Reds manager Dusty Baker called it the greatest double play at second base he’s ever seen. That’s saying something because he’s managed and played in more than 5,000 Major League games.
Sam LeCure, the pitcher on the mound at the time second baseman Brandon Phillips performed his magic act, wasn’t sure if Phillips threw the ball out of his ear or what. He was just thankful it happened and planned to reward Phillips by taking him out to dinner.
On the Fox Sports Ohio broadcast, Thom Brennaman called it “one of the best plays you’ll ever see.”
Even for Phillips, for whom the spectacular is routine, it was a special play, not only because it was unique — how many times do you see a guy tag second with his knee? — but because it helped propel the Reds to a 4-3 victory over the Brewers on Friday at Great American Ball Park.
“I don’t know how I made it,” Phillips said, “but I’m glad I made it.”
“That was a game-saver,” Baker said. “If we don’t turn that double play, who knows? There’s some dangerous guys up in that inning.”
The Reds (20-16) already had a 3-2 lead when DatDudeBP, as he’s otherwise known, put his stamp on the game.
The Brewers (15-18) had runners at first and second in the seventh when Ryan Braun grounded up the middle. Phillips fielded the ball with his right hand just above the base as he was falling to the ground. His left knee landed on second. At the same time, all in one motion, he threw to first around the sliding runner, Jean Segura, for the inning-ending double play.
“I just took a gamble and tried to turn a double play,” Phillips said. “I would have used my glove, but I knew it was going to be a short hop. I practice the short hops with the bare hand, but I never have a bag in the way. I think that’s my practice right there. I’ve tagged the bag with my knee plenty of times.”
If that wasn’t enough, Phillips was the second batter up in the bottom of the seventh and hit a no-doubt blast into the stands in left, giving the Reds a 4-2 lead and some breathing room for the final innings.
It was his sixth home run of the season, and Phillips said it felt good, even if he was kicking himself after the game for striking out with the bases loaded an inning later.
That strikeout didn’t matter, though. Aroldis Chapman gave up a run in the ninth, but still recorded his eighth save, completing a great night for the Reds bullpen.
Jonathan Broxton threw a scoreless eighth.
Reds starter Tony Cingrani lasted four innings and left with the score tied at 2-2. Alfredo Simon pitched a scoreless fifth and sixth to get the victory. Sam LeCure walked two in the seventh but didn’t allow a run.
The Reds got on the board in the third with a two-out rally.
A single by Phillips scored Shin-Soo Choo, who had walked to lead off the inning, and one batter later, Jay Bruce doubled to right to score Phillips.
The lead didn’t last. Cingrani was solid through three innings, but he gave up back-to-back home runs to Jean Segura and Ryan Braun to start the fourth.
Reds manager Dusty Baker decided to pull Cingrani, whose pitch count had already reached 85, after four innings. He gave up those two runs on five hits and struck out four.
The German rookie Donald Lutz pinch hit for Cingrani in the fourth and made Baker look wise by singling to right to lead off the inning. Lutz then stole second and scored the go-ahead run on a single by Zack Cozart.
Phillips’ play in the seventh was the third great play of the night by the Reds. Catcher Ryan Hanigan dove to snag a foul ball in the first, and Todd Frazier made a sliding catch in foul ground in the fifth.
“Our team is based on our defense and pitching,” Phillips said. “That’s the kind of team we have. We made some great plays today.”
Brewers at Reds, 4:10 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410