"As long as we get it done. As long as we get a 'W,'" said Reds manager Dusty Baker, whose team came in losers of six of the previous seven games.
It was a 'W' gained the hard way, for sure, as the Reds picked up a half-game on the idle first-place Cardinals. Second-place Cincinnati is one game back in the National League Central.
The Reds, who were just swept three games at Seattle without hitting a single homer, came into the night with one run scored over their last 30 innings. They equaled that total in the first inning against A's lefty Gio Gonzalez on Joey Votto's RBI double. But that was it until the ninth, as Oakland pitchers retired a string of 21 out of 23 batters until the top of the ninth.
It was a 1-1 game when Drew Stubbs drew a two-out walk from Bailey and stole second base. Jay Bruce, who sat due to a 4-for-25 (.160) skid over his previous seven games, lined a pinch-hit single into right field that easily scored Stubbs for the go-ahead run.
Just as one problem seemed to be solved, another one popped up. This time, it was Reds closer Francisco Cordero, who blew his fifth save in 22 chances this season -- that is one more blown save than he had in all of 2009.
Cordero's first pitch to leadoff hitter Kevin Kouzmanoff was hit the opposite way for a homer that barely cleared the right-field fence. But it was enough to send it into extra innings.
Ramon Hernandez picked up Cordero (3-3) and sent him on his way to the victory when he hit a 1-0 pitch from reliever Michael Wuertz off of the left-field foul pole. It was Hernandez's third homer of the season and the Reds' first long ball since Thursday.
"I was trying to get a good pitch to hit, get on base," Hernandez said. "I got lucky that ball hit the pole."
Brandon Phillips followed with a single and advanced on a sacrifice. Against lefty Cedrick Bowers on a 3-1 pitch, Joey Votto followed with a booming two-run homer to left-center field. Scott Rolen equaled Votto with the team lead of 15 homers when he followed with a homer to left field on a 2-1 pitch.
"Those were some stupid pitches, man. Stupid," Bowers yelled in the Oakland clubhouse.
And just like that, a 39-inning streak without a homer was over.
"We lead the league in all of those offensive categories for a reason," Bruce said. "We know we can hit. We've had some bad luck and bad draws with the opposing pitching. But we have to beat good pitchers to be the team we want to be. We hit a lull the last couple of days, but we're fine."
Cordero was brought back for the bottom of the 10th and seemed destined to give the game away a second time. Lacking command, Cordero walked his first two batters.
"He just couldn't find the plate," Baker said. "It wasn't a matter of pitches or gas or anything. He hadn't been out there in a while for a save situation since we haven't needed him. Perhaps, he was just rusty and he'll be better tomorrow."
Daniel Ray Herrera followed by allowing first batter Kurt Suzuki's single that loaded the bases with no outs and brought the tying run to the plate. Ryan Sweeney's groundout to second base got one run in. With Jordan Smith in for Herrera, a Kouzmanoff groundout got in another run. But Smith was able to close the game by striking out Jack Cust for his first big league save.
"It seemed like we were never going to get that last out," Baker said. "It's nice to win one and pick up a half-game and break this losing streak we were on."
Lost in the shuffle was Reds starter Mike Leake, who did not have great stuff, but allowed only one run over six innings with 96 pitches. Nick Masset shut down Oakland with 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief in an encouraging outing. Arthur Rhodes extended his scoreless streak to 29 innings in the eighth when he struck out his only batter.