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Reds deny no-no but drop opener to Bucs

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PITTSBURGH -- The Reds have now faced the prospect of being no-hit two Fridays in a row. And although they found ways to break up the bids in the late innings, they haven't found a way to avoid the sting of losing the close games.

Cincinnati got a superb performance from Mike Leake, broke up Edinson Volquez's no-hitter in the seventh and took a lead in the top of the eighth, but all of that was rendered moot in the bottom of the eighth, when the Pirates scored two runs off Jonathan Broxton, handing the Reds a 2-1 loss at PNC Park.

It was the Reds' Major League-leading 32nd one-run defeat of the season.

"You've got to keep going out there and battling," said catcher Devin Mesoraco, who got the Reds' first hit and drove in the lone run with his second. "A loss is a loss, I think. It always stinks when you have the lead and you have the opportunity to win. We just weren't able to score enough runs to not be in that situation, and we couldn't hold it down. There's not a lot to say. That's just what happened."

There was one out in the Pittsburgh eighth for Broxton when pinch-hitter Andrew Lambo sharply bounced a ball off first baseman Todd Frazier's glove; it was ruled a single. The next batter, Josh Harrison, delivered his third hit of the night with a triple off the right-field wall that scored the tying run. Jose Tabata followed with a single past drawn-in third baseman Kristopher Negron to plate Harrison with the go-ahead run.

"I got two ground balls that got hits and I got one that was hit off the wall. It's not like they were knocking the cover off the ball," said Broxton, who is now 4-2 with a 1.86 ERA in 51 appearances.

The Reds' bullpen is 0-12 in decisions since the All-Star break, but Broxton has been one of the most dependable relievers. In his last seven games, totaling 6 1/3 innings, he has allowed five earned runs 11 hits and four walks.

"It looked like a couple of pitches that got the inning started … weren't terribly well-located pitches," manager Bryan Price said of Broxton's outing. "One thing he's done as well as anybody on our staff is, he's been good at locating his fastball this year. It's tough. He's been unbelievable this year. This is a blip on the radar, really."

Last Friday at Great American Ball Park, Braves lefty Mike Minor had a no-hitter for 7 2/3 innings before the Reds lost in 12 innings. This time Volquez kept them hitless for six innings despite a poor track record vs. his former club. Volquez entered 1-2 with a 5.86 ERA in five career starts vs. the Reds, and 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA in two 2014 starts.

On the other side, Leake gave up six hits but worked nicely for seven scoreless innings, with no walks and one strikeout.

"It's a tough one," Price said of the outcome. "You had two pitchers that were locked in -- Volquez threw a great game, and Leake matched him."

Leading off the seventh, Mesoraco rolled a single past diving shortstop Jordy Mercer for the Reds' first hit. Jay Bruce followed with a single off the glove of first baseman Ike Davis. Negron grounded to third base, where Harrison made a diving stop and touched the bag with his hand before throwing out Negron at first base for the double play -- causing the rally to fizzle.

"[Harrison] really kind of made a game-saving play on the ball Negron hit down the line," Price said.

Billy Hamilton hit a one-out single off Volquez in the top of the eighth and swiped second base for his 53rd steal of the season. With one out, Volquez hit Brandon Phillips with a pitch. Lefty Tony Watson replaced Volquez and gave up Mesoraco's RBI single to left field, which scored Hamilton. Left fielder Starling Marte misplayed the ball for an error that allowed Phillips to move to third. As the cutoff throw got away from Mercer, Phillips tried to score, but Harrison recovered the ball and threw out Phillips sliding headfirst at the plate.

"It's his read," Price said of Phillips. "[Third-base coach Steve Smith] had stopped him because you can't anticipate that the ball is going to be bobbled out there. … It was a reaction play and a bang-bang play at the plate. I didn't think it was a terrible play by any means."

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{"content":["injury" ] }

Votto dealt setback after taking grounders

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PITTSBURGH -- Plans to get injured first baseman Joey Votto back on the field seemed optimistic earlier this week when he commenced performing some baseball activities.

But on Friday came the news that the distal strain in Votto's left quadriceps did not respond well to taking ground balls on Wednesday at Great American Ball Park.

"It wasn't as good a result as we had hoped," manager Bryan Price revealed. "There was still some fairly significant discomfort when he got lateral side-to-side [movement], so we had to back off with that and stay with some strengthening and whatever the physical therapy protocols are. We hope when we get back there is some marked improvement. He took some light swings [on Thursday] and he'll be able to gradually increase baseball workload based on how he feels."

Votto went on the disabled list with the quad strain for the second time this season on July 8. Last week he began a running program and started taking swings and playing catch on Tuesday.

Recently transferred to the 60-day DL, he is eligible for activation on Sept. 4. With the Reds' hopes for a postseason berth having faded drastically, does the club's place in the standings play a part in the decision of whether he plays again in 2014?

"Well, I think that's a great question. It's a legitimate question," Price said. "The one thing we have to do is get him to the point where he can play. It's a moot point until we get there. We don't know for sure when that time is going to be. That's one thing about this particular injury -- there's no deadline as to when he's supposed to be physically capable of playing without re-injury, which takes us back to square one with the rehab. I think if he gets back to where he can play, he plays. That certainly could change with where we are in the standings and sitting down with Dr. [Tim] Kremchek and making a decision about what's in the best interest of Joey moving forward."

Price was asked if Votto's injury could be chronic and career-threatening.

"I think if there was a concern about this being a long-term thing that could set him back or with him chronically for the rest of his career, we wouldn't be considering playing him in September," he said.

{"content":["injury" ] }

Negron parlays hot hand into more starts

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PITTSBURGH -- The Reds have featured 105 lineups this season, not counting the pitcher's spot, but manager Bryan Price wrote out the same top eight for the third game in a row on Friday. It's only the second time he's done that all season.

"Continuity, wow. It's a new managerial style," Price joked.

Largely because of injuries, Price has used his projected Opening Day lineup just 12 times in 2014.

"You like to have continuity in your lineup, because what that typically represents is productivity -- health, No. 1, productivity, No. 2," he said. "We haven't had any true continuity for the bulk of the season."

For the fourth straight game and fifth time in six games, rookie utility player Kristopher Negron started at third base, with Todd Frazier moved to first. Negron has had a hot hand lately at the plate, and has also played good defense.

"It's a great opportunity for Kris," Price said. "He's given us a boost. It's not necessarily statistical stuff, it's from an energy perspective. It's like you're playing with fresh legs."

Negron, 28, logged 3,250 Minor League at-bats and played four Major League games for the Reds in June 2012. Shortly after returning to Triple-A Louisville, he sustained a catastrophic injury to his right knee while playing left field, and he didn't get back to the big leagues until July 10 of this season.

"It feels great to get this opportunity. Coming off the knee surgery, I wasn't sure I would come back healthy enough to get the opportunity again," Negron said. "I'm very lucky and grateful. I just try to play hard every day and be a sparkplug still."

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Simon gets the start for Cincy against Bucs' Worley

Playoff berth still within reach for Pirates; Simon starts for Cincy

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Simon gets the start for Cincy against Bucs' Worley play video for Simon gets the start for Cincy against Bucs' Worley

A little more than a week ago, the Pirates had hit a roadblock. They had lost seven straight and fallen to third place in the National League Central, seven games back.

But hope remained, as Pittsburgh sat only two games out of the second NL Wild Card spot. Six wins in the next eight contests have only provided more optimism, as the Bucs have shrunk their division deficit and are even closer to that Wild Card berth.

The Pirates are well aware that they sit within striking distance of their second consecutive playoff appearance, but they also know they cannot overcome these deficits all at once.

"We can't win 20 games from just playing one," reigning NL Most Valuable Player Andrew McCutchen said. "We have to win today, that's what it's all about."

The next "today" belongs to Vance Worley, who takes the hill on Saturday hoping to overcome the early-inning woes he has experienced in his past three turns. The opposition tagged him for a combined 11 runs in the first two frames of each of those outings.

After allowing only three earned runs in a four-start stretch from July 22 to Aug. 13, Worley gave up at least that many in each of his past three trips to the hill.

Most recently, he surrendered a season-high 12 hits to the Brewers on Sunday, when he allowed four earned runs in 6 1/3 innings. In the first and second innings, he retired the first two batters before giving up four straight hits.

