It was a 3-3 game with two outs in the 10th when pinch-hitter Darnell McDonald lined a double over Ryan Braun's head in left field. Normally a sound defensive outfielder, Braun misread the ball and took a step in. The hit went to the wall and allowed Craig Tatum to score the go-ahead run from second base.
Cincinnati won three in a row for the first time since winning four straight games from May 24-28.
"It got in on me and it had a little funky spin," McDonald said of the ball he hit for the game-winning RBI. "I kind of got inside on it. When I came around first, I didn't even know where the ball was. I didn't know if he caught it or not. When things are going good, they're going good. I'm not going to complain."
Not to be overlooked was a sound spot start by Kip Wells, who filled in for Aaron Harang after Harang went out for the season with an appendectomy. Wells pitched five innings and allowed three earned runs on seven hits with three walks and two strikeouts during his first big league start since July 21, 2008, with the Rockies.
Wells had runners on base in each of his first four innings but left zeros on the Brewers' half of the line score. Leadoff singles in the first and third innings were erased each time by double plays. Two walks were allowed in the second inning but no price was paid.
The Reds had a 2-0 lead in the fifth when Wells started to fade. First, Jody Gerut hit a one-out homer to right field. After Braun walked with two outs on Wells' 91st pitch, Baker visited the mound while Jared Burton warmed in the bullpen.
After a lengthy chat, Baker left Wells in the game, knowing he had a taxed bullpen after a 13-inning game the previous night. The next pitch Wells threw was a misplaced sinker over the plate to Prince Fielder. It was tattooed 435 feet for a two-run homer inside the right-field foul pole and put the Reds down by a run.
"I didn't tell him to throw it down the middle and see how far he could hit it," Baker said. "We all knew he was out of gas. I told him to relax, that's the main thing. I know it looks bad when you go out and [people ask], 'What did you tell him?' I didn't tell him to throw the ball there. The next pitch, too. It looks bad, but we won the game."
"I just tried to do what I could," Wells said. "At that point it was kind of like, you're going to get yourself out or get a hit. I was not in a position where I could work him for the most part. For some reason, I ran out of gas. I fatigued to the point where I couldn't command what I had out there."
In the eighth, the Reds tied the game without getting a ball out of the infield. Scott Rolen reached on an infield single, went to second on a groundout and stole third base.
The critical play came on pinch-hitter Kevin Barker's bouncer back to the mound, where reliever Claudio Vargas looked Rolen back to third base and then airmailed his throw to first base for a two-base error that scored the runner.
One night after the bullpen blew a 6-1 ninth-inning lead, Reds relievers responded well. Nick Masset inherited a one-out bases-loaded jam in the seventh and got Casey McGehee to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Carlos Fisher tossed a scoreless eighth inning and lefty Daniel Herrera (3-4) pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his second victory in two nights. And one night after blowing a save in the ninth, closer Francisco Cordero pitched the bottom of the 10th inning for his 27th save. Baker had just one pitcher left in his bullpen in Micah Owings, who would have gone in had the Reds not taken the lead.
With one out in the 10th against Brewers reliever Mike Burns (3-5), Wladimir Balentien hit a ground-rule double. Balentien was out during Tatum's fielder's choice to the mound but stayed in a long rundown, enabling Tatum to reach second base.
Next was McDonald, who saved the day the previous night by throwing out Braun trying to score the winning run in the ninth to force extras. McDonald was called up on Tuesday, after he was designated for assignment by the Reds in May because he'd hit only .175.
"I just tried to learn from some things I did before," McDonald said. "Going up there tonight, I just wanted to be aggressive. It was something I didn't do earlier in the season. Fortunately, I got a ball to fall in there and we won the game."