July 7, 2006

Game 86: Reds 7, Braves 8

The Reds broke our hearts but not their losing streak last night when the Braves beat them 7-8.

Joe Mays, the man who explained his last crappy start by saying that those darn AL guys had seen too much of him and already had him figured out, gave up four runs to Atlanta batters before he got a single out. Mays must not be much of a puzzle to solve. Before he was done, he would allow six runs (earned) on nine hits and three walks through five and one-third innings.

Jason Standridge allowed zero hits but did walk two in his two-thirds of an inning. Matt Belisle and Kent Mercker each worked a scoreless inning on one hit in the seventh and ninth, respectively. Esteban Yan and Todd Coffey each allowed one run in the eighth and tenth, though Coffey's hurt a lot more.

The Reds were down early, but battled back. Scott Hatteberg hit a solo shot in the second to score the Reds' first run. Hatteberg also scored the team's second run when he doubled in the fifth, moved to third on a single by Edwin Encarnación, and came home on when David Ross grounded into a double play.

When George Grande announced that it was last round up time for the Reds, it looked pretty hopeless. Down 2-7 with the Tim Hudson still on the mound, many of us were ready to see it be over with and get to bed early for a change.

But lo! Adam Dunn hit a single! Then Austin Kearns hit a single. Then the pitching change before the Hatteberg, the hottest hitter of the night, could have anything to say about it. But Hattey singled off Macay McBride anyway and inspired yet another pitching change.

Encarnación, fresh off the DL, dug in against Jorge Sosa with the bases loaded, ready to achieve his destiny of being a hero. And struck out. Happens to the best of 'em, kid.

Ross singled in Dunn and Kearns! Maybe this game wasn't out of reach after all, what with the Latin Love Machine coming to the plate.

Javier Valentín. The tiny little slugger. The man who once hit a grand slam from one side of the plate and a three-run bomb from the other in the same game. The man who just hasn't been locked in this year, probably due, at least in part, to the guy who hit just before him. Deposited the ball over the left field wall to tie the game. And our hearts swelled with the joy so recently forgotten. The joy of winning!

You know, I think I'll stop there.

The loss brings the Reds' record to 44-42. Tonight they try to recapture that joy when they face off against the Braves again. Eric Milton takes on Horacio Ramirez tonight at 7:35.

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