Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips (4) points at shortstop Zack Cozart after forcing out Detroit Tigers' Gerald Laird (9) at second base in the third inning of a baseball game, Friday.
Associated Press Enlarge
CINCINNATI — Standing on third base, 90 feet from winning the game, Miguel Cairo noticed that pinch-hitter Wilson Valdez was giving him a look that suggested he had something in mind.
Valdez's safety squeeze with one out in the 10th inning sent the Cincinnati Reds to a 6-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night, an improvised ending to a game that had a little bit of everything.
Home runs. Blown leads. A ball that hugged the outfield wall.
It was the Reds' first game-ending bunt since June 26, 1990, when Jeff Reed did it for a 3-2 win over San Francisco in 12 innings.
"It was something I decided," Valdez said. "I feel I can put down a perfect bunt."
Cairo started the rally against left-hander Phil Coke (1-2) with his first triple of the season, a ball that rolled into the right field corner and hugged the wall, skittering past Matt Young.
"It touched every part of the wall," Young said. "I took some balls [there] in batting practice, and no ball did what that ball did. It hugged the wall the whole time and gave Cairo a chance to get to third. It's tough and cost us a game."
One out later, Valdez came up and decided to bunt. His biggest challenge was making sure Cairo knew it was coming.
"He was looking at me, and I was like, ‘Here we go,'?" Cairo said. "I was expecting it. I know he likes to do it. It was a perfect bunt."
Cairo waited until Valdez got the bunt down to take off for home. The ball went to first baseman Prince Fielder, who grabbed it with his bare hand and flipped it home. Cairo went in headfirst and got his left hand on the plate ahead of the tag, securing the Reds' 13th win in 19 games.
"That was outstanding judgment by [Cairo] on knowing when to run and a great slide at home plate," manager Dusty Baker said.
Sam LeCure (2-1) pitched two innings, striking out three of the six batters he faced.
Joey Votto had three hits for Cincinnati, including a three-run homer off Rick Porcello. Votto extended his hitting streak to 14 games, matching the longest of his career.
"I've felt really good lately," Votto said. "A lot of things that weren't going right earlier in the season I've been able to clear up."
Brennan Boesch and Delmon Young homered for the Tigers, who had never played at Great American Ball Park, which opened in 2003. Detroit's first series in town since 2001 — and a postgame fireworks show to Motor City music — drew the Reds' fourth sellout crowd of the season.
Cincinnati's Chris Heisey made two diving catches in center field, the second robbing Fielder of a hit. Fielder went 0-for-4 with a walk, ending his 14-game hitting streak.
Some of the Tigers took early batting practice, working on their swings while getting an idea of how the ball carries at the unfamiliar ballpark. Answer: It really flies.
Votto's homer in the third inning made it 54 straight games with at least one homer at Great American, the longest ongoing streak in the majors. There hasn't been a homerless game in the ballpark since July 29.
During his 14-game streak, Votto has gone 28-of-51 (.549) with three homers and eight doubles.
Boesch came into the game in a 4-for-42 slump. He connected on a solo homer off Mat Latos, the 12th homer the right-hander has allowed in a dozen starts. It was Boesch's first homer since May 17.
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