In a pinch: Reds ring up series win

In a pinch: Reds ring up series win

CINCINNATI -- The Reds used up all of their fireworks for home runs a night earlier, so if they were going to treat their fans to a nice afternoon at Great American Ball Park, they'd have to do it without pyrotechnics.

No problem.

They wouldn't need home runs Saturday. They relied instead on small ball and a little help from the Brewers, whose sloppy defense kept a sixth inning alive that proved the pivotal point in what became a 4-3 victory for the Reds.

The biggest of those small-ball hits came not from a position player, but from a pitcher, though Micah Owings is hardly the bad-hitting pitcher who drags a bat to the plate.

Manager Dusty Baker used Owings as a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the sixth inning. Owings delivered.

"That was a big hit," Baker said. "A huge hit."

He wasn't exaggerating, either. For at the time, the Reds and right-hander Johnny Cueto trailed the Brewers and left-hander CC Sabathia, 2-1. But a single and a walk set the stage for what would turn the ballgame around.

With runners on first and second, Corey Patterson pushed a sacrifice bunt down the first-base line. Prince Fielder pounced quickly, picked up the bunt and bobbled it. By the time he found the handle, Patterson was safe at first and the bases were loaded.

Sabathia then retired the next two hitters, and for a moment it looked as if he might escape the mess untouched. All he had to do was retire Owings, a pitcher-turned-pinch-hitter, with the tying and go-ahead runs still on base.

"I love it," Owings said. "I've been blessed from an early age to be able to swing it [the bat]."

And swing it he did.

Owings, who couldn't recall ever having pinch-hit with two outs and the bases loaded, fell behind in the count. But Sabathia, who had never faced Owings, left a pitch just on the outside edge that Owings took a poke at.

He blooped a single over Fielder's head at first base. His single knocked in two unearned runs and gave the Reds the lead, 3-2.

Pinch-hitter Adam Rosales followed with a line-drive single to left-center field that knocked in a third run. His hit also finished the luckless Sabathia, who should have been out of the sixth without allowing a run.

But those are the bad things that happen to a ballclub like Milwaukee that's reeling under the weight of playoff expectations.

The Reds, however, have won six of their past seven games. They used power to beat the Brewers on Friday, and they used pitching and timely hitting to craft yet another victory over their Central Division rival on Saturday.

They got contributions from everywhere. No contribution, however, proved as big as Owings' was.

"I know I'm a lot better than what went on this year," said Owings, who came to the Reds as part of the Adam Dunn deal. "I feel a lot better now. In the decision to shut me down, at least they let me swing.

"I'm doing the best I can to help the team."

Justice B. Hill is a senior writer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.