CINCINNATI – Slumping Norris Hopper singled home the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning, and the Cincinnati Reds overcame another bullpen meltdown to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4 Saturday night.
Eric Byrnes’ three-run homer off Reds reliever Todd Coffey tied it in the top of the eighth and reminded the booing crowd of 34,410 why manager Jerry Narron was fired a week earlier. A rally started by the game’s featured player helped pull it out.
Brandon Phillips, whose replica jersey was given away as a fan promotion, bunted for a single off Tony Pena (3-2) with one out. He advanced on Adam Dunn’s flyout and came around when Hopper – in a 7-for-42 slump – singled up the middle.
Jon Coutlangus (4-1) took over for Coffey in the eighth and got the win. David Weathers pitched the ninth for his 17th save in 19 chances. Arizona put runners on first and second with one out but Weathers struck out pinch-hitter Tony Clark and Miguel Montero to end the game.
With their rare rally, the Reds improved to 4-1 under interim manager Pete Mackanin. They’ve won back-to-back series for the first time since they opened the season by going 4-2 against the Cubs and Pirates.
For Arizona, it was more of the same.
The Diamondbacks have lost seven of eight, including four in a row – one shy of their season high. They couldn’t even win behind Brandon Webb, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner who was named an All-Star replacement earlier in the day.
Webb gave up four runs in seven innings, including Edwin Encarnacion’s two-run homer, during his roughest outing since May 21.
Reds rookie Homer Bailey looked like he belonged in the big leagues during his five innings, allowing only one run. The 21-year-old pitcher looked like an overmatched rookie in his last two times out, giving up 13 runs, 13 hits and eight walks in only 5 1-3 innings of resounding losses.
After the last pounding, he watched video of his performance and detected a small flaw in his delivery. With the problem fixed, he looked like a top prospect again.
Mark Reynolds and Jeff Salazar doubled in the second inning for the run off Bailey. Mackanin decided to pinch-hit for him in the fifth, letting him leave on an upbeat note with a 4-1 lead.
It was followed by more eighth-inning gloom.
Coffey opened the eighth by giving up a pair of singles and Byrnes’ emphatic homer off the batter’s eye. Coffey dropped his head in disgust after giving up his eighth homer in only 35 1-3 innings, then got booed off the field.
Cincinnati’s bullpen is among the NL’s worst, leading the league with 18 losses.
Reds outfielder Josh Hamilton left the game in the third inning with a sprained right wrist. He winced when he reached on his first-inning grounder to shortstop Stephen Drew, who bobbled it for an error. When it came time for Hamilton to bat again in the third, he headed for the trainer’s room instead.
Notes: Drew’s error in the first inning ended the Diamondbacks’ four-game streak without an error, their best of the season. … Hamilton’s wrist will be placed in a cast and examined again during the All-Star break. … Reds 3B Ryan Freel was ejected by umpire Chad Fairchild after he was called out at first base in the seventh inning.