Reds work overtime, trim magic number

Reds work overtime, trim magic number

Reds work overtime, trim magic number
CHICAGO -- As the Reds try to prepare themselves for the postseason, they were given two optimistic signs on Wednesday.

In a 6-5 victory over the Cubs in 11 innings, Joey Votto's run production drought ended and Drew Stubbs emerged from his lengthy funk to get three hits, including the game-winning RBI single in the top of the 11th.

"Joey's been swinging the bat pretty well," said acting manager Chris Speier, who filled in while Dusty Baker was hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat. "It's just a matter of time getting men in scoring position for him. But the big thing was I was really happy for Drew. He's been having a tough time getting hits. To come up that big with the RBI game-winner, that was a great confidence boost for him."

The Reds' magic number to clinch the National League Central dropped to three, but no more after the Cardinals won their game vs. the Astros. Their magic number to clinch a Wild Card berth moved to one after the Dodgers split a doubleheader against the Nationals, and their 90-59 record moves them a half-game behind the Nats (90-58) for the NL's best record.

"We know it's going to come, but we're not jumping the gun or anything," said Stubbs, who was 3-for-5 with three runs scored. "We'll continue to play the way we have all year and let things take care of themselves."

It was 5-5 with two outs in the top of the 11th, after the Cubs overcame a 5-1 deficit, when Brandon Phillips hit a popup to shallow right field, where David DeJesus overran the ball as it kissed off of his glove for a two-base error. Stubbs followed with his RBI single to left field, and Phillips scored standing up ahead of a wild throw to the plate.

Stubbs, who also walked and stole a base in the game, is batting just .218 in what's been a trying season at the plate. He entered the night in a 1-for-19 stretch, which included an 0-for-16 funk that was snapped Tuesday.

"I knew it would come sooner or later," Stubbs said. "It feels good to finally have a multihit game and contribute to a win."

Votto was responsible for three early runs as he hit an RBI double into the swirling wind in left field that scored Stubbs in the top of the first inning. It was Votto's 40th double of the season, which matched his career high.

"You're a little shocked there weren't a few more home runs the way that wind was blowing," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.

With one out in the third, Cincinnati notched five straight singles against Cubs starter Chris Rusin. Votto's single into left field scored starter Mike Leake and Phillips. Ryan Ludwick followed with an RBI single to left field, scoring Stubbs, before exiting as a precaution with groin tightness.

Votto, who was injured with torn cartilage in his left knee from July 16-Sept. 3, had gone 11 games without an RBI since returning to the lineup. His last RBI was on July 15, but he has reached safely in 28 of his 55 plate appearances since coming back.

Leake started off strong but finished with four runs and six hits allowed over six innings, with two walks and one strikeout. He retired his first 11 batters but was burned by frequent two-out rallies. The big trouble came in the bottom of the sixth, when Leake gave up four straight two-out hits that included Alfonso Soriano's two-run homer to left field, his 30th of the season.

The tying run scored in the eighth in a rare poor night for Reds rookie reliever J.J. Hoover, who gave up three walks and a hit, including Welington Castillo's bases-loaded walk on four pitches. It snapped the Reds' bullpen scoreless streak at 23 2/3 innings.

But the bullpen came through in the end as Sam LeCure worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings and winning pitcher Logan Ondrusek escaped in the bottom of the 10th after having runners on second and third with one out and the bases loaded with two outs. Jonathan Broxton pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his fourth save with the Reds.

Baker departed for the hospital only a few hours before first pitch, which gave the Reds' bench coach an opportunity to manage in a big game.

"You get a little nervous, but it's exciting," Speier said. "It's something I look forward to maybe getting a chance on a more regular basis, but not here, not this year. I could have used not an extra-inning game and go through everybody like we did. But everybody played well."

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.