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Bailey's spunk gives Reds final laugh

Bailey's spunk gives Reds final laugh

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CINCINNATI -- There was no postseason for the Reds to leap into, only an offseason. But for game No. 162, it was clear that there was no mailing it in to get a jump on vacation.

Several good performances highlighted a 6-0 victory over a Pirates team that collected 10 hits. It began with starter Homer Bailey. In his six scoreless innings, Bailey gave up seven hits and three walks and struck out seven.

Needing five RBIs in his quest for 100 this season, Brandon Phillips drove in the Reds' first three runs of the game. Rookie center fielder Drew Stubbs, who has made massive strides as a candidate for next year's job, collected three hits and scored two runs. Joey Votto had three hits and finished with a .322 average.

Although it came way too late to make any waves in the division race, the Reds finished up winning 10 of their last 13 games and 27 of the past 40. They had the best record in baseball after Aug. 23 and went 20-11 over September/October.

Whether it offers any glimmers of hope for 2010 is debatable, but still encouraging nonetheless.

"I'm very pleased with the way we finished," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It just shows what we can do and hopefully we will. It's very encouraging. Everybody prays that we're healthy next year. If we're healthy, we're going to be in it."

Although he had baserunners in every inning except the top of the second, Bailey made pitches when he had to. In the fifth, he allowed a leadoff triple to pinch-hitter Steve Pearce and a walk to Andrew McCutchen before striking out the side.

"You could tell he didn't want to give up anything," Baker said. "That's part of the maturing process that he's getting better and he's advancing. When he got into trouble, that's when he reached back for more and made some quality pitches. It was great to get him that win."

In the sixth, Bailey gave up a leadoff walk before inducing a double play. Two more singles followed, but no runs.

"It was the last day of the season and a little chilly, I gutted through it," Bailey said. "I had a lot of run support and good defense. I got to end the season with a 'W' and that's always good."

In a stunning turnaround from well-chronicled big league struggles, the 23-year-old Bailey posted a 6-1 record and 1.70 ERA over his final nine starts.

"The way the team played the last month and a half made it a lot easier for me to go out there and try to get things done," Bailey said. "I owe them more credit than I do myself."

Phillips hit an RBI double to right field that scored Stubbs in the first inning and he drove in the leadoff man again in the third with a groundout to third base.

The big rally came with one out in the fifth against reliever Donnie Veal when Paul Janish walked and Joey Votto pushed a single though the right side of the infield. That set up Phillips, who drove another RBI double to right field for a total of 98 RBIs on the season.

Scott Rolen followed Phillips with a line drive that got past McCutchen in center for a two-run triple. Jay Bruce's rolling single up the middle scored Rolen and made it a six-run game.

Phillips had a golden chance to reach 100 RBIs when he batted in the sixth with the bases loaded and one out. He grounded into a double play at shortstop. He was on deck in the eighth when Votto made the third out and had to settle for the 98 RBIs.

"It was a great journey to try and get 100, but I just fell short," Phillips said. "That's the name of the game. Maybe one year, I'll be able to do it. It would have been nice this year."

The Reds finished 2009 with a 78-84 record and in fourth place in the National League Central. It was a season filled with injuries, which was one factor in a ninth consecutive losing season. But Baker went into the offseason quite optimistic.

"Everybody prays that we're healthy next year," Baker said. "If we're healthy, we're going to be in it."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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