By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — Billy Hamilton swung hard and watched his soft line drive heading toward Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Josh Bell and Hamilton said to himself, “Is it high enough? Is it high enough?”
It was. Barely. Bell leaped and nearly nabbed the baseball, but it escaped his grasp and landed in the grass behind him.
Arismendy Alcantara sprinted home from second base and the Cincinnati Reds had a 10th-inning walk-off victory over the Pirates, 4-3, Monday night in Great American Ball Park, with nearly nobody there to witness it.
THE WAY THINGS HAVE GONE for Hamilton, it would not have shocked him had Bell snagged the ball. Hamilton entered the game hitting .213 and hadn’t had a two-hit game in nearly three weeks.
And he already had his one hit for the day, a single in the first inning, after which he stole second and third, but didn’t score.
But he converted this time and said, “I had some good at bats during the game and my confidence was up. I didn’t want to strike out in that situation (with two outs). I didn’t give up and battled even when I got to two strikes.”
REDS STARTING PITCHER AMIR Garrett didn’t get the win despite giving up only two hits over his seven innings. Unfortunately for him, both hits were home runs — Andrew McCutchen and Cincinnati native Josh Harrison.
But Garrett could have annexed the win after Adam Duvall crashed a three-run home run in the sixth, the first runs of the game against Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole.
That gave the Reds a 3-2 lead, but Drew Storen gave up another home run to Josh Harrison, a long blast in the eighth that tied it, 3-3, wiping away Garrett’s victory.
The Pirates ended up with only three hits, all three home runs.
THE LAST TIME GARRETT WAS on the pitching mound, the Milwaukee Brewers not only knocked him off his high horse, they trampled him with 10 runs in 3 1/3 innings.
That didn’t happen Monday night on the GABP mound. Garrett sat tall in the saddle against the Pirates, just the two hits in seven innings.
“It was a good bounceback game for me,” said Garrett, now 3-and-2. “I’m very happy with the outcome. The game against the Brewers? Everything was up for some reason. But it wasn’t something I could fix right away, not in that game at the moment.
“But I had a good bullpen and in the game tonight everything was down and I was able to work off that,” he said. The two errant pitches? McCutchen hit a hanging slider and Harrison hit a fastball away, “And he went with it and put a great swing on it,” said Garrett.
With one out in the bottom of the 10th, Tucker Barnhart worked a full-count walk against Pittsburgh relief pitcher Daniel Hudson.
Alcantara ran for Barnhart and Hudson twice nearly threw the ball away trying to pick him off. On his third try he did throw it away and Alcantara scooted to second, making it easy for him to score on Hamilton’s hit.
“The catalyst again, two days in a row, was Tucker Barnhart grinding out a walk to set the stage,” said manager Bryan Price. “That walk ended up leading to the winning run.”
Said Hamilton of Alcantara (pinch-running for Barnhart) drawing the pickoff error to get in scoring position, “For me, I don’t hit too many balls deep so it would be tough for me to drive him in from first base. When he got to second it makes it easier for a hitter like me.”
Of course, without Duvall’s big blast in the eighth after Hamilton reach on an error and Joey Votto walked on a full count, the Reds would not
have been in position to steal this one away from the Pirates, the Reds fourth straight win over Pittsburgh this season.
“Duvall is terrific and it is always sitting there pending with him,” said Price. “Nobody is going to be great every day, but the threat he has of an extra base hit, a three-run homer or a solo shot to tie it late, he never seems to be in a situation he can’t handle.”
And it was a tough go, but Garrett kept a handle on it until Duvall and Hamilton could clinch it.