"You don't see that very often -- two outs, then four hits in back-to-back innings. But it all goes back to rhythm," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He found it in the third."

Opposite Worley, who has not faced Cincinnati since August 2012, will be Alfredo Simon, who snapped a string of disappointing outings by limiting the Braves to one earned run in seven innings on Sunday. Simon had lasted only 5 1/3 innings or fewer in each of his previous four starts, compiling a 6.64 ERA during that stretch.

"I threw a lot of good pitches down and away today, and I got a lot of ground balls," Simon said after beating Atlanta. "I needed the win."

Reds: Dominating non-Cardinal NL Central rivals
Friday night's loss to the Pirates puts the Reds in a tough spot as they try to maintain their stellar 11-1-1 series record against the Bucs, Brewers and Cubs this season. Meanwhile, they are winless in four series against the Cardinals.

The Reds claimed each of the previous four series they played against the Pirates in 2014 and have gone 27-16 against Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Chicago while compiling a 3-9 mark against St. Louis.

Pirates: Performing in port
After defeating the Reds, 2-1, on Friday night, the Bucs are one victory from winning their ninth series in the past 11 at PNC Park. They have also won 10 of their past 13 series at home.

The Pirates are 15-6-1 in home series this season and must win seven of their next 11 games at PNC Park to match last year's home record, 50-31.

Worth noting
• Cincinnati leads the Majors in one-run losses, with 32.

• Pittsburgh starters have a 2.42 ERA in 52 innings in their last eight games, including only four earned runs allowed in the past 31 1/3 frames.

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{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }

Reds excel on bases, at plate to support Axelrod

Six steals spur two three-run innings; righty K's eight in five frames

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Reds excel on bases, at plate to support Axelrod play video for Reds excel on bases, at plate to support Axelrod

CINCINNATI -- A water main break outside Coors Field on Aug. 16 led to Dylan Axelrod being sent to the Minors after a strong start in his Reds debut the next day. But there were no such external forces in his way on Thursday afternoon.

Axelrod tossed five scoreless innings to pick up his first win in a Reds uniform, and Cincinnati stole six bases in a game for the first time in more than eight years in a 7-2 victory over the Cubs at Great American Ball Park. The Reds took two games out of three from Chicago, scoring at least seven runs in back-to-back games for the first time since Aug. 5-6 against the Indians.

The Reds purchased Axelrod's contract from the White Sox on July 17 and called him up from Triple-A Louisville to make the start against Colorado in place of the injured Homer Bailey (strained right flexor mass tendon). The game was postponed due to the water main break, and the right-hander instead pitched the nightcap of a doubleheader against the Rockies on Aug. 17, turning in six solid innings and allowing two runs while striking out seven.

But because he started one day later than originally anticipated, the Reds needed a fresh arm the next Thursday, optioning Axelrod back to Triple-A Louisville and recalling left-hander David Holmberg.

"Kind of after the game [against the Rockies], I was like, 'When's my next start?' And then I was like, 'Oh boy,' Axelrod said. "So yeah, I saw that coming."

Axelrod awaited his next chance, and it came on Thursday. He labored through the first two innings, needing 58 pitches. But Axelrod settled down nicely after that, needing 42 to get through the next three frames. He allowed two hits, walking three (one intentionally) and striking out eight to tie a career high.

Axelrod said he made an adjustment when his pitch count began climbing, which helped him the rest of the way.

"It was more just attacking the hitters. They laid off a lot of good two-strike pitches and battled and made me throw a lot of pitches," Axelrod said. "So I just wanted to start attacking more and getting early contact."

"I think there was an awful lot of offspeed stuff, which typically isn't put in play early in the count," Reds manager Bryan Price said of Axelrod's early approach. "He went more to his fastball in those last three innings and had a lot more balls in play early in the at-bat, and it kept him out there through five."

Reds hitters did their part with three-run innings in the second and fourth. In the second, Kristopher Negron led off with a walk against Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, stole second and scored on Zack Cozart's single one out later. Following an Axelrod strikeout, Billy Hamilton doubled home Cozart and scored on Todd Frazier's single to make it 3-0.

With one out in the fourth, Cozart singled again. One out later, he stole second and Hamilton walked. Frazier followed with another RBI single, then stole his second base of the game and 19th of the season. Brandon Phillips doubled home both Hamilton and Frazier to make it 6-0.

The six stolen bases by the Reds were the club's most in a game since they stole six against the Nationals on May 10, 2006. Price said there was an emphasis on running in the game plan against Arrieta.

"Arrieta, we knew, was going to be very hard to score on," Price said. "So I felt kind of like we needed to create some scoring opportunities by running. He's a little bit slower and more deliberate to the plate, and we were able to take advantage of that."

Cincinnati tacked on another run in the sixth. Cozart doubled to left-center and moved to third when center fielder Arismendy Alcantara bobbled the ball. One out later, Hamilton singled to left to add to the lead.

Cozart, who has struggled at the plate most of the season, said the hits are finally beginning to fall for him.

"I've been feeling pretty good, to be honest with you. It's been like three weeks," Cozart said. "I haven't had the results that I've wanted, but I've felt pretty good. I think it's starting to show. I'm getting more confident, attacking the ball and using the right side of the field."

The Cubs scored their two runs in the ninth on an RBI single by Jorge Soler and a sacrifice fly by Alcantara off Jumbo Diaz.

As they head out on a road trip to face the Pirates and Orioles, the Reds are looking at an 8 1/2-game deficit in the National League Central and a six-game deficit in the NL Wild Card race. That's not impossible to overcome at this stage of the season, but it's certainly an uphill climb.

"September has to be fun," Price said. "You couldn't be more of an underdog than we are right now. So forget pressure; go out, have some fun and make things difficult for these other clubs and maybe find our way back into this thing."

As the Reds approach September, it appears that Axelrod will continue to fill in for Bailey while he's out, and Price has made it clear to the right-hander that he's earned that opportunity.

"He said, 'You should have been here the whole time,'" Axelrod said. "The water main thing was a freak thing. You're where you belong.'"

{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }

Reds swipe six, run away with rubber match

Cincinnati hasn't accomplished rare feat in more than eight years

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CINCINNATI -- The Reds accomplished something on the basepaths in Thursday's 7-2 victory over the Cubs at Great American Ball Park that they hadn't done in more than eight years.

Cincinnati stole six bases in a game for the first time since May 10, 2006 against the Nationals.

Manager Bryan Price said after the game that running on Chicago starter Jake Arrieta was part of the game plan.

"Arrieta, we knew, was going to be very hard to score on," Price said. "So I felt kind of like we needed to create some scoring opportunities by running. He's a little bit slower and more deliberate to the plate, and we were able to take advantage of that."

Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart had two steals each. Frazier has 19 stolen bases this season, one shy of making him the third Reds third baseman to hit 20 home runs (he has 22) and steal 20 bags in the same season. Aaron Boone had 26 homers and 32 stolen bases in 2002, and Chris Sabo had 25 homers and 25 stolen bases in 1990.

"[Arrieta's] kind of slow to the plate, so might as well take that opportunity and go," Frazier said. "It's exciting; when people run, you get more opportunities to get RBIs."

Billy Hamilton stole his 51st base in the first inning, bringing him to within three of the franchise rookie record of 54, set by Bob Bescher in 1909. Kristopher Negron had the other stolen base in the second inning.

"It makes it fun," Cozart said. "You can just tell, even throughout this year, we've been so much more aggressive on the bases. Obviously you've got Billy, but other guys chipping in to get more stolen bases. And it opens up opportunities. You get guys in scoring position and you get big hits like we did today."

The Reds entered Thursday third in the Majors with 106 stolen bases as a team, behind the Dodgers (120) and the Royals (117).

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Frazier more comfortable with role at first base

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CINCINNATI -- Todd Frazier's route from the field to the dugout and back has become a little shorter over recent days. Normally the Reds' third baseman, Frazier's time at first base has been increasing.

On Thursday vs. the Cubs, Frazier started his third straight game at first base, and it was also his fourth time in five games. It has allowed manager Bryan Price to get hot-hitting utility player Kristopher Negron into the lineup at third base.

"I haven't really talked to [Price] about it, but with Negron doing so well, why not?" Frazier said Thursday morning. "He's a great defender. He's a great utility guy. You want to put the guy in that's hot right now. You have Skip [Schumaker] doing well too.

