Reds Win in Ten

The pennant stretch excitement continued in Cincinnati Monday as the Reds opened up their home-stand with an extra-inning win. Johnny Cueto had another impressive outing and they are getting healthy at the right time as they continue to chase the Cardinals atop the division.

Cincinnati got their regular season ending homestand started off on the right foot with a 3-2 win over the Mets in ten innings. It looked like it might be an easier win when they took a two-run lead in the second inning. Todd Frazier led off with a double and scored on a single by Shin-soo Choo. Later that inning Joey Votto drew a bases-loaded walk which would be the last time they crossed the plate in regulation. After leaving bases loaded in a scoreless ninth the home team brought home the win when Choo struck a walk-off hit. Choo led his team with three hits and Votto walked all five times he stepped into the box. Ryan Hanigan added two singles and scored a run.

On the mound Johnny Cueto looked in top form throwing seven innings and yielding only three hits/three walks, one earned run, and an unearned one while striking out five. Another important Reds pitcher finishing up an injury-plagued season, Sean Marshall entered in the eighth and killed a New York tnreat by inducing a double play against the only batter he faced. Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth before Manny Parra tossed a scoreless inning for the win.

Manager Dusty Baker used Billy Hamilton in the eighth and he's now perfect in thirteen stolen base attempts. Choo swiped a couple bags himself including a sneaky advance to third after he drew a catcher's throw to second which appeared to give the Reds a win in regulation by setting up the would-be winning run at third with no one out in the ninth.

The Reds failed to capitalize on that opportunity and perhaps were in danger of blowing another one the next frame, but all that will be forgotten because of Choo's game-winning drive. It came when the outfielders were playing shallow and bounced off the wall. No attempt was made to catch it because the distance was plenty deep to prevent anyone from stopping Devin Mesoraco from tagging up for the run.

Mesoraco replaced Hamilton, who pinch-ran for Hanigan, and got the game-winning rally started with an infield hit off the third baseman's glove that was similar to the one he made in the dramatic game-winning rally in the finale of the Houston series last week. Pinch-hitter Derrick Robinson followed by driving the ball into the ground in front of the plate hard enough that it bounced over the first baseman to provide the stage for Choo's game-winner. It was the leadoff hitter's first appearance after sitting out their previous two contests with sore thumb.

The division standings will remain the same for another day because both St. Louis and Pittsburgh aslo won. The win clinched spots in the wild card game for the Reds and Pirates who remain two games behind the Cardinals for the division lead with eight games remaining. The Redlegs will send Mike Leake to the hill Tuesday for the second game in the series and he will face the Mets' Jon Niese. Another injured pitcher, Tony Cingrani reported his sore back feels fine after throwing a bullpen session.

The return of injured players is creating a logjam for the final few spots as Baker contemplates his postseason roster which is a good problem to have. If Cueto is ready he will be in the rotation and Marshall will likely be the first lefty option in the bullpen. The other southpaw, Manny Parra, has been very effective in the second half of the season and one would figure he's on the squad after being their only left-handed bullpen option outside of Chapman who was saved for save situations closing games. The manager is also likely considering keeping Hamilton's speed on the roster at the expense of one of the other backup outfielders.
< br> There probably won't be many decisions like that made right now while Cincinnati works to add onto their season win total of 90 and still has a chance to win their third division crown in the last four years. Even if the Cardinals do not provide opportunity to catch them, home field advantage will be coveted for the play-in game.