Chapman entered the game for his first appearance since August 24; a period of seven games.
Chapman had to get Carlos Beltan, Matt Holliday and Allen Craig to earn his 34th save.
"It didn't look like the rest hurt Chapman," Baker said. "He's been working. We hope he works the next couple of days. The last save situation was when Sam LeCure saved the game after Chapman pitched two innings. It is a tribute to Chapman and the guys in the bullpen. He has to keep his mind ready. I didn't like to pick a guy who had been off a week to pitch in a one-run game. I was hoping we'd have some cushion, especially with who they had up."
Beltran struck out swinging. Holliday struck out flailing at a high and outside pitch. It was the Cardinals' cleanup hitters fourth strikeout of the game. Craig took a close 1-2 pitch before swinging through strike three.
The Reds closed to within a game and a half of the second place Cardinals.
"It was a playoff atmosphere. I hope we get used to that," Baker said.