National League RBI leader Brandon Phillips drove in two key runs Thursday night to help the Reds win their sixth straight and complete a series sweep of the Marlins.
Phillips, who drove in five runs in the series, brought home the go-ahead run with a 10th-inning sacrifice fly to push Cincinnati past Miami, 5-3, before 16,680 at Marlins Park.
The 32-year-old second baseman, who leads the Majors with eight game-winning RBIs, hit a sixth-inning solo homer to give Cincinnati a 2-1 lead. Reds starter Mat Latos had been dominant to that point, and he surrendered just one run -- on a Juan Pierre leadoff homer -- through eight innings as he looked to be on the verge of a complete-game win.
Latos entered the ninth having thrown just 84 pitches, but the 25-year-old ran into trouble when Adeiny Hechavarria smacked a one-out triple to right. Reds manager Dusty Baker called for Aroldis Chapman to protect the 2-1 lead and finish off the game.
"I really wanted to finish it, but it seems like there is always something down here in Florida that happens and I can't finish," Latos said. "It is what it is. We got the 'W' and that's all that matters."
Baker wanted to see his starter finish off the second complete game for the Reds in the series after Homer Bailey went the distance Tuesday night. The veteran manager actually expected it heading into the bottom of the ninth.
"Latos was dealing," Baker said. "His pitch count was low. He had that young man, who got an infield hit off him earlier, at 0-2 before the triple. At that point, we had to go get Chapman and we thought we were out of it."
Chapman struck out pinch-hitter Placido Polanco, but rookie Marcell Ozuna blasted a triple to the deepest part of Marlins Park that pushed home Hechavarria and tied the game at 2. Latos is still winless in seven career starts against the Marlins.
"I'm happy with the way we battled and continued to compete and grind it out," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "We tried everything. We used almost all our guys. We bunted. We tried everything to score some runs and still came up short."
The Reds wasted little time getting their offense going in extra innings. Pinch-hitter Donald Lutz singled off Marlins closer Steve Cishek to lead off the top of the 10th. Shin-Soo Choo followed with a walk. Following a sacrifice bunt by Zack Cozart, the Marlins chose to walk Joey Votto to load the bases and pitch to Phillips.
The All-Star second baseman hit a Cishek slider just far enough that Pierre could not make a play on Lutz, who was tagging up from third. The sacrifice fly brought Phillips' RBI tally to 36. It was the second time this season that he hit a sacrifice fly to help beat the Marlins in extra innings. The veteran hit a walk-off sac fly in the 13th inning on April 20 -- also off Cishek -- to beat Miami, 3-2, in Cincinnati.
"We wanted to win the game in nine, but a win is a win," Phillips said. "This was a team effort. I'm proud of our team. We could have just put our heads down and just went with the flow. I'm proud of us, because we went out and tried to get the job done. The guys got in scoring position for me, and I just had to do my job and try to drive them in."
While Phillips put the Reds in the lead in the 10th, right fielder Jay Bruce delivered a pair of key insurance runs. Bruce, who drove in the club's first run in the fourth inning, doubled home Choo and Votto and gave the Reds enough cushion to survive the Marlins adding a run in the bottom of the 10th on a Matt Diaz pinch-hit RBI single.
"We came back," Baker said. "Lutz got a big hit and they helped us with a walk. Cozart executed and then Brandon came through before a big, big hit by Jay Bruce to get us those insurance runs."
Baker was happy with how his team responded to the adversity they faced late in Thursday's game. The veteran manager believes there are only two ways to react in that situation, and he feels his team responded correctly.
"They have no choice," Baker said. "You either roll over and die and hang your head or you come back and keep fighting. That's what this team is about."
Story By David Villavicencio, MLB.com