"As a manager, you have to play the guy that's hot and find the right place for him. If that means moving me to first base, that's awesome."

To try to fill the void without the injured Joey Votto since July 6, the Reds have often used backup catcher Brayan Pena at first base. On days Pena needs to catch, Frazier has been used to step in. Thursday marked his 27th game at first base. He didn't play there at all last season, when Votto played all 162 games. In 2012, Frazier played the position 39 times.

"I feel great over there," Frazier said.

During Wednesday's 7-5 win, Negron sparked a four-run fourth inning by hustling for a double and scoring the go-ahead run. He also helped turn a key double play in the first inning.

"He's looked very comfortable over there," Frazier said. "He made some great plays yesterday. He's got a great arm."

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Bruce fans five times as Reds rout Cubs in finale

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Bruce fans five times as Reds rout Cubs in finale

CINCINNATI -- It was an overall splendid day for a Reds lineup that tallied 11 hits on Thursday in a 7-2 victory over the Cubs to win a three-game series.

Take away the victory, and it would be a miserable afternoon at the plate for Jay Bruce. The right fielder went 0-for-5 with five strikeouts -- the rare platinum sombrero, perhaps.

A five-strikeout game has happened only seven times in Reds history since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It last happened on the club to Adam Dunn at Arizona on Aug. 20, 2002.

Here are the others, which all happened in games that lasted longer than nine innings:

Eric Davis on April 25, 1987, vs. the Astros (10 innings).
George Foster on Aug. 8, 1972, vs. the Dodgers (19 innings).
Pete Rose on Aug. 15, 1970, vs. the Phillies (14 innings).

Deron Johnson did it twice in just over one month of the 1964 season -- on Aug. 29 vs. the Astros in 11 innings and Sept. 30 vs. the Pirates in a 16-inning game.

Bruce went down swinging in four of his five strikeouts and ended an inning three times. In the sixth inning, after he got the golden sombrero with strikeout No. 4 while facing Wesley Wright, boos echoed from the 21,316 fans at Great American Ball Park. In the eighth, Bruce chased a Kyuji Fujikawa pitch outside for his fifth strikeout and heard more boos.

Only two of the Reds eight position players came up hitless on Thursday -- Bruce and Skip Schumaker.

Bruce, who went 3-for-25 on the homestand, is batting .218 with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs this season.

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{"event":["prospect" ] }

Prospect Corcino optioned to clear space for Axelrod

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CINCINNATI -- Before Thursday's series finale, the Reds made the expected recall of pitcher Dylan Axelrod from Triple-A Louisville to start against the Cubs.

To make room on the roster, right-handed pitcher Daniel Corcino was optioned to Louisville. Corcino, 24, made his Major League debut during Tuesday's 3-0 loss to the Chicago. He worked a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts.

Normally a starting pitcher and the Reds' No. 11 prospect, according to MLB.com, Corcino was called up Friday from Double-A Pensacola to add bullpen depth. In all likelihood, he will return to the Reds as a September callup once Louisville's season ends.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Price, Reds discuss callups during stretch run

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Price, Reds discuss callups during stretch run

CINCINNATI -- The Reds' front office has been meeting in recent days to discuss potential September callups from the Minor Leagues. Major League rosters can expand from 25 to 40 players on Monday.

"I think we're going to get somewhere in the neighborhood of seven to nine, I would say," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I think that would be a reasonable assumption. There are some guys that we would really like to see. It kind of gives us a chance to take a better look at guys given that opportunity."

If that many names are on the list, it would mean that some new faces will be joining the familiar past callups from Triple-A Louisville, such as catcher Tucker Barnhart, outfielder Donald Lutz, infielder Neftali Soto and relievers J.J. Hoover and Curtis Partch.

"We've talked about a lot of guys, but we have some guys [who] haven't been here that are being discussed," Price said, without specifying names. "It will be interesting to see how much playing time they get, because a lot of that will be dictated by where we are in the standings. You can't really showcase your young players and give them a lot of opportunity if you're still chasing a postseason spot."

Only a handful of players on the 40-man roster have yet to play in the big leagues, including Double-A Pensacola outfielders Yorman Rodriguez and Juan Duran.

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Bats back Latos early as Reds hold off Cubs

Righty shakes off consecutive HRs to fan 10; Heisey, Aroldis halt rally

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Bats back Latos early as Reds hold off Cubs play video for Bats back Latos early as Reds hold off Cubs

CINCINNATI -- The Reds got a glimpse of what some robust (Jorge) Soler power looks like on Wednesday evening. That and some other lesser drives to the outer limits of Great American Ball Park were not quite enough to undo a very dependable start from Mat Latos.

A four-run fourth inning supported Latos nicely before the Reds had to hang on for a 7-5 victory over the Cubs. Cincinnati has won three of its last four games and stopped Chicago's four-game win streak.

"It was definitely something that we needed," Reds manager Bryan Price said of Latos' performance.

Latos worked into the eighth inning and survived giving up back-to-back home runs to Luis Valbuena and Soler to begin the second inning. Valbuena hit a 1-0 pitch to right field and Soler -- a top prospect who received a much-ballyhooed callup from Triple-A earlier in the day -- tattooed a 2-1 fastball an estimated 423 feet and over the center-field fence.

It made Soler the first Cubs player to homer in his first Major League plate appearance since Starlin Castro did it against the Reds, also in Cincinnati, on May 7, 2010.

"I felt like earlier in the game, I really didn't have a good release point," Latos said. "Both pitches were two-seamers. I wound up pulling it back over the middle of the plate instead of going down and away with it."

In seven-plus innings, Latos allowed four earned runs and seven hits with one walk and a season-high 10 strikeouts. He is 3-0 with a 2.95 ERA over his last six starts.

A single by Welington Castillo followed the two homers in the second inning, but Latos retired nine of the next 10 batters without another hit until Chris Valaika's leadoff infield single in the fifth.

"He had a few guys that had some relatively comfortable at-bats against him, and then he really turned a corner and made some outstanding pitches," Price said of Latos.

The Reds made it a 2-2 game in the bottom of the second before a four-run fourth provided the needed separation. Nine Reds batted in the fourth, but it started with a nice spark from Kristopher Negron, who legged out a double on a hit into short left-center field. That paid off when he scored the go-ahead run easily on Skip Schumaker's single through the left side.

"It was a hustle double. He never broke stride from what I saw. I thought he was thinking double the entire way. That's how you do it," Price said. "It's a great habit, a great thing to do. Of course, it's a great Pete Rose trademark right there to make the outfielder stop you. In that case, they weren't able to stop Kris, and it ended up being a really important play for us."

With two outs, a Billy Hamilton grounder was muffed by Castro at shortstop. Hamilton was credited with an infield hit, while Castro was charged for an error that scored Schumaker. Following Valbuena's fielding error on a Todd Frazier grounder, RBI singles by Brandon Phillips and Devin Mesoraco made it a four-run game.

Heading into the eighth, Latos had a stretch of five strikeouts over his previous eight batters but was pulled when his first two batters singled. Reliever Jonathan Broxton was ineffective, giving up a two-run double to Javier Baez before Castro smacked a long hit off the center-field wall. Castro admired the drive a little too long and was limited to a single. It may have saved the lead since a one-out RBI single by Soler made it a one-run game instead of a potential tie score. Broxton escaped by getting Castillo to ground into a double play.

Pinch-hitter Chris Heisey provided insurance with a long leadoff homer to left field in the eighth against lefty reliever Zac Rosscup. It was Heisey's third pinch-hit homer of the season, and ninth of his career.

Aroldis Chapman earned his 28th save in 30 tries in the ninth, but not without drama. A leadoff single and two-out walk brought Baez to the plate representing the go-ahead run. On a 102 mph, 0-2 fastball from Chapman, Baez hit a booming drive to right-center field. It landed just shy of the fence, where Hamilton caught it at the back of the warning track.

"I was already deep and everything, playing no-doubles. I had to take a couple of steps back, and I got a little scared; it sounded so loud and it was really high," Hamilton said. "The guy has some power. And he had power coming in at him; all he had to do was touch it a little bit. But we got the win, and we did a good job."

