Cincinnati Reds right fielder Yasiel Puig showed off his speed, his baseball instincts and his sense of humor in the space of an hour Tuesday night.
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Puig singled to center with two outs in the 11th inning. Then he raced around second and rounded third base after a single to right by Jose Iglesias in the 11th inning. When Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Eric Thames couldn’t handle a low throw from right fielder Christian Yelich, Puig took a chance and sprinted for home, scoring ahead of a desperate flip throw by catcher Yasmani Grandal.
Three days earlier, Chicago Cubs reliever Pedro Strop called Puig stupid, and that insult was still on Puig’s mind after this 5-4 victory even if he didn’t appear to be taking great offense. He called himself stupid three times in a postgame interview.
“I said, ‘OK, let me try,’” said Puig after seeing the ball roll through the infield on the final play. “That’s (something) only myself can do, being Puig, being stupid — sometimes people call me (that). Some of the stupid things I do in baseball work for myself and work for the team.”
Puig showed aggressiveness on the basepaths throughout the 11th. He tried to steal second several times only to have Iglesias foul off pitches.
“I like to play the way I play,” Puig said. “Sometimes it’s ridiculous and stupid, and sometimes it works.”
The Reds (39-44) evened the series at 1-1 and moved within 5½ games of the first-place Brewers (46-40) with four games remaining before the All-Star break.
This was an unlikely victory because the Reds trailed 4-2 entering the seventh. Tanner Roark gave up home runs in three consecutive innings after Eugenio Suarez gave the Reds a 2-0 lead in the first.
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Puig started the comeback with a home run in the seventh. With two outs in the eighth, Joey Votto doubled to score Nick Senzel and tie the game.
The Reds bullpen kept the Brewers off the scoreboard and kept giving the offense chances to tie the game and then win it. Michael Lorenzen, Jared Hughes, Amir Garrett and Raisel Iglesias combined to throw 4 1/3 scoreless innings.
“Yasiel all night was just determined to score,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He tags from first (in the ninth). He was working hard to get a jump and steal a base that whole at-bat (in the 11th). … He willed that win with his baserunning, and Iggy with the great at-bat, he was fighting off good pitches and just kept working until he put one in play.Good things happen when you do that.”