Phillips drops hammer to push Reds past Friars

Phillips drops hammer to push Reds past Friars

Phillips drops hammer to push Reds past Friars
CINCINNATI -- There was some confidence shown by the Reds' front office toward the team's hitters by not adding another bat at the Trade Deadline. Sure, it looked around, but it wasn't willing to give up too much.

The lineup rewarded that decision Tuesday during a 7-6 Reds win over the Padres. First, it staked Homer Bailey to an early 6-0 lead. After Bailey gave up that lead during a six-run fourth inning, it was Brandon Phillips who saved the day with the game-winning home run in the seventh.

"I think we believe in one another. Believing is half the battle," said left fielder Ryan Ludwick, who tallied four RBIs. "I don't think anyone in here, player-wise, was panicked about us not making a move [for a hitter]."

It was a 6-6 game with one out in the seventh when Phillips hit a 2-0 pitch from Padres starter Jason Marquis for a homer into the left-field seats, his 13th of the season. Out of Phillips' 62 RBIs, 23 have given the Reds a lead.

Phillips did not return for the eighth inning because of a strained left calf, the same muscle that cramped up on him Sunday in Colorado and forced an early exit. It turned out that the injury was bothering him all night Tuesday and manager Dusty Baker had to resist lifting him from the game earlier.

"'Hey B, just go out there and hit a home run, you don't have to worry about running the bases. I'm going to take you out if you hit a double or a single,'" Phillips said Baker told him. "I said, 'All right, I'll see what I can do.' Next thing you know, I end up hitting a home run, and I just looked at him and just smiled. I'm just glad I could go out there and tough it out and try to be a hero. I'm just glad we won the game."

For the second straight night, a Reds starter blew an early lead on the strength of one frame. On Monday, Mike Leake had a 3-0 first-inning lead, only to give up five second-inning runs and not get out of the frame in an 11-5 loss.

On Tuesday, the Reds took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Ludwick's two-out RBI single. The lead stretched to 6-0 in a five-run third, all the runs coming with two outs. Ludwick returned to crush a three-run homer to right-center field against Marquis, and two batters later, Todd Frazier hit a two-run homer to left field.

Bailey saw his lead evaporate moments later as he faced nine batters in the fourth and didn't finish the inning. After a pair of one-out singles, Cameron Maybin smoked a first pitch for a three-run homer to the first row of seats in left field.

"Homer struggled in that inning," Baker said. "We couldn't get anybody loose quick enough. It happened so quickly. He made some decent pitches. The only real bad pitch he made was to Maybin. It was a hanging slider, which he rocketed out of here. It got them right back into the game."

With two outs in the fourth, Bailey gave up back-to-back RBI triples to Alexi Amarista and Will Venable. Chase Headley drove in Venable with an RBI single. In the past two nights, the Padres have had a six-run inning, a five-run inning and a four-run inning. Not bad for a club that came ranked last in the league with a .236 team average and 14th in runs scored.

"That was great," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Our guys never gave in and did it the right way. ... They didn't chip away."

Bailey, who was lifted after Carlos Quentin reached on an error, gave up six runs and nine hits over 3 2/3 innings.

"Things just started piling on top of one another," Bailey said. "We were right there, so close to getting out of that. Not a lot of balls were scorched other than the hanging slider. You're going to have those innings."

Bailey entered the night 4-0 with a 1.43 ERA in his previous five starts.

"Tonight we picked up Homer. He was throwing the ball outstanding as of late. We'll allow him this one hiccup," said Ludwick, who is batting .356 (16-for-45) with five homers and 16 RBIs in 14 games since Joey Votto has been out of the lineup on July 16.

It was a fantastic night for the Reds' bullpen, which was already taxed from working 7 1/3 innings on Monday. Sam LeCure replaced Bailey and worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings in a strong performance.

Sean Marshall followed LeCure with two perfect innings in the seventh and eighth for the victory. Aroldis Chapman notched his 22nd save with a perfect ninth.

"It's what you don't want two days in a row with an already depleted bullpen," Baker said. "I called on some guys to overextend some, but you've got to do that to win."

The Reds have done lots of winning lately -- 11 of 12 games and 18 out of 21 while finishing July with a 19-7 record, their highest victory total for the month since 1976. They remain in first place, three games ahead of the Pirates.

"We're playing good baseball," Ludwick said. "They came at us strong today. We put up those six runs and they came right back again. It was like 'Oh, here we go.' But we stopped the bleeding."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.