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Hamilton becomes youngest Red to steal 50 bases

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Hamilton becomes youngest Red to steal 50 bases play video for Hamilton becomes youngest Red to steal 50 bases

CINCINNATI -- Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton added another remarkable feat to an already impressive rookie campaign.

In the fourth inning of Wednesday's 7-5 win over the Cubs, the speedster stole his 50th base of the season, swiping third with two outs and later scoring on a single by Brandon Phillips.

At 23 years old, Hamilton is the youngest player in Reds history, and ninth overall, to steal 50 or more bases in a season, joining Bob Bescher (1909-12), Dode Paskert (1910), Bobby Tolan (1970), Joe Morgan (1972-76), Dave Collins (1980), Eric Davis (1986-87), Barry Larkin (1995) and Deion Sanders (1997). Tolan and Davis (in '86) were 24 when they stole 50.

"It feels great. That's just what I like to do is steal bases, and I got a chance tonight," Hamilton said. "I knew I had 49, but not knowing what comes behind the 50 steals. So it was pretty good to get."

Hamilton said he's become a better baserunner since getting to the big leagues, even though he leads the Majors in number of times caught stealing (19) and set a Minor League record by stealing 155 bases between Class A Advanced Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola in 2012.

"I got caught last year less in the Minor Leagues, but that was more off of just going and not knowing the situation, not really caring who was batting or what the situation was," Hamilton said. "It was just running. ... It's mainly about learning the situation now."

"It's certainly a bonus for us," Reds manager Bryan Price said of what Hamilton has brought to the club with his speed. "We didn't have a ton of team speed last year. This is an added dimension to our offense. It's extremely exciting."

Hamilton is four stolen bases away from equaling the franchise's rookie record of 54, set by Bescher in 1909. The all-time single-season franchise record is 81, also set by Bescher in 1911.

But while Hamilton used to set a goal for how many bases he wanted to steal in a given season, that's no longer the case.

"After I got to the big leagues, I stopped doing that," he said. "Usually my goal was: every level in the Minor Leagues I wanted to double what I had the following season. When I got to last year, I stopped that; I just wanted to come here, learn and get better and see what happens."

Continuing to build a strong candidacy to earn the National League Rookie of the Year Award, Hamilton entered Wednesday's contest leading all NL rookies in RBIs (44), multi-hit games (34), runs (66), hits (126), total bases (182), doubles (24), triples (7), stolen bases and extra-base hits (37). He was also leading all NL center fielders with eight outfield assists.

Price sees big things in Hamilton's future.

"I'm excited, obviously, that he's gotten to this level," Price said. "He's only going to get better."

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{"content":["injury" ] }

Bailey's season in question after MRI results

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Bailey's season in question after MRI results play video for Bailey's season in question after MRI results

CINCINNATI -- Reds pitcher Homer Bailey underwent a second MRI exam on the strained flexor mass tendon in his right forearm, and the results learned Wednesday did not give him the green light to resume throwing.

"Unfortunately, it's not healing the way we thought it would," Reds head trainer Paul Lessard said.

Bailey has been out since Aug. 8, and he hasn't tried to throw since he had a platelet-rich plasma injection to help speed his healing shortly after going on the disabled list. A second PRP injection is under consideration, but if he has one, it would mean another week of not throwing.

"He's unfortunately very frustrated, [but] I have to think about his arm for the future as well, not just the next four weeks," Lessard said. "We're trying to figure out what's the best thing for him."

Reds medical director Dr. Tim Kremchek is seeking additional opinions from other orthopedic physicians.

"He has an opinion, but he isn't sure if we should continue what we're doing, [or if we] should shut him down completely," Lessard said.

{"content":["injury" ] }
{"content":["injury" ] }

Votto adds field work to recovery program

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Votto adds field work to recovery program play video for Votto adds field work to recovery program

CINCINNATI -- Injured Reds first baseman Joey Votto took another baseball-related step in his effort to return to the club, fielding ground balls before batting practice Wednesday. Over recent days, Votto began running, taking swings and playing catch.

Reds manager Bryan Price was waiting to see how Votto responded from the session before looking ahead. It would seem unlikely, however, that there would be enough time for Votto to go out on a Minor League rehab assignment. Triple-A Louisville's season ends on Monday. Votto, recovering from a distal strain of his left quadriceps, can be activated from the 60-day disabled list as soon as Sept. 4.

"I'd hate to say there's no chance, but I think because we're initiating baby steps that ... I don't know if he'll be ready by Sept. 4 or not. I have no idea. I really don't," Price said. "It's been a real gradual recovery, and it's an injury that needs -- more than anything, beyond strengthening and therapy -- it needs time to recover. ... We just haven't been able to force the recovery faster. There's just no quick fix to this quad problem to where he can play on it with the stability that's needed.

"When we went into this injury, we felt like, to get to where he was recovered was about four months. However, we were going to try to get to the point where he somehow could play before that. And to this point, we haven't been able to get there."

Since Votto went on the DL for the second time on July 8, a public timeline for his expected progress and return has continually been vague.

"I don't know if we had any expectations," Reds head trainer Paul Lessard said. "The plan was really to work on his strength and his endurance. The strength is there, now we've been concentrating on his muscular endurance."

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{"content":["replay" ] }

Cubs win challenge on safe call at first base

Reds' Negron initially given infield hit, but Renteria's eye proves otherwise

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Cubs win challenge on safe call at first base play video for Cubs win challenge on safe call at first base

CINCINNATI -- The Cubs challenged a call at first base in the fifth inning, and it was overturned.

With Cincinnati leading, 6-2, Kris Negron led off the Reds' fifth by hitting the ball toward first baseman Chris Valaika, who flipped to pitcher Carlos Villanueva. First-base umpire Ben May ruled Negron was safe with an infield hit.

But Cubs manager Rick Renteria challenged the call, and after a 44-second review, it was overturned.

The Cubs now have challenged 48 calls this season, and won 20.

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Cueto hurt by homers as Reds fall in shutout

Otherwise dominant, ace displeased with immediate rain delay

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Cueto hurt by homers as Reds fall in shutout play video for Cueto hurt by homers as Reds fall in shutout

CINCINNATI -- Fired up and still seething, Reds ace Johnny Cueto didn't feel he was beaten only by the Cubs on Tuesday night. He also felt defeated by the fickle science that is meteorology.

It started pouring minutes into Cueto's start in the first inning. Anthony Rizzo hit a solo home run to right field three batters into the game before a delay stopped play for nearly an hour. When the skies cleared, the Reds went quietly in a 3-0 loss to the Cubs at Great American Ball Park.

"I was pretty upset," Cueto said with catcher Brayan Pena translating. "It was raining. The baseball was very slippery. It's difficult. If they knew it was going to rain, why couldn't they stop the game and wait until it was much better weather?"

Denied again to be the Majors' first 16-game winner, Cueto lost back-to-back starts for the first time since May 20 and 26. He gave up three runs -- all on home runs -- over 6 1/3 innings, including seven hits, two walks and eight strikeouts.

Following Rizzo's two-out homer on the 1-0 fastball, his 30th of the season, next batter Starlin Castro singled to center field as Billy Hamilton slipped and fell trying to catch the ball. A 50-minute rain delay sent both teams back to their clubhouses. Cueto tried to keep busy throwing in the batting cage, but it's not the same as game intensity.

"I'm not making excuses or anything like that, but it took a little time for me to get warm again," said Cueto, now 15-8 with a 2.26 ERA. "After you get loose and then sit down for an hour, your body breaks down a little bit."

After play resumed, Cueto retired 10 in a row and did not allow his next hit until the sixth inning.

Leading off the seventh, Matt Szczur hit a single before Arismendy Alcantara pulled a 1-0 pitch to right field for a two-run homer that made it a three-run game.

"Cueto's obviously a very, very good pitcher," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "He had one pitch that Rizzo was able to handle, and Alcantara was able to get on top of a fastball up and just put the barrel on it. When you can score three runs on him, it's a pretty good feeling."

There was little if any offense produced against Cubs starter Travis Wood. The former Reds left-hander gave up only two hits over six dominant innings with one walk and five strikeouts. Todd Frazier hit a one-out single in the first inning, and after Wood retired 13 of the next 14, the second single came via Zack Cozart with two outs in the fifth.

Reds manager Bryan Price downplayed the effect the showers and delay had on the outcome.

