By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — As Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker watched the unfathomable plot unfold on the field a thought crossed his mind — an old television show.
“I was thinking about Fred MacMurray from ‘My Three Sons.’” said Baker. “Only I have four sons over there that wreaked havoc on us during this series — Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Zack Cozart. And I’m thinking, ‘Man, did I teach you guys to do all that stuff?’”
Baker, the former Cincinnati Reds manager who is now managing the Washington Nationals, was referring to his old players doing some heavy lifting over the weekend. It resulted in victories the first two days for the Reds and ended in a bizarre afternoon of baseball Sunday.
IN THE END, WASHINGTON won Sunday’s game, 10-9. But the Reds had a 5-0 lead and blew it. Then the Nationals scored 10 straight runs to take a 10-5 lead and nearly blew that.
The Reds, down a run, had the bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the ninth but closer Jonathan Papelbon coaxed a weak pop-up from Adam Duvall, struck out pinch-hitter Zack Cozart and ended the game on a long, long fly ball to the warning track in left center by Ivan DeJesus Jr.
So the Reds winning streak is over after winning five straight.
“I was trying to remain cool and think positive,” Baker said of the ninth inning. The Reds were down, 10-8, but Papelbon gave up a single to Tyler Holt to start the ninth and walked Joey Votto. Brandon Phillips doubled over the first base bag to score Holt and make it 10-9. Baker had Jay Bruce walked intentionally — and why not? He already had hit a three-run homer in mid-game.
THAT LOADED THE BASES with no outs, a seemingly inescapable position for Papelbon, but he did it.
“That was some game and Pap got those two key outs when he needed them,” said Baker. “That long fly ball (hit by DeJesus with two outs), well, we could tell (center fielder) Michael Taylor had a bead on it and we just didn’t want it to get into the sun or hit off the wall. That was exciting.”
Baker broke it down perfectly in a Charles Dickens manner. “That was A Tale of Three Games,” he said. “They jumped us (5-0, Reds). Then we jumped them back (10-5, Nats). Then we held on at the end when we were in big trouble.”
JON MOSCOT HAS THE same initials and wears the same uniform number as one of the all-time great Cincinnati Reds pitchers — No. 46, Jim Maloney.
And for three innings Sunday Moscot did a spot-on imitation of Maloney, who threw three no-hitters (one of them a loss that MLB eventually took away from him).
Moscot had a no-hitter against the Nationals for three innings and only one runner reached base and that was on an error.
And his teammates bombarded Washington starter Tanner Roark for five runs in the second inning, a seemingly comfortable cushion for a cruising Moscot.
It wasn’t to be because Moscot melted in the fourth inning like a cherry popsicle on a summer sidewalk in Arizona, giving up five runs and five hits that included back-to-back home runs to Daniel Murphy and Wilson Ramos.
That, of course, just tied the game but the difference-makers on this day were the bullpens — Washington’s held (barely) and Cincinnati’s didn’t.
Daniel Wright replaced Moscot in the fifth inning and gave up three straight hits and all three scored. J.C. Ramirez gave up two runs in two-thirds of an inning in the sixth and the Reds trailed, 10-5. That was reduced to 10-8 in the seventh when Bruce rocked a three-run home run, his 13th homer of the season.
FOR THE FIRST TWO GAMES of the series, the Nationals more resembled the old Washington Senators, an American League team that lost 101 games in 1955 and 99 games in 1957 before fleeing to Minnesota to be re-born as the Twins.
The New Washingtons, the Nationals, came to town leading the National League East by three games, led by Baker, and carrying the swagger of a team on a four-game winning streak.
The Reds, though, took it to them in winning the first two games and had that 5-0 lead Sunday before imploding.
Baker had a tough call in the ninth with runners on second and third with no outs and his team clutching tenaciously to a one-run lead. The next two hitters were Jay Bruce and Adam Duvall — the power and the glory of the Reds recently.
Does he pitch to Bruce? Or does he walked him to fill the bases and face Adam Duvall? He walked Bruce.
“That’s a tough call, but it’s the only call we had,” he said. “Bruce has been hot and you don’t really want to face Duvall because he kind of walked us off last night (a three-run homer in the eighth to give the Reds a 6-3 win). Man, I told everybody to think positive and we were calling double play, calling everything. They just play us tough and they are hot right now, came out of Colorado hot. They’re swinging the bats.”
On this day, though, they came up one swing short