PITTSBURGH -- Even Pirates fans had to appreciate the latest dazzling defensive play by Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips. His game-winning home run in the top of the 13th inning for a 5-4 Reds win late Thursday night? Probably not as much.
In the bottom of the eighth inning of a 4-4 game at PNC Park, Andrew McCutchen was on first base after a leadoff walk vs. reliever J.J. Hoover when Neil Walker hit a sharp grounder off the mound and up the middle. Phillips knocked the ball down from his knees before he slickly flipped the ball behind his back to Eugenio Suarez. The shortstop then fired it to first baseman Joey Votto to complete the 4-6-3 double play.
"Huge. Huge," Reds third baseman Todd Frazier exclaimed. "Me and the umpire were like, 'Nobody does that better.' He was like, 'Nobody,' just unbelievable. Suarez made a nice throw. It was all around, a great team effort today."
Hoover gave up two singles after Walker was retired, but got out of the inning without any runs scoring. The game remain deadlocked until Phillips led off the top of the 13th by hitting Rob Scahill's 2-1 pitch into the left-field seats for his fourth homer of the season.
Overall, Phillips was 3-for-7 in the game. He reached on an error in the first inning and scored and hit a two-out triple in the second inning.
The productive night came after Phillips was scratched from Wednesday's game with a jammed left thumb.
"He had a nice day," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He did a lot of good things, made some great plays, made that behind-the-back flip for a double play with Suarez up the middle. He did some good things. Stole a base. Went home to third on a triple with some vigor. It was big."