After defensive spills, a walk-off thrill for Reds

After defensive spills, a walk-off thrill for Reds

After defensive spills, a walk-off thrill for Reds
CINCINNATI -- Another walk-off win was achieved by the Reds on Sunday afternoon, but manager Dusty Baker was a little edgy nonetheless.

Sure, the final score showed the Reds as 5-4 winners over the Cubs on Ryan Hanigan's game-ending RBI single that gave them three of four in the series and a 5-2 homestand. But two columns over on the line score, Cincinnati had three errors to Chicago's none. Two of the errors led to runs scoring, including the tying run against Mat Latos in the top of the eighth.

"One of the best general managers I was under, Al Rosen, was more upset on an ugly win than he was on just a regular loss," Baker said. "You want to make sure you don't continue to play like that. But you don't want to stress it so much that you put undue pressure on the situation and make it worse, too. It's a fine line."

The Reds entered Sunday tied for second in the National League with a .985 fielding percentage and were second outright in fewest errors with 68. During the last seven games, including Sunday, the team committed 10 errors. And that had Baker perplexed.

"Is there stink in the field?" Baker wondered. "We have to go back to total concentration and wanting to do better and taking pride in it."

There were two errors in Saturday's 9-7 loss to the Cubs in Game 2 of the doubleheader, with both leading to runs scoring. On Thursday, there were three errors, with all resulting in runs scoring.

"Lately, every time we make an error, it opens the door," Baker said before the game. "We just have to play better and be conscious of playing better defense. I've talked to them about it the other day. I have to talk about it again. Hitting wins you games, generally speaking, and defense loses you games. But all everybody sees is the hitting part."

That meeting was held during the previous road trip in Chicago. Players in the clubhouse weren't concerned about being undermined by their own mistakes.

"We've got tons of Gold Glovers on the team. We've got guys who work their tails off at batting practice every day," first baseman Todd Frazier said. "It's one of those things that happens. We pride ourselves on defense. A bad bounce here or bad throw there, it's going to happen. It's how you bounce back. Were we disappointed? Of course. But it's really about getting W's in the column. We took three out of four, and our defense will be fine."

A defensive gaffe enabled the Cubs to tie the game in the eighth. With a runner on first and one out, Luis Valbuena hit a drive towards the warning track in right field. Jay Bruce appeared to be tracking the ball on the run before the ball popped in and out of his glove for an error that put runners on second and third base. David DeJesus scored the unearned, but tying, run on an Alfonso Soriano groundout to third base. It cost Latos a chance at a win, despite eight mostly solid innings.

Starlin Castro then grounded and reached on another Reds error as shortstop Zack Cozart made a bad throw to first base. In an alert make-good, Frazier fired to third base and nailed Valbuena to end the inning after he rounded the bag too far and couldn't dive back in time.

"That wasn't quite his fault," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Valbuena. "It was one of those plays that happened that was an unfortunate finale to a play, but you can't throw all that on him either."

"The first instinct is the lead runner for sure," Frazier said. "Maybe he's breaking for home, you never know. It was a little wide and I thought I couldn't touch the base. When I figured out and finally caught it at first, my first look was to third base. We got him. It was a pretty cool play."

Aroldis Chapman pitched a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts, despite allowing a one-out double to Brett Jackson. In a good defensive moment, Jackson was thrown out by Hanigan trying to steal third base. It was a risky play on Jackson's part.

"Chapman is tough to put together hits against," Hanigan said. "I could see why they did it, but he didn't get a good jump. As soon as I saw the jump he had when Chapman was in his delivery, I thought, 'I had a good shot here.' It worked out."

It took only two pitches from Cubs reliever Shawn Camp to end the game. Pinch-hitting and leading off the bottom of the ninth, Xavier Paul laced a stand-up triple to the right-field corner to put Camp in deep trouble. The next batter was Hanigan, who hit a drive to deep center field over the drawn-in outfield to end the game.

Hanigan, the No. 8 hitter on the Reds, is batting .429 (8-for-21) over his last eight games. He's often pitched around to get to the pitcher. That couldn't happen, as Scott Rolen was on deck to pinch-hit for Chapman.

"I get pitched around sometimes, but that is part of the game," Hanigan said. "I try to have good at-bats when I have the opportunity. I had two today, and fortunately, it worked out. It felt good to drive in a few runs.

"To get a win, even when we have a game like this, I think it is what it is. We've been playing good defense. We've been pitching. We didn't play our best today and still got a win. I will take an ugly win over a loss any day."

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.