By HAL McCOY
DAYTON — As club owner Bob Castellini left the clubhouse and passed a media gathering near the door, he stopped and said, “It was a great day for the Cincinnati Reds.”
He, of course, was not referring to what happened earlier in the day in San Diego, where the Reds lost to the Padres, 4-2, to complete a 0-and-6 road trip.
Castellini was wearing a green cap with a ‘D’ in a dragon’s tale on it, a Dayton Dragons cap, and he said, “It was a great day for the Cincinnati Reds and a great day for the Dayton Dragons.”
CASTELLINI AND TEAM PHYSICIAN Tim Kremchek were at Fifth Third Field Wednesday night to watch Homer Bailey perform a six-inning rehab assignment.
And, indeed, it was great for the Reds and Bailey, who pitched six shutout innings and threw 75 pitches to take another mammoth step forward on the comeback road.
And Bailey was helping the Dragons, who are sniffing a first-half playoff spot in the Class A Midwest League. Bailey did his part — no runs, one hit, one hit batsman, no walks, six strikeouts, 75 pitches, 51 strikes.
In the fourth inning he struck out the side on 10 pitches —nine strikes, one ball — as he helped the Dragons beat the Great Lakes Loons, 4-2.
MATTERS WERE NOT so upbeat in San Diego as the Reds came home with tails tucked and dobbers down.
Jose Peraza, batting leadoff in place of slum-ridden Billy Hamilton (2 for 28) opened the game with a home run off San Diego starter Jhoulys Chacin. And Joey Votto led the fourth with a home run to give Amir Garrett a 2-0 lead.
That, though, would be the last Reds run and they only added four hits to those two home runs.
GARRETT TOOK A SHUTOUT into the sixth inning before giving up a leadoff single to Yangervis Solarte and a 433-foot home run to left field by Hunter Renfroe.
It was Renfroe’s 14th home run and the 13th straight home game in which the Padres have hit at least one home run, a club record. That tied the game, 2-2.
Garrett pitched six innings and gave up two runs, seven hits, walked two and struck out eight. It wasn’t good enough.
MICHAEL LORENZEN TOOK over for Garrett in the seventh and walked the first two batters — pinch-hitter Matt Szczur and Jose Pirela — on eight straight pitches.
Franchy Cordero singled home a run and Renfroe’s grounder to short scored the game’s final run.
The Reds lost three straight to the Los Angeles Dodgers and three straight to the Padres, dipping their road record to 10-21. After a 5-and-1 road record to start the season the Reds have lost 20 of their last 25 wearing their road grays.
HELP COULD BE COMING soon. Bailey will pitch Monday for Class AAA Louisville and if that goes well he could be pitching for the Reds by the end of next week.
After pitching five scoreless innings last week for Class AA Pensacola, he is on an 11-inning scoreless streak and looked to be pitching effortlessly Wednesday at Fifth Third.
Bailey, of course, was aware that The Boss was sitting behind home plate in Dayton and he smiled and said, “That’s my best friend.” Of course, he is. He signs Bailey’s $105 million worth of pay checks. “It was good to see him and good to see Doc (Kremchek) with him. And he (Castellini) is the one guy you want saying that he was pleased.”
ASKED IF HE WAS HAPPY with Wednesday’s showing, he said with emphasis, “Yes. I’m glad we’ve checked that box and can go to the next one and go from there (back into a Reds uniform).
“I felt better in my last start (at Pensacola), the ball was coming out better, but you just have some of those games,” he said. “That’s part of it. I was happy that we were able to execute a lot of pitches tonight. It showed in the results.”
Bailey is anxious to return to his struggling major league team, which has thumped to the bottom of the National League Central standings.
“It means a lot to me,” he said. “A lot of those guys I’ve been playing with for a long time. I’ve been keeping up, seeing the way they’ve been battling day-in and day-out. The hitter are doing an outstanding job and the starting pitchers are trying to grind it out, figure everything out.”
BAILEY LAUGHED WHEN he was reminded that his appearance Wednesday was not only important to his well-being, it was important to Dayton’s playoff hopes.
“It’s pressure,” Bailey said. “Double-A (Pensacola) is in a playoff fight, too. Before I pitched there they wanted me to go over hitters with them and I said, ‘Hey, they gotta hit me.’ No, I’m not playing that game. Then they told me here that they’re trying to get to the playoffs and I said, ‘Hey, I ain’t here to lose.’ I don’t want to do a rehab start and give up 10 runs. If I do that they ain’t gonna like me here very much.”
For what he did Wednesday the Dragons love him and his next step is to make the Reds love him again.