"Johnny, I thought, handled it well, as did Woody. Both starting pitchers did a nice job," Price said. "There's just no way to avoid that, popup showers. We're in the Midwest, it happens. Certainly if we could avoid any type of rain delay, if we knew it was going to happen, we would never have started the game.

"It's unfortunate. It's not a reason we lost. They had to play under the same circumstances, and they played better than we did."

The Reds' third hit didn't come until a two-out, pinch-hit bunt single by Skip Schumaker in the eighth against Pedro Strop. Hamilton followed with a walk to bring the potential tying run to the plate, but Frazier grounded out softly to third base to end the threat.

Reds No. 11 prospect Daniel Corcino was the lone bright spot for the Reds. Corcino, on his 24th birthday, worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning, including two strikeouts, in his Major League debut.

As the Reds have sunk like a stone since the All-Star break, fading too are hopes for a postseason berth. Something more realistic, and far less desirable, is closer to reality if they aren't careful.

That would be last place.

Armed with young talent, the Cubs have gotten hot lately, and the Reds saw it firsthand. Fourth-place Cincinnati (63-69) now leads fifth-place Chicago (59-72) by a mere 3 1/2 games in the National League Central standings. The third-place Pirates are five games ahead of the Reds.

The Cubs have won four in a row and seven of nine, while the Reds' brief two-game win streak was snapped to leave them 12-25 since the break.

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Big league birthday: Corcino makes perfect debut

Reds reliever celebrates No. 24 with two K's, gets ovation; fiancée, son on hand

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Big league birthday: Corcino makes perfect debut play video for Big league birthday: Corcino makes perfect debut

CINCINNATI -- Birthdays come and go with various degrees of fondness as the years pile up. But Reds pitching prospect Daniel Corcino will always remember his 24th birthday and what he did on Tuesday night.

Corcino made his Major League debut out of the bullpen and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning vs. the Cubs. It was the lone bright spot for the Reds in a 3-0 loss at Great American Ball Park.

"It was great," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It was something that was fun to watch at the end of a game where there wasn't a whole lot going on. He came in and threw strikes, which was great to see. He had a real nice breaking ball, got a couple of strikeouts and ended up pitching a nice inning for us."

Corcino threw 10 pitches, with eight strikes. His first batter, Welington Castillo, went down on three pitches -- with strike three coming on a breaking ball. Chris Valaika followed with a strikeout before Chris Coghlan flied out to left field.

Reds fans gave a nice ovation to Corcino, who tipped his cap in appreciation. He received handshakes from Price and his teammates inside the dugout.

"Everybody was so excited to see me and tell me congratulations and happy birthday," Corcino said. "They're very happy with me, and I'm happy with them because they gave me the opportunity."

Corcino, ranked as the No. 11 Reds prospect by MLB.com, is a developing starting pitcher but was called up Friday from Double-A Pensacola to help a taxed bullpen.

Since he's been with the club, his fiancée and 11-month-old son, Kaden, have been on hand to watch for when he might appear. At his home in the Dominican Republic, family awaited the news. The first strikeout will especially be a fond memory of a nice debut.

"It's unbelievable. I was so excited," Corcino said. "My family is back home in the Dominican. My son was here watching. I'm so excited I have that ball for him."

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Winker, Howard among Reds to play in AFL

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Winker, Howard among Reds to play in AFL play video for Winker, Howard among Reds to play in AFL

CINCINNATI -- The Arizona Fall League announced its roster of players on Tuesday, and it included six Reds prospects who will play for the Surprise Saguaros. That club will be managed by Double-A Pensacola skipper Delino DeShields from the Reds' system.

Outfielder Jesse Winker, who is listed by MLB.com as the Reds organization's No. 2 prospect, will be on the roster when the AFL begins play Oct. 7. Winker participated in the MLB All-Star Futures Game in Minneapolis but has missed most of the second half of the season with a right wrist injury.

The organization's No. 5 prospect, Class A Dayton starting pitcher and 2014 first-round Draft pick Nick Howard, will also be participating. Howard has a 4.56 ERA in nine games, including three starts, for Dayton.

Also playing for Surprise are four more players from Pensacola -- third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean, second baseman Ryan Wright, right fielder Kyle Waldrop and right-handed pitcher Ben Klimesh.

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Reds to call up Axelrod for Thursday start

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Reds to call up Axelrod for Thursday start play video for Reds to call up Axelrod for Thursday start

CINCINNATI -- Right-handed pitcher Dylan Axelrod will be recalled from Triple-A Louisville to start on Thursday vs. the Cubs, the Reds announced on Tuesday.

Axelrod was called up Aug. 16 to replace injured Homer Bailey in the rotation, but his start at Colorado was postponed because of a water main break near Coors Field. After he pitched Game 2 of a doubleheader the following day -- a 10-5 Reds loss to the Rockies, during which he gave up two runs and seven hits over six innings for a no-decision -- he was sent back down, because the club needed another starter on Thursday vs. the Braves.

"I intend to get a good look at Dylan and give him every opportunity to pitch down the stretch for us and show his value to the organization," Reds manager Bryan Price said.

Axelrod last pitched on Friday for Louisville vs. Columbus, giving up two runs on four hits over seven innings.

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Cingrani unlikely to return to Reds this season

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CINCINNATI -- Starting pitcher Tony Cingrani, who has been on Triple-A Louisville's disabled list since June 26 with a left shoulder strain, has yet to resume a throwing program and isn't being counted on to help the Reds again this season.

"At this point in time, I'm not anticipating him being back, simply because I don't think he would have enough time to get back and be able to help us in September," Reds manager Bryan Price said.

Cingrani, who recently tried to throw but was shut down after he still felt an impingement, had a platelet-rich plasma injection to try and speed his healing. That meant he could not throw for at least a week afterward. There is a possibility he will undergo a second injection, which would mean another week of inactivity.

Louisville's season ends on Sept. 1, leaving Cingrani no place to get into games before any potential callup.

{"content":["injury" ] }

Phillips likely not leaving Reds any time soon

10-and-5 rights, plus the money he's owed, make it hard to move second baseman

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CINCINNATI -- Tuesday should be just another day in the regular season for Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips. Contractually speaking, it's a whole lot more.

It's the day Phillips officially has 10 years of Major League service time, and because he's been with Cincinnati since 2006, his 10-and-5 rights will kick in.

What does it all mean?

Plenty.

Under the rules in the Basic Agreement, players with at least 10 years logged in the Majors, including the last five with their current team, gain full no-trade protection. With team turnover because of trades and free agency so common around today's game, these rights can be quite difficult to attain.

Phillips, who signed a six-year, $72.5 million contract on April 10, 2012, had a limited no-trade clause in the deal, but the 10-and-5 rights supersede that stipulation. He is signed through the 2017 season.

Because 10-and-5 rights are not easy to get, players aren't often in a rush to relinquish them. Players with the protection can approve a trade from their clubs, but they are not required to acquiesce. There are ways to entice the rights to be waived -- whether it's the chance to play for a winner, an offer of bonus money or the offer of a contract extension.

The desire to win motivated outfielder -- and 10-and-5 player -- Ken Griffey Jr. to approve of the Reds trading him to the White Sox on July 31, 2008, for right-handed reliever Nick Masset and second baseman Danny Richar.

The Reds looked into trading Phillips during the past offseason, amid heavy rumors he would be moved, but found no takers. A potential deal with the Yankees did not yield a match.

Even without his having 10-and-5 protection, the remaining salary on Phillips' contract after 2014 isn't one many teams would be willing to take on.

The 33-year-old Phillips, who is a three-time National League All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner, is earning $11 million this season. He will get $12 million next season, $13 million in 2016 and $14 million in '17. It's a sizeable amount for a second baseman headed into the post-prime years of his career. Phillips will be 36 when the deal expires.

Phillips, the longest-tenured player in Cincinnati, was one of the best trade acquisitions in Reds history when then-general manager Wayne Krivsky got him from the Indians on April 7, 2006, for Minor League pitcher Jeff Stevens.

It didn't take long for Phillips to become a fixture in Cincinnati. From 2006-11, he averaged 151 games, 21 home runs and 81 RBIs a year, and he batted .280/.331/.449 during that span. Phillips also hit in several spots in the lineup -- including leadoff and cleanup. His best season -- 2011 -- came before his big contract extension, when he batted .300/.353/.457 with 18 homers and 82 RBIs.

