Brandon Phillips' incredible catch saves Reds in extras against Nationals
Wilson Ramos thought he'd delivered a game-winning single against Cincinnati in extra innings. Brandon Phillips had other ideas.
Phillips' lunging dive in the 12th inning took a hit away from Ramos and the winning run away from the Nationals, keeping the Reds in the game until they broke through for two in the 15th. A two-run shot from Todd Frazier gave Cincinnati a 4-2 lead, and the Reds held on for a 4-3 win, ending a two-game losing streak.
With the score knotted at two in the 12th, reliever J.J. Hoover started the inning by walking pinch-hitter Tyler Moore. Denard Span dropped down a bunt, but catcher Devin Mesoraco pounced on it and fired to second base to get the force on Moore. Zack Cozart, however, made a wild throw to first base to try to get the double play. Instead, the ball got away from first baseman Neftali Soto, which allowed Span to get to second. A walk to Anthony Rendon followed, then a flyball by Jayson Werth pushed Span to third. That brought up Ramos, who took a first-pitch fastball from Hoover and lined it straight up the middle. Phillips, however, timed the ball perfectly and dove full extension, grabbing the ball in mid-air for the third out.
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Phillips wasn't the only Cincinnati defender flashing some leather to save the Reds in extras. In the bottom of the 14th, with a runner on third and two outs, Anthony Rendon lifted a ball to centerfield that, again, could've won the game for the Nationals if it'd found some grass. Instead, it found the glove of a diving Billy Hamilton, who went into a full dive to snare the ball and keep the game tied.
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For Phillips and Hamilton, the sparkling defensive plays made up for otherwise lackluster nights at the plate. Though Hamilton picked up two hits and a walk in six trips to the plate, he struck out three times in extras, including in the 14th with a runner on second and one out. Hamilton also got picked off third base with two outs in the seventh. Phillips, meanwhile, went 1-for-7 with a strikeout and a run scored and was 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position on the night.
Bad night at the dish aside, May has been a good month for both players. After a brutal start to the season, Hamilton has found his stroke, with a .290 average going into Monday. Phillips, meanwhile, has been even better, hitting .340/.390/.604 in May before Monday's game (though that 1-for-7 night won't do his season averages any favors). It's the kind of effort the Reds desperately need from both players at the top of the lineup with both Joey Votto and Jay Bruce sidelined. Monday's game was just the fourth time in the last 10 games Cincinnati had scored four or more in a game, and the team hasn't scored in double digits since way back on April 13. As a team, the Reds are dead-last in batting average in May with a .225 mark, fourth-worst in OBP at .294, and are averaging just a hair more than three runs a game since May 1. As for the Nationals, extra innings just haven't been kind to them this year. The loss was the team's fourth in five extra-inning games; in fact, the only extra-innings win Washington has all season came in the first game of the year. Not that the Nationals didn't have their opportunities, putting runners in scoring position in the 12th, 14th and 15th. In that final frame, Washington got a leadoff double from Jayson Werth off Logan Ondrusek, but saw Ramos ground out and Ian Desmond fly out. Greg Dobbs plopped a ball into right field between Hamilton, Phillips and Skip Schumaker to score Werth, but Ondrusek got Danny Espinosa to fly out to right to end it.