For the first time in the series, the Reds did not get off to an eight-run lead. They only needed two in taking the series with a 4-3 win. The Reds are 37-37 with the season's numerical halfway point seven games away.
With 2012 Cy Young winner R.A Dickey pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays and Johnny "Beisbol" Cueto pitching for the Reds both teams knew runs would be at a premium. They'd have to earn them.
Two days before his 52nd birthday Bryan Price asked for two outings from his starters of at least seven innings to save his overworked bullpen.
Mike Leake and Cueto wrapped the present, game and series in a bow and handed it to their manager.
"Leaker and Johnny really picked up our bullpen," said Price on his 52nd birthday. "Someone is taking care of me. I don't know if it's my mom sending good vibes."
Well maybe not earn them. The Reds scored an unearned run in the first but fell seven runs short of the leads in the previous two games.
The Reds kicked, dropped and threw the ball away in the Toronto third.
Joey Votto's toss to Cueto covering on a ground ball sailed over Cueto's head all the way to the plate. Melky Cabrera singled. Jose Bautista reached to load the bases when Cueto fumbled his nubber to the thirdbase side of the mound and threw late. Encarnacion hit a flair to shallow left that appeared to be a bloop hit but Zack Cozart caught up to it. Colby Rasmus singled to plate two unearned runs.
"After that play I knew I had to get a groundball," said Cueto through interpreter Tomas Vera. "I felt better. I kept the ball down and was more aggressive."
The Blue Jays needed replacements for two players. Starting secondbaseman Brett Lawrie was hit by a Cueto pitch and left the game with a fractured index finger. Bautista felt tightness in his left leg and will have an MRI on Monday in Toronto.
Jay Bruce doubled off the glove of Bautista's replacement in right, Steve Tolleson, an infielder by trade. Tolleson dove for the ball in vain. Ryan Ludwick singled sharply to center, his second hit, sending Bruce to third. When Brayan Pena hit into a well executed double play in which Lawrie's replacement, Jose Reyes robbed Pena of a hit as Bruce scored the first earned run of the game.
Cueto opened the fifth with a slow roller that eluded Dickey, who rolled himself trying to field it. Skip Schumaker bunted to Dickey and Cueto reached second. Frazier hit a fly to right that carried into the stands for his team-leading 17th home run. Cueto started to run, then went back to the base to tag, but the ball carried into the stands. Cueto limped around the bases and visited with trainers in the clubhouse but came back out to pitch.
"A knuckleball is pretty hard to hit," Frazier said. "It was crazy it was 2-0. I didn't think I hit it enough to get out."
"I went back to tag on the ball Frazier hit,m" Cueto said. "I made a quick step and felt it. It was just a cramp."
Frazier homered off Dickey on August 15, 2012 in the Reds 6-1 win during the pitcher's Cy Young Award season with the New York Mets.
"I hit that one off the boat. You remember those," said Frazier.
Cueto breezed through the sixth and seventh but old pal Edwin Encarnacion hit his Major League leading 23rd home run of the season and third of the series to make it a one run game.
Cueto struck out two of the next three batters including former teammate Juan Francisco on a called third strike on a 3-2 pitch to end the eighth.
The Reds bullpen needed another long outing by a starter and got just that.
Arolidis Chapman worked the ninth, striking out all three batters in the inning to earn his 13th save.
Brandon Phillips left the game in the fifth inning with a bruised heal. He hit his heal with the bat on a backswing in the third inning.
"Those things are the types of things we deal with every day as a manager," Price said. "You have to protect your players you can't take them out every time those things happened. After watching him in the field, I decided he couldn't play with it. He didn't want to come out. Cueto's was just a cramp. Even then you have to be careful he doesn't hurt something else."