The years since the contract was signed haven't been nearly as robust, as Phillips has been a .270/.314/.406 hitter from 2012-14. Last season, he notched a career-high 103 RBIs, but he had the good fortune of batting behind the league's two leading hitters in on-base percentage, Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo. Phillips also played with a left forearm contusion after being hit by a pitch on June 1 of that season.

This season, Phillips is batting .269/.308/.383 with seven homers and 41 RBIs, and he returned last week after missing 33 games with a torn ligament in his left thumb. The injury, which required surgery, happened during a diving-catch attempt on July 9. The bad luck aside, he's continued to be a dynamic fielder who is able to make some dazzling plays.

Looking at his advanced offensive statistics, Phillips had a 5.6 wins above replacement (WAR) figure and a 122 weighted runs created plus (wRC+ is an attempt to quantify a player's total offensive value and measure it by runs) during his 2011 season, according to Fangraphs.com. His WAR and wRC+ have dipped each season since, to 2.6 and 91 last season and a 1.3 WAR with a 91 wRC+ this season.

Off the field, it's often been interesting. Phillips has spent the past season declining to talk to any of the Reds' beat reporters. Last season, he was caught on video verbally attacking one Cincinnati writer who wrote about his low on-base percentage. One year ago, Phillips was quoted saying unflattering things about the team's management.

The Reds, who have disappointed with a 63-68 record, are headed into an offseason in which they are boxed in by big contracts. Besides Phillips, the deals of six players -- including Votto, Homer Bailey and Jay Bruce -- will tie up $63.5 million of next year's payroll. It could mean the small-market team will move future potential free agents like Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos or Mike Leake.

One player who is going nowhere is Phillips.

What could the next three seasons bring? A lot of that depends on Phillips, while Father Time is sure to have a say. But for better or worse, Phillips will likely finish his contract with the Reds.

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Reds survive ninth to earn split against Braves

Atlanta loads bases with two outs, but Broxton escapes jam for save

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Reds survive ninth to earn split against Braves play video for Reds survive ninth to earn split against Braves

CINCINNATI -- Remember the red-hot Reds team and that red-hot pitcher you saw in mid-July? If you time your visits to the ballpark just right, you can still see them.

Alfredo Simon earned his first victory since July 9 and Cincinnati survived a tense final inning to outlast Atlanta, 5-3, on Sunday at Great American Ball Park. The win earned the Reds an encouraging split of the four-game series after defeats in the first two games had extended the team's losing streak to seven.

"We're battling out there; we're not giving up," said shortstop Zack Cozart, who was 3-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs.

Simon (13-8) carried a shutout into the seventh. Some solid defensive work by middle infielders Cozart and Brandon Phillips helped aid Simon, an All-Star in the season's first half (12-3, 2.70 ERA) who had fallen on hard times in the second half (0-5, 5.40 ERA prior to Sunday).

"They came through today," Simon said of the defense behind him. "I threw a lot of good pitches down and away today, and I got a lot of ground balls. I needed the win."

All of Simon's good work was nearly negated in the final inning.

Logan Ondrusek, pitching with a 5-1 lead, served up an Evan Gattis home run and allowed a two-out Emilio Bonifacio hit on what Reds manager Bryan Price called a "skate save," a ball headed for Cozart that Ondrusek instead deflected with his foot.

Three consecutive Braves then reached against Jonathan Broxton, loading the bases for cleanup hitter Justin Upton. Phillips was able to field Upton's grounder and flip the ball to Cozart covering second to cement Broxton's seventh save.

"Things got messy the last two innings and shouldn't have," Price said.

The Reds won consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 6-7 at the expense of Aaron Harang (10-8), the veteran right-hander who pitched for Cincinnati from 2003-10. Harang was 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA in four previous career starts against the Reds.

Todd Frazier and Phillips produced back-to-back singles to start the fourth inning. Then, with one out, Harang didn't make it over to cover first base on Jay Bruce's ground ball, and the Reds went on to score three runs.

"It's something as small as covering first, which I've done thousands of times in my career, and the one time you don't do it, things come unraveled," Harang said.

"I just assumed it was foul, so I kind of broke down. And by the time I get started again, I'm not going to beat him to first. I take the blame for the whole thing."

Frazier added his team-high 22nd home run of the season, off Braves reliever David Hale, in the seventh.

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Proud Selig determined to remain busy

With no regrets, Commissioner preparing to make most of post-baseball life

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Proud Selig determined to remain busy play video for Proud Selig determined to remain busy

To borrow the words of Yogi Berra, it ain't over 'til it's over.

Allan H. "Bud" Selig has been Commissioner of Major League Baseball for 22 years.

The youngest generation of baseball players and fans has never known life without Selig at the helm of our pastime. All that is about to change, with Rob Manfred slated to replace Selig as Commissioner in January 2015.

As easy as it would be to do, Selig isn't content to rest on his laurels and simply keep Manfred's seat warm.

"I'm trying to remove any of the difficult situations that Rob Manfred will have, trying to clean up as much as I can," Selig explained to reporters at a Cincinnati news conference on Friday. "What I would say to you is the sport has never been more popular; it's doing great. The idea is to stay calm, get that done. We're having a marvelous year, great competitive balance -- and that's what I'm going to do the last five months. I'm pleased the way the year has gone.

"There are certain interclub disputes and other things that I really would like to handle. He'll have enough things [to do], just keeping the industry moving forward, getting ready for labor negotiations, doing a whole series of other things."

Selig, 80, isn't slowing down any time soon.

"[When I retire,] it will be a different light," Selig said, "but I am going to start teaching almost immediately, and in fact, the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin was in our home ranch on Saturday, and she already started talking about what they wanted me to do as soon as I'm there.

"And I'm going to write a book, so that'll keep me busy. It's a really fair question, because all of my adult life, I've been in baseball. And so that day will be the first officially that I'm not. But I'll keep busy. That's all I can tell you. I have a lot planned."

And while Selig may be looking forward to retirement and all that comes with it -- becoming a history professor and published author, for instance -- in some sense, he knows parting will indeed be sweet sorrow.

"When all is said and done, I regarded myself a baseball person," Selig said. "I've often said you shouldn't do this job if you don't have passion for this sport. So it's the people I'll miss. I've been fortunate. I got to do something that I love -- passionate -- and met a lot of really wonderful people, on the field and off the field, and that's what I'll miss."

More than likely, the people of baseball -- players, coaches, executives and fans alike -- will miss Selig, too.

The man has done so much for the game -- from introducing the Wild Card to overseeing the economic revitalization of the sport through revenue sharing to instituting the toughest PED testing in professional sports -- that owners repeatedly asked Selig to stay on as Commissioner.

With that kind of legacy, Selig is content with the two decades he's spent presiding over our pastime.

"I don't really have any regrets," Selig said. "When I think of 1992 and things were tense and bad, bad for the next decade, I'm really proud of where we are. What am I proudest of? A lot of things, but the economic reformation of the game.

"Things have changed. When I woke up two, three days ago, and the first thing I do is look at the standings in the paper, and you see all three National League divisions on that day were tied, or today you see Milwaukee in first place, Kansas City in first place, Oakland battling. This couldn't have happened 10, 15, 18 years ago. No matter what anybody says, it couldn't happen -- and it didn't happen. So that's the thing I'm proudest of.

"[So] do I have regrets? I really don't. The only thing I wish I could've [prevented] was losing the '94 World Series, that whole labor situation. Painful. Heart-breaking. Really broke my heart. But, as a history buff, as you look back on things in the retrospective history, we've now had 21, 22 years of labor peace, and maybe it took that to finally [understand].

"We had eight work stoppages in my baseball career, from 1970 to the present. It was every two or three years. It was painful. And the sport was getting hurt. That's why gross revenues have grown from a billion or two to this year $9 billion. I really believe labor peace is really the primary reason for that."

Another of Selig's proudest moments as Commissioner was the retirement of Jackie Robinson's jersey No. 42. Selig doesn't see any other number joining No. 42 as retired by all of Major League Baseball.

