Phillips caps big night by making Marlins pay

Phillips caps big night by making Marlins pay

CINCINNATI -- Brandon Phillips put on a show with his glove and bat on Wednesday night. The veteran second baseman delivered the decisive two-out, two-run double off reliever Nick Wittgren in the seventh inning that rallied the Reds to a 3-2 win over the Marlins, knocking Miami two games off the pace for the second National League Wild Card spot.

Miami carried a one-run lead into the seventh inning, and Wittgren put himself in a bind by allowing a leadoff infield single to speedy pinch-hitter Billy Hamilton. With two outs and first base open, the Marlins opted to intentionally walk Joey Votto to get to Phillips, who doubled to right-center on a 3-1 fastball.

"Joey has been on fire since the break," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "We've got Witt in there. If we go the other way, we bring in a lefty [Hunter Cervenka], who he's hit before. It was just a matter of just going after the righty instead of the lefty."

Phillips had two doubles and scored a run, and he also turned in two splendid defensive plays to help out starter Homer Bailey, who gave up two runs (one earned) in five innings.

Phillips' leaping catch

"I was just trying to look for a ball out over the plate and find a gap," Phillips said. "That was basically it. I was happy that we came through. It felt good."

Marlins right-hander Andrew Cashner made it through five-plus innings, allowing one run. Marcell Ozuna hit his second home run of the series, a solo shot in the fourth inning, and the Marlins went ahead, 2-1, in the fifth, capitalizing on Eugenio Suarez's error at third on Ozuna's two-out grounder.

Ozuna's home run in the 4th

The Marlins have dropped back-to-back games in the series, and are now also a game behind the Pirates in the Wild Card chase.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Phillips is also glovin' it: Back in the Reds' lineup after missing two games with a left knee contusion, Phillips made two highlight-worthy defensive plays at second base. In the third inning, he made a leaping catch on Martin Prado's line drive for the second out. In the fifth, Phillips ran to his right to stop Dee Gordon's grounder up the middle and made a leaping throw across his body to first base for the first out.

Phillips' play up the middle

"[It] doesn't look like he skipped a beat," Reds manager Bryan Price said of Phillips' defense after missing the first two games of the series. More >

Cashner minimizes through five: There were some rough patches along the way, but Cashner made it into the sixth inning, coming up with enough effective pitches to minimize serious damage. The righty also dealt with getting smacked in the face with his own foul bunt attempt in the top of the sixth. With a runner on first and two outs, Cashner tried to bunt his way on, but the ball deflected up off the left side of his face. He was shaken up but stayed in, eventually striking out. He faced one batter in the sixth inning, giving up a double to Suarez, before exiting after 93 pitches. He yielded five hits and four walks, one intentionally.

Cashner's bunt foul off his face

"I take some positives from it, but definitely wish I could have worked deeper into the game," Cashner said. More >

Bailey battles: In his fourth start back from Tommy John surgery, Bailey threw 96 pitches in his five innings, including a 36-pitch top of the fourth. It featured a full count to Ozuna before his home run and a 10-pitch clash vs. Cashner before he struck out.

Bailey strikes out six

"They put together some really good at-bats," Bailey said. "The home run, on a 3-2 slider that I just served it up to him, it didn't come out of the hand right. Yeah, they definitely made me work. They laid off some really close pitches that were out of the zone. But we were able to keep them at bay."

Yelich steals, Miami capitalizes: Now that the Marlins are minus two of their biggest power threats -- Giancarlo Stanton (left groin strain) and Justin Bour (right ankle sprain) are on the disabled list -- the offense is using more ways to manufacture runs. In the fifth inning, it was a stolen base by Christian Yelich after his two-out single. By getting into scoring position, Yelich ended up scoring on Ozuna's grounder that was misplayed for a two-base error by Suarez. The opportunistic play gave the Marlins a 2-1 lead.

Yelich scores on an error

"Obviously, we get two runs tonight, and one of them, they make an error," Mattingly said. "So we're not really throwing a bunch of runs up. You'd like to come to this ballpark and put a few up. But we've got to find a way to win a game, somehow, someway. Sometimes you've got to win, 2-1. Another times, 9-8. We haven't been able to put up enough wins lately."

QUOTABLE
"Nothing changes as far as our belief in this club and what we're going to be able to accomplish. Even though every game is big and every moment and everything you do is big, you know you've got a lot of baseball left. There's still 40-something games left. We've just got to keep going and be ready tomorrow." -- Mattingly, on slipping in the Wild Card race

"Josh Smith, who doesn't get a lot of those mid-game, high-leverage situations ... he's built a confidence in the staff and his teammates that he can handle that type of situation. He doesn't make it more than it is. That got us to [Blake Wood], who threw a terrific inning and then Tony [Cingrani] 1-2-3'd it in the ninth, which didn't give them a chance to get to some of their middle-order hitters that hit left-handed pitching better to the plate. Things went well for us tonight." -- Price, on his bullpen, which pitched three scoreless innings as Cingrani notched his 15th save

Cingrani closes the game

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Ichiro Suzuki's single in the fourth inning was career hit No. 3,005 for the 42-year-old right fielder. Ichiro is now two hits shy of Al Kaline (3,007) for 28th place on MLB's all-time list.

WHAT'S NEXT
Marlins: To stay within his season innings range, Jose Fernandez (12-6, 2.81 ERA) was skipped one start. The 24-year-old is now back in the rotation and will close out the four-game series with the Reds on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Fernandez has 198 strikeouts -- two away from being the sixth pitcher in club history to reach 200 in a season.

Reds: Dan Straily will get the ball for Cincinnati in Thursday night's series finale. The Reds have won all six of Straily's post-All-Star break starts, while he has gone 4-0 with a 2.13 ERA in those games.

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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.