PDT Sports Editor
CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Reds made a move to fortify their bullpen for a playoff run and also took a moment in a pregame ceremony to honor a team that knows a thing or two about postseason success Tuesday evening.
The 2012 Wheelersburg Pirates, who went 30-2 overall and defeated Lima Central Catholic 1-0 to win the Division III State Baseball Championship, were recognized on the field before the Reds’ game against the San Diego Padres at Great American Ball Park.
“It’s been a fun two months to say the least,” Wheelersburg coach Michael Estep said. “We have enjoyed every opportunity we have had, whether it be a meal or a few days ago when they were visiting the residents at River Bend. We decided to take the last few weeks to soak it in and just enjoy every moment of it.”
Each player and coach individually stepped forward for recognition before the crowd. Austin Hall said his teammates enjoyed their moment.
“Well, it doesn’t feel as good as state but it was pretty close to it,” Hall said. “This something we can all look back on.”
Perhaps the Reds borrowed some of Wheelersburg’s good energy as they put together a 7-6 win over the visiting Padres.
Just hours after the club acquired right-handed setup man Jonathan Broxton for a pair of minor leaguers, the Reds set out to start a new winning streak after their season-high 10-game streak came to an end in Monday’s 11-5 loss.
After a Chris Heisey double and a Wilson Valdez groundout that advanced Heisey to third, Ryan Ludwick had an RBI single to make it 1-0 through the first inning.
Homer Bailey had runners on second and third in the top of the third stanza, but escaped trouble by striking out Chase Headley.
Ludwick struck again in the bottom of the third with two outs. With Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce on, Ludwick hit his 18th homer of the season over the center field wall to make it 4-0.
“He’s got that swag back. He’s feeling it,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Ludwick. “You gotta have somebody hot in there in the middle of the lineup.”
Rolen reached on a single following Ludwick and Todd Frazier hit his 12th home run of the year 443 feet into the left field stands making it 6-0 Reds.
The Reds watched their lead disappear in the top of the fourth as the Padres put together their strongest inning of the season. Cameron Maybin hit a 386-foot home run to center with Yonder Alonso and John Baker on board cutting the lead to 6-3.
With two outs, pitcher Jason Marquis had his second hit of the night on an infield single then Alexi Amarista tripled in Marquis to make it 6-4.
Another triple, this time from Will Venable, drove in Amarista to narrow the margin to one and Headley drove in Venable to knot the game at six.
“Homer struggled in that inning and we couldn’t get anybody loose quick enough,” Baker said. “He made some decent pitches that inning. The only real bad pitch he made was to Maybin. That was a hanging slider that he rocketed out of here.”
An error on Scott Rolen forced a pitching change as Bailey went only 3 2/3 innings allowing six earned runs on nine hits.
Sam LeCure relieved Bailey and ended San Diego’s fourth inning scoring deluge.
“That’s unfortunate,” Baker said. “That’s what you don’t want, to go two days in a row on an already depleted bullpen and call upon some guys to overextend some.”
LeCure kept it square at six going 2 1/3 innings with one hit, one walk and two strikeouts and gave way to Sean Marshall who pitched a flawless top of the seventh.
In the bottom half of the inning, Phillips reclaimed the lead for Cincinnati hitting his 13th home run 414 feet off Marquis. It was the third Cincinnati homer of the game and chased Marquis after 6 1/3 innings, eight hits and seven earned runs.
“That was a big home run that Brandon hit to give us a lead,” Baker said.
The Padres used Alex Hinshaw and Dale Thayer to end the Reds’ threat in the seventh.
The Reds lifted Devin Mesoraco and Phillips in the top of the eighth in favor of Zack Cozart and Ryan Hanigan.
“We had to go get Mesoraco because he was dizzy,” Baker said. “Then we had to go get Brandon too because of that calf that bothered him in Colorado and we lived through it.”
Marshall stayed in to pitch another eventless inning.
After the Reds stranded a runner in the bottom of the eighth, Chapman came on to try for his 22nd save.
Logan Forsythe, pinch-hitting for Amarista, led off the bottom of the ninth with a bending fly ball down the right field line that Frazier tracked for an over-the-shoulder catch.
“That was huge,” Baker said “Frazier told me he played some football and was a wide receiver and made that catch over his shoulder so we will probably hear about it over the next few days. That was a big, big play to stop a lead off double in the ninth.”
Chapman then retired former Red Chris Denorfia with a ground out to short for the second out and then battled Headley before striking him out on a slider to give the Reds their highest victory total in a month since 1976 with 19.
“We had enough offense to win and our bullpen did a great job,” Baker said.
Marshall earned the win and moved to 4-3 while Marquis was tagged with the loss and dropped to 4-6.
After two games of rough starting pitching, Baker was happy to know Broxton would be joining the team today.
“No. 1 He brings a fresh arm (today) and No. 2 he is a guy that can come in and setup or come in and close a game if Chapman has had two or three consecutive days,” Baker said. “It gives us a quality guy that has been in the fire and knows how to win.
“He’s happy to be here and we are happy to have him.”
Padres 0 0 0 6 0 0 0 0 0 - 6 10 1
Reds 1 0 5 0 0 0 1 0 x - 7 9 1
Bob Strickley may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 203, or email@example.com.