"Jackie Robinson coming to the big leagues April 15, 1947, Ebbets Field, is the most powerful and important moment, in my judgment, in baseball history," Selig said. "There's no question about it. You think about what Branch Rickey did 3 1/2 years before Harry Truman desegregated the armed forces, seven years before Brown vs. Board [of Education], 18 years before the civil rights movement.

"[Robinson] succeeded, and I've heard from people who played with him, against him. I've certainly heard from his wife, [Rachel], and daughter, [Sharon, author and MLB Breaking Barriers ambassador]. It was a painful, bitter, nasty period, but fortunately, he made it. And as a result, my friend Henry Aaron came, and Willie Mays and Bob Gibson, and on and on and on.

"We're working hard to try to increase our African-American participation," Selig noted, and there was evidence of that in this year's Little League World Series, with Chicago's Jackie Robinson West team representing the U.S. in the final.

"But no, I don't see any other number. Jackie's number deserves to be alone there, in my opinion," Selig said.

Selig was in Cincinnati for the grand opening of the Reds' new Urban Youth Academy, further cementing his legacy when it comes to youth in baseball.

"It's one of the things I'm proud of," Selig said. "I'm proud of the clubs -- the Cincinnati club, in this case. Clubs didn't do this years ago. To think that a baseball team reaches out in that community, creates a wonderful safe haven for people who don't have that opportunity, they give the opportunity to people who don't have the opportunity. You just couldn't be prouder. Today was an exceptional day, a really exceptional day.

"And the sport overall is doing well, but one of the reasons it's doing well is because we are a social institution that lives up to its social responsibilities. And if this wasn't an example of that, then there isn't an example. That's how good it was. And that's how important it was."

Selig's impact on the youth of baseball, especially, cannot be understated.

Take it from me.

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Price hopes Cozart's defense isn't overlooked

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Price hopes Cozart's defense isn't overlooked play video for Price hopes Cozart's defense isn't overlooked

CINCINNATI -- Reds manager Bryan Price agrees that, in this case, the numbers don't lie.

Zack Cozart led all shortstops in Defensive Runs Saved (+21) and Ultimate Zone Rating (11.5) entering Sunday, according to Fangraphs.com. Price, who watches Cozart every day, has no subjective reason to disagree that Cozart has been the best defensive shortstop in baseball this season.

"Every ball he gets to seems to end up in his glove, and then he makes an accurate throw to first base," Price said. "It's really been a great year for him. I hope it's not overlooked."

Cozart helped preserve Saturday night's 1-0 victory over Atlanta by staying with Tommy La Stella's hard-hit grounder in the seventh inning, then flipping the ball to second base well ahead of the runner for an inning-ending forceout to leave the bases loaded.

The 29-year-old shortstop came into Sunday having committed just one error since the All-Star break and eight overall. Only three full-time shortstops in baseball had fewer errors and only three had a better fielding percentage than Cozart's .985.

"No one takes more pride in his defense," Price said.

Cozart has not contributed as much offensively, although three hits on Sunday bumped his season average from .220 to .225. The highest his average has reached this season is .238, on July 9.

"It stands out more if he hits .260 and has 23 errors that have led to some problematic losses," Price said. "You must have defense in that position. It hasn't been a great year for him offensively, but I appreciate that he's been able to separate the two."

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'Invested' Chapman shows his shoulder is fine

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'Invested' Chapman shows his shoulder is fine play video for 'Invested' Chapman shows his shoulder is fine

CINCINNATI -- Aroldis Chapman's first stop when he arrived at Great American Ball Park on Saturday was the manager's office.

"He walked in and said, 'I expect to be used tonight,'" Reds manager Bryan Price said. "That's not a conversation you expect at that point. He said it before he even had his workout clothes on."

Cincinnati's three-time All-Star closer had worked one inning against Atlanta on Thursday to test his sore shoulder and two innings during an extra-innings loss on Friday. In his most recent outing before the Atlanta series started, Aug. 17 at Colorado, Chapman had issued four walks without recording an out, then reported shoulder problems.

Chapman showed no signs of physical, mental or emotional fatigue Saturday, striking out the side in the ninth inning to preserve the Reds' 1-0 victory over the Braves.

His 27th save of 2014 follows 38-save seasons in '12 and '13. Chapman's insistence on being available to his team, even in the dog days of August during a trying season, may have been more important than the save itself.

"There has certainly been a huge evolution," Price said of Chapman, who signed with the Reds in 2010 after defecting from Cuba. "He is getting comfortable with baseball and getting assimilated to his teammates, and I don't think it's come real easy for him. He's very, very invested."

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New Urban Youth Academy a point of pride in Cincy

Commissioner Selig, Hall of Famers Robinson and Morgan on hand for opening

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Four practice fields, immaculately groomed and replete with floodlights and grandstands. A 33,000-foot indoor practice facility with another field, batting cages and pitching mounds, plus a weight room.

And that all-too-familiar architecture.

No, I'm not talking about the Reds' player development complex in Goodyear, Ariz. But the facility in Roselawn Park in the Cincinnati area is about as close as it gets, with one major exception.

You'll find a classroom -- not a clubhouse -- nestled in the corner of the complex.

See, this one's for the kids.

The Reds and MLB on Friday unveiled the newly built Reds Urban Youth Academy, designed to play host to the greater Cincinnati area's RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program. RBI offers area kids ages 7-18 the opportunity to participate in baseball and softball clinics, character development programming, and even academic tutoring and vocational training -- all free of charge.

The Reds are known around the Major Leagues as one of the forerunners when it comes to these youth initiatives, which is no easy task.

"We started operating programs back in 2003, and as they began to grow, we realized that we needed to offer something that was year-round," explained Reds Community Fund executive director Charley Frank. "For baseball to succeed in the urban core, they really need a handful of key ingredients, and one of those ingredients is indoor training space."

Ergo, the RBI program moved into an old Cincinnati Public Schools building for indoor training in the fall and winter, which it would outgrow as it expanded.

That's when Frank and the Reds turned their eyes toward building a new facility, something Major League Baseball had success with previously.

"It wasn't long after we took RBI and tried to make it year-round in the Fall of '09 that we started talking to Major League Baseball," Frank explained. "We were aware of the Compton [Calif., Urban Youth Academy] facility, and they were in the process of completing the Houston complex, which was their second one. And they had also announced [new facilities] in Miami and Philadelphia. It's been about that time, and in those three or four years we have been working with the city and working with the league to identify different sites."

By 2010, the deal was sealed.

"When Major League Baseball and when the Reds brass was brought here by the city," Frank said, sitting in the Bud Selig Conference Room at the Roselawn Park facility, "it was one of those 'a ha!' moments where everyone seemed to have the same epiphany at the same time, and the city was very interested in being a part of it."

And so it was that Friday, the Reds and title sponsor Proctor & Gamble opened the doors of the P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy with a full slate of events, including a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Commissioner Selig and Reds stars past (Hall of Famers Frank Robinson and Joe Morgan) and present (Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce).

Suffice it to say that all were impressed.

"For those of you who cover me regularly, I say baseball is a social institution," Selig said a press conference for Cincinnati media. "And to be at the academy this morning, see what they've done, is a remarkable experience and proves to me again what a social institution this is, and I congratulate the Castellinis [Reds president and CEO Bob Castellini and COO Phil Castellini] and the Reds. It not only made my day, but it makes one very proud to see the kind of contributions that a baseball team can make, and this was really remarkable.

"I'm just blown away by it. I knew it would be good, but I didn't think it would be that good. But again, here they are living up to what I believe as a social institution and responsibilities. I saw those kids today and I don't know how else to say it: It makes me proud to be the Commissioner of Baseball when you see something like this."

For Frank, that was the ultimate compliment.

"We're very pleased that the Commissioner was as excited as he was earlier today. For Frank Robinson and Joe Morgan and Bud Selig to be here today and to see the emotion in their faces and to hear it in their voices, it's just impossible to describe what this day means to us. I'm sure emotionally it's going to take us a long time to sort through it all and figure out what it all means to us, but it really was a wonderful, wonderful day," Frank said.

The new facility's effect on services offered by the academy is immeasurable, according to longtime volunteer and coach Mark Fowler, who also serves as a police sergeant for the City of Cincinnati.

