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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Reds Use Speed To Beat Dodgers In Extra Innings

Billy Hamilton is a born thief.  The speedy Mississippi native pilfered his fourth base in as many tries.

The minor-league base-stealing sensation did it again on Saturday, entering Cincinnati's game in the 10th inning as a pinch-runner, stealing second and scoring the game-winning run on Todd Frazier's single, helping the Reds beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3.

"I got a good jump, and I knew I had a good chance (of scoring)," said Hamilton, who's scored the game-winning run on a Frazier hit after a stolen base as a pinch-runner twice during the homestand. He also came off the bench to score the game-tying run on a Zack Cozart single in the 14th inning of Cincinnati's 5-4, 16-inning loss to St. Louis on Wednesday - the Reds' only loss in the first six games of the 10-day stay. "My job was to score at all costs. Everybody knows that's what I'm here for," Hamilton said.

Ryan Ludwick opened the Cincinnati 10th with a leadoff walk against Brian Wilson (1-1). Reds' manager Dusty Baker then went to the dynamic Hamilton, and the speedy prospect took second as catcher A.J. Ellis dropped the ball while taking it out of his glove.

"Hamilton is a battle," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "We had a shot there, though. If A.J. gets the ball out of his glove it would have been close."

Mattingly discussed the scenario before the game.  "We just have to keep him off base," Mattingly said.  But Dusty Baker cheats.  He waits until Ludwick gets on, then inserts Hamilton.

For the second time this week, Todd Frazier followed Hamilton's act with a key hit to beat the Dodgers,who won six straight before facing the Reds. J.J. Hoover (4-5) got three outs for the victory.

"We're looking for the sweep," Frazier said. "You try to win every series, but right now, every win is huge. Maybe people can get off our backs about not beating good teams.  It is September.  It is time to put up or shut up.

The Dodgers are now 53-16 since the All-Star break for a whopping .768 winning percentage.  The Dodgers won three of four from the Reds in Los Angeles last month.

"We won three out of four but every one of those games could have gone either way," said Mattingly, who grew up a Reds' fan in Evansville, Indiana.

The Reds said Elias Sport Bureau reported that Hamilton is the first player in major league history to record a stolen base in each of his first four appearances. His next stolen base will tie him with Frazier and Joey Votto for second place in stolen bases.

"There aren't many like him," Baker said about Hamilton, mentioning past base-stealing threats such as Lou Brock and Willie McGee. "Those are guys you know are going to steal, and they steal anyway."

The 22-year-old Hamilton, who set a professional record with 155 steals in the minors last season, has yet to make a plate appearance in the majors, but is 4-for-4 on steal attempts since he was promoted on Monday.

Matt Latos struggled after a complete game victory against the Cardinals. He allowed three runs and nine hits in seven innings for the Reds. He struck out three and walked one.

Yasiel Puig hit a two-run homer for NL West-leading Los Angeles, which has lost three straight. Adrian Gonzalez went 4-for-5 and A.J. Ellis also had two hits.

"Latos has great stuff and we made him battle for outs," Mattingly said.

Dodgers' right-hander Zack Greinke struck out nine in six innings and was in line for his 15th win before Cincinnati rallied in the seventh. Shin-Soo Choo singled with one out and Cesar Izturis followed a run-scoring double against Paco Rodriguez, tying it at 3.

"I was battling," Greinke said. "I was making a bunch of good pitches but they were battling too. They put a bunch of good at-bats together and strung some hits together."

Izturis, starting at second base in place of the injured Brandon Phillips, tied his season high with three hits before flying out in the ninth with the potential game-winning run on second. Choo and Joey Votto had two hits apiece.

"I thought (Izturis) was going to win the game in the ninth," said Baker, who became the third manager in Reds' history to reach 500 wins with the team. "Everybody's a star for a day."

"This was a big game for us," Izturis said. "That's why you prepare every day. I know my role. You've got to be ready."

Greinke allowed eight hits and walked one. He is 11-1 with a 2.13 ERA in his last 15 starts.

The win helped the Reds keep up the pressure on the top two teams in the bunched NL Central. Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Cincinnati are all in position to make the playoffs, but the division race is still very much in the balance.

The Dodgers grabbed the lead in the first when Puig was hit by a pitch, moved up on Gonzalez's single and scored on Hanley Ramirez' single to left.

Cincinnati responded in the bottom half on RBI singles by Jay Bruce and Ludwick.

Puig made it 3-2 in the second with his 15th homer, a drive into the left-field seats on a 2-2 pitch. Ellis was aboard after a leadoff single.

NOTES: Phillips didn't start due to a left quad contusion he suffered on Thursday. Phillips left that game in the seventh inning and was replaced by a pinch runner in the eighth inning on Friday. "It's not here time yet - almost," manager Dusty Baker said. ... Dodgers LHP Hyun-Jim Ryu, scratched from Friday's start with mid-back stiffness, is expected to throw in the bullpen on Sunday, manager Don Mattingly said. He expects the pitcher to start on Wednesday. ... Los Angeles pinch-hitter Jerry Hairston Jr. was ejected from the game after arguing about a called third strike leading off the ninth. ... The Reds unveiled a bronze statue outside Great American Ball Park honoring Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan before Saturday's game. Members of the Big Red Machine, including Pete Rose, joined Morgan on the field at the unveiling and on the field for pregame ceremonies. Rose, who is banned for gambling, got permission from Major League Baseball to appear on the field.

Professionally edited by ML Schirmer
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