By Kevin Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Whether in protest or surrender, the towel came flying out of the Astros dugout just as Adam Dunn rounded third base. It lay there in a heap long after the Reds outfielder stepped on home plate Friday at Great American Ball Park.
Dunn gave Cincinnati a 9-7 win with his game-winning two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning before 33,349 fans.
Three more feet and the ball, which sailed over the visitor's bullpen in right field, would've flown out of the stadium.
"It didn't have to be a homer," Dunn said. "I would've taken a nine-hopper up the middle."
But giving the Reds their 13th walk-off win this season, and first victory in 11 games against Houston, was sweet.
Particularly for those who have watched and played alongside Dunn during what has been a trying season.
"He's 23 years old," first baseman Sean Casey said. "People forget that, because it's almost his third year up here (in the big leagues). He's still learning. He's going to be a great player in this game. His raw ability is second to none in this league."
Though he led the Reds in homers, runs scored and walks, Dunn entered Friday in a 5-for-34 slump and had not driven in a run in the previous 13 games.
He was 0-for-4 before coming to bat in the 10th inning with second baseman D'Angelo Jimenez on second base.
"He's got to be one of the nine out there because you never know when he's going to bust out," Reds manager Dave Miley said of Dunn.
"It's basically the same swing that I've been taken on a lot of balls," said Dunn, whose 27 homers are one more than he had last season. "The timing was there. I wasn't late. I wasn't early. I was right there."
The game-winner also presented relief pitcher Ryan Wagner with his second career victory and first against the Astros club he followed while growing up in Yoakum, Texas.
Wagner, the Reds' first-round draft pick in June, pitched a scoreless 10th and struck out one.
"It's just a great feeling to go out there and win, no matter who it's against," Wagner said.
Before the 21-year-old came in, the Reds bullpen allowed the Astros to tie the game at seven in the eighth inning.
Houston center fielder Craig Biggio hit a three-run homer off Chris Reitsma to finish the erasing of what was a 7-3 Reds lead.
The Reds' bullpen had pitched to a 2.73 ERA in the previous eight games before Friday.
"The bullpen has been outstanding," Miley said. "It was just one of those nights."
Cincinnati scored five times in the seventh to take a 7-3 lead.
Prior to that inning, the game had been dictated by starting pitchers Danny Graves of the Reds and Houston's Ron Villone.
The Astros went ahead 2-0 in the first inning on a home run by second baseman Jeff Kent.
The Reds countered in similar fashion when LaRue hit a two-run homer off Villone in the bottom of the first. Neither team did much offensively after that until the seventh inning.
Graves retired the Astros in order in the second and third innings and didn't allow a base runner past second from the second until Villone homered in the seventh to put the Astros ahead 3-2.
Villone retired 18 of the next 22 batters he faced after LaRue homered in the first.
"This shows a lot about the team," Dunn said. "We've got a lot of young players. We're just going out and playing baseball."
One out when winning run scored.
a-walked for Graves in the 7th. b-struck out for Dotel in the 8th. c-struck out for Reitsma in the 9th.
1-ran for Casey in the 8th.
E-JKent (8), Olmedo (9). LOB-Houston 8, Cincinnati 4. 2B-JKent (29), Olmedo (4). HR-Dunn (27), off Lidge; Biggio (11), off Reitsma; Villone (1), off Graves; LaRue (15), off Villone; JKent (16), off Graves. RBIs-Biggio 3 (42), JKent 2 (61), Villone (1), Blum (41), Olmedo 2 (11), LaRue 4 (44), DJimenez (10), Dunn 2 (57). SF-Blum. GIDP-JKent.
Runners left in scoring position-Houston 3 (Bagwell, AEverett 2); Cincinnati 1 (Taylor).
DP-Cincinnati 1 (Larson, DJimenez and Casey).
|Dotel BS, 1||2/3||4||4||4||1||0||17||2.94|
|Lidge L, 4-3||1/3||2||2||2||0||1||12||2.99|
Inherited runners-scored-Dotel 1-1, Reitsma 2-2.
|Reitsma BS, 5||1 1/3||1||1||1||0||2||24||3.97|
|Wagner W, 2-0||1||0||0||0||1||1||19||2.77|
IBB-off Graves (Hidalgo) 1. PB-Ausmus. Balk-Lidge.
Umpires-Home, Mike Winters; First, Bruce Froemming; Second, Ron Kulpa; Third, Rob Drake.
T-3:09. A-33,349 (42,263).
How the runs scored in Friday's game between the Astros and the Reds
Astros first. Biggio singled to center. Ensberg flied out to left fielder Dunn. Bagwell flied out to left fielder Dunn. Kent homered to left on a 1-1 count, Biggio scored. Berkman walked on a full count. Hidalgo struck out. 2 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Astros 2, Reds 0.
Reds first. Olmedo walked on four pitches. LaRue homered to left on a 1-0 count, Olmedo scored. Jimenez grounded out, shortstop Everett to first baseman Bagwell. Casey grounded out, first baseman Bagwell to pitcher Villone. Dunn popped out to shortstop Everett. 2 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 left on. Reds 2, Astros 2.
Astros seventh. Villone homered to right on a 1-1 count. Biggio struck out. Ensberg singled to left. Bagwell singled to right, Ensberg to third. Kent grounded into a double play, third baseman Larson to second baseman Jimenez to first baseman Casey, Bagwell out. 1 run, 3 hits, 0 errors, 1 left on. Astros 3, Reds 2.
Reds seventh. Dunn popped out to left fielder Berkman. Mateo singled to right. Dotel pitching. Blum in as third baseman. Larson flied out to right fielder Hidalgo. Taylor singled to center, Mateo to second. Stenson pinch-hitting for Graves. Stenson walked on four pitches, Mateo to third, Taylor to second. Olmedo doubled to left, Mateo scored, Taylor scored, Stenson to third. LaRue singled to left, Stenson scored, Olmedo scored. LaRue to second. Jimenez singled to right, LaRue scored. Jimenez was out advancing, right fielder Hidalgo to catcher Ausmus to shortstop Everett, Jimenez out. 5 runs, 5 hits, 0 errors, 0 left on. Reds 7, Astros 3.
Astros eighth. Castro in as third baseman. Riedling pitching. Berkman walked. Hidalgo flied out to right fielder Mateo. Ausmus singled to center, Berkman to second. Everett singled to center, Berkman to third, Ausmus to second. Blum hit a sacrifice fly to center fielder Taylor, Berkman scored. Reitsma pitching. Biggio homered to left on a full count, Ausmus scored, Everett scored. Merced pinch-hitting for Dotel. Merced struck out. 4 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 0 left on. Reds 7, Astros 7.
Reds tenth. Lidge pitching. Jimenez singled to right. On Lidge's balk, Jimenez to second. Pena struck out. Dunn homered to right on a 1-1 count, Jimenez scored. 2 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 0 left on. Reds 9, Astros 7.
Dunn goes on DL with sprained thumb
Saturday's Game: Astros 5, Reds 2
Friday's Game: Reds 9, Astros 7 (10)
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