"For one, as you look around, the facility is beautiful. If you think about it in this context, this indoor facility is 120 [feet]-by-120 [feet]. What we had at our old site, down at Old Cape High School, that was only 60-by-60," Fowler noted. "And that's one of the advantages right here. We'll effectively be able to handle more kids, we have more space to give the instruction, along with we're incorporating a vocational program where we're going to start teaching umpire skills, and we want to [teach] field management to start.

"So we have those programs, plus along with what we have is a [University of Cincinnati] program. They get involved and they do a clubhouse for us when we do our fundamental skills camp. That involves [taking a] limited-skill person -- and that could be at age 8 all the way up to age 13 -- and we run them through an eight-week program, and involve in that the UC program, and they teach character-building skills through a baseball theme. So that's what we do here, and that's the advantages here. And with this new facility, we can house more kids, and we can touch more families up here and help out."

Frank and Fowler know that their work is far from done.

"Today is a celebration of the end of part of the journey," Frank said. "It was an opportunity to just stop for a moment and celebrate this incredible accomplishment that required P&G and the league and the city and so many others and just to stop for a moment and soak it all in. it was very restorative for people that have been working hard on it.

"Our challenge going forward now is, how do we make this exceptional? How do we take what's been a good curriculum the last five years and really start to do some dynamic things with it?"

Friday was also an opportunity for the city of Cincinnati to celebrate with a public celebration held all evening and featuring free food, music and a fireworks show.

"Tonight is an important opportunity for us to just welcome the city back in," Frank said. "This has been a work site for over a year. The community has very graciously allowed us to take over the park, which the end result is very exciting, but that's not very convenient for people. Even in the spring, when the fields were heavily in use, a lot of the park was still blocked off and parking wasn't really convenient. So we really wanted to have a night where we could just tell the community that we appreciated their support and patience and we wanted to do something nice for the people here that make the park their home.

But the academy is sure to pay dividends for the city.

"It's [going to help with] more of the social ills our kids get involved with," Fowler, a 20-year police force veteran, explained. "Because that's what they're seeing every day, day-to-day, and we kind of want to change that and give them a new outlook, give them somewhere else to go, somewhere nice to come and play so they can feel welcome and wanted. So we're just trying to instill in them that somebody out there cares, and that's what we want to get across to the community."

After all, that's what it's all about.

"I meet smiling faces all the time," Fowler said. "Just think how many more smiling faces are going to come in and out of the door."

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Reds end skid at seven behind strong Leake

Righty throws 6 2/3 scoreless innings, scores run on Phillips' single

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Reds end skid at seven behind strong Leake play video for Reds end skid at seven behind strong Leake

CINCINNATI -- Finally, after more than a week, Reds manager Bryan Price could exhale.

"I kept trying to remind myself to breathe," Price said Saturday night after Cincinnati snapped a seven-game losing streak by outlasting Atlanta, 1-0, at Great American Ball Park. "Our last win was on [Aug. 15]. And it was not just the seven losses, it was the fashion in which we did it -- the gut-wrenching losses.

"But tonight we pitched well, we defended well and we got timely hitting. It was good to see."

It was especially good for the Reds to see right-hander Mike Leake (10-11) work 6 2/3 shutout innings and score the game's only run. Leake had only three wins in his previous 10 starts and had given up nine earned runs over 12 innings during his two most recent outings.

Leake wasn't available for comment after the game, but he was the player everyone was talking about.

"He was unbelievable," Reds catcher Brayan Pena said.

"He had A-grade stuff," Price said.

"He was actually throwing a lot of fastballs," Atlanta left fielder Justin Upton said. "He threw a lot of two-seamers and cutters and mixed in his slider. He kept the ball down and was getting some calls down. That gave him some confidence throwing the ball down in the zone, and he just located really well."

Atlanta's Emilio Bonifacio led off the game with a single through the right side, but Leake retired 17 of the next 18, striking out the side in the fifth inning. During the seventh inning, however, the Braves appeared ready to ruin Leake's evening and extend Cincinnati's losing streak.

Andrelton Simmons led off with a double. Leake struck out the next two batters, then issued two walks. Price, with Leake having thrown 110 pitches, summoned Jumbo Diaz from the bullpen.

"[Leake] said, 'I can get [Tommy La Stella] out, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't running out of gas a little bit,'" Price said. "I appreciated his honesty. I would have hated for him to say it after a two-run single."

Cincinnati shortstop Zack Cozart was able to hang tough on La Stella's laser-beam ground ball and complete the forceout, extinguishing the threat.

"I wasn't trying to catch it; I was trying to body it up," Cozart said. "I figured if I knocked it down I could still get it to [second baseman Brandon Phillips] on time."

Jonathan Broxton worked a scoreless eighth and Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth for his 27th save.

The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 56 minutes by rain. When play finally did begin, however, it moved quickly. Leake and Braves right-hander Ervin Santana (13-7) matched zeros until the Reds finally broke through in the sixth.

Leake led off the inning with a first-pitch double down the left-field line and was sacrificed to third by Billy Hamilton. Leake's 67 career hits since his 2010 debut are the most of any Major League pitcher.

Phillips worked the count full with two outs, fouled off a pitch, then drove an RBI single into the gap in left-center to give the Reds a 1-0 lead.

Santana allowed one hit through the first five innings, a Jack Hannahan single.

"Our pitching was outstanding and their pitching was a little better," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

The Reds had lost 10 of 11 before Saturday's win. Cincinnati avoided falling eight games under .500 for the first time since 2009.

"We really needed that, especially against the Braves, a team playing pretty good baseball," Pena said.

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600 games in, Hannahan trying to get better

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CINCINNATI -- Saturday was a day for Jack Hannahan to make a rare appearance in Cincinnati's starting lineup --and to reflect on how he got there. The 34-year-old Hannahan appeared in his 600th Major League game when he started at first base against the Braves.

"I had friends ask me in the offseason if I planned to go back [for Spring Training]," Hannahan said. "It was never a question for me. I'm still trying to get better every year and, in some ways, I feel like I'm still improving."

Offseason right shoulder surgery put Hannahan on the disabled list until July 27. Saturday was his fifth start since being activated.

Reds manager Bryan Price said Hannahan has worked hard to be ready for his opportunities to play. His reputation is as a solid defensive corner infielder, and Hannahan was a full-time starter for the A's and Mariners in 2008-09 and the Indians in 2011-12.

"There are a lot of players in every organization and I am very glad for [A's general manager] Billy Beane giving me my first opportunity in Oakland," Hannahan said. "When I got to Cleveland, I was done looking in the rearview mirror. I had confidence in my ability to play every day and get the job done."

Hannahan is no longer playing every day, but he has adjusted to pinch-hitting and starting on occasion.

"I've done a better job of being ready with experience," Hannahan said. "In the American League, you might have a stretch of 15 to 20 games where you don't play. In the National League, it's different. You need to be ready to perform every day. I take pride in never being surprised."

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After long day, Corcino ready for fresh start

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After long day, Corcino ready for fresh start play video for After long day, Corcino ready for fresh start

CINCINNATI -- Daniel Corcino made up for lost time Saturday … or, more accurately, lost sleep.

The Reds' newly promoted right-handed reliever was prepared to pitch on zero hours of sleep Friday while warming up in the bullpen during the Reds' 3-1 loss to the Braves. He had been told of his callup from Double-A Pensacola following Thursday night's game at Jacksonville. The team flight landed in Pensacola at 4 a.m. ET. Corcino was back at the airport at 9 a.m. to catch a plane to Cincinnati.

"Yesterday was a long day," Corcino said. "After the game last night, I went out to dinner, went to my hotel room and slept until [noon] today."

Friday was a long but exciting day for the Dominican rookie, who turns 24 on Tuesday. His success at Pensacola (10-11, 4.13 ERA, 113 strikeouts in 143 2/3 innings) came after having struggled at Triple-A Louisville in 2013 (7-14, 5.86 ERA).

Corcino, ranked by MLB.com as the Reds' No. 11 prospect, said the first item on his 2014 agenda was "forgetting about last year."

"I never got disappointed," Corcino said. "I saw [Reds special assistant to the general manager] Mario Soto about a month ago. He told me, 'Keep going. You'll be there. You're doing a good job. They see that.'"

Corcino has been a full-time starter since 2010, but he will pitch in a relief role for Cincinnati. He said he has previous experience as a reliever during winter ball.

{"event":["prospect" ] }
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