A Reds fan called a sports writer before Saturday’s game and wondered how he could get in touch with the Reds so he could offer his advice to the hitters.
Manager Dusty Baker wasn’t getting it done, he said. The hitting coach, Brook Jacoby, needed some help. Who could he talk to? What was the number?
Calm down, he was told. It’s a long season. One game won’t make or break the Reds, even if Friday’s 9-2 loss to the first-place Cardinals at Great American Ball Park dented even the most optimistic fan’s attitude.
Hours after that call, the Reds provided therapy for their troubled fan base, bouncing back with a 4-2 victory over St. Louis in front of a sellout crowd of 40,740 in the second game of the series.
Home runs by Jay Bruce and Devin Mesoraco, great catches by Brandon Phillips, Shin-Soo Choo and an amazing grab by Bruce to take a home run away and a solid start from Mat Latos made the difference. Yet the most exciting play of the night might have been Joey Votto’s behind-the-back toss to Mat Latos at first for an out.
“It’s huge. Every win’s a big win, but against a division rival, it’s a good win,” said Latos, who improved to 6-0 by allowing two runs in seven innings. “Hopefully, we carry it into (Sunday).”
The Reds (37-25) moved within three games of St. Louis (40-22), which still has the best record in baseball. The Pirates (37-25) beat the Cubs 6-2 Saturday and remain tied for second.
The night didn’t start well for the Reds. St. Louis took a 1-0 lead in the second when John Jay’s broken-bat groundout scored Yadier Molina. The Reds tied it in the second on Bruce’s 10th home run of the season. He’s now tied with Choo for the team lead.
The Reds trailed 2-1 in the fifth when Mesoraco hit a solo home run to right.
“It was a fastball out over the plate,” he said. “I tried to go with it that way. I wasn’t sure if it was going to get out or not, and it had just enough.”
The Reds took their first lead in the series by scoring two runs in the sixth. Rookie Derrick Robinson, batting second for the first time in his career, led off the inning with his first career double and scored on Joey Votto’s double one batter later.
“It’s just a blessing,” said Robinson, who also doubled in the seventh. “They put me in the two hole, expecting me to get in base with some of the best hitters in baseball behind me.”
Later in the inning, Mesoraco delivered again with a bases-loaded RBI single. He had been hitting .212 with runners in scoring position.
“To come through in that situation was a good moment for me,” Mesoraco said.
Jonathan Broxton pitched a scoreless eighth, and Aroldis Chapman recorded his 16th save in the ninth.