Monday’s Homer Bailey was the pitcher for whom the Cincinnati Reds and their fans have been waiting almost three years.
Unfortunately, that Bailey couldn’t get the win against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Bailey pitched six impressive innings before wilting in the seventh and scored a run on a bases-loaded walk, but a three-run home run by Milwaukee shortstop Orlando Arcia off of relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen wiped out a 4-1 Cincinnati lead and cost Bailey his fifth win of the season.
Billy Hamilton salvaged a 5-4 Reds win with a two-out walkoff home run off of Josh Hader, giving the win to Raisel Iglesias (3-2), who pitched a perfect ninth inning.
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“I was going to hit a home run if it landed in play any way,” Hamilton said of his first career walkoff shot. “Hitting off the wall and beating it home was the goal there. I really had to get on my horse. Hader throws like 95. I was looking for the heater. He loves his fastball. He has a good one. I asked (Zack Cozart) what to look for. He said heater. The second pitch that came in was a changeup. I thought, ‘Uh, oh.’ Then I knew he was coming back with a fastball.
“By the time I got to home plate there was like four people out there. I was rolling.”
“It was an out-of-nowhere shot,” manager Bryan Price said. “You hope he gets on steals a base and (Cozart) drives him in.”
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell was surprised that it was Hamilton who went walkoff on Milwaukee.
“Yeah, he’s not known for that,” Counsell said. “He put a good swing on it. It happens. Anybody’s capable of doing it, especially in this ballpark.”
Bailey, who’s had three surgical procedures on his arm since September 2014, retired 14 straight batters and 15 of 16 through the sixth innings before Ryan Braun led off the seventh with his 14th homer of the season and 25th of his career at Great American Ball Park, more than any other player.
Bailey, who also scored a run on a bases-loaded walk, didn’t walk anybody and struck out four while giving up six hits and one run.
“This was like Homer of 2012 and ’13,” Price said. “He had both good stuff and command.”
Eugenio Suarez also drew a bases-loaded walk from Milwaukee starter Chase Anderson in the sixth before Tucker Barnhart, in his first game since becoming a father for the first time, delivered a ringing, bases-loaded two-run double for a 4-0 lead.
A crowd of 22,403 was on hand for the Labor Day game and a post-game concert by contemporary Christian musician Crowder.
The three-game series is scheduled to continue with Tuesday’s middle game. Right-hander Zach Davies (16-7), Milwaukee wins leader, is the Brewers scheduled starter. Davies is 1-0 in two starts against Cincinnati this season. Rookie right-hander Robert Stephenson (3-4) is due to make his first start and fourth appearance of the season against Milwaukee after going 3-0 in August.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.
Hamilton ended Milwaukee’s first inning by throwing out Neil Walker trying to score from third on Travis Shaw’s one-out fly ball. The assist was Hamilton’s 12th of the season, one behind National League-leading teammate Adam Duvall, and the Reds’ major league-high 36th.
“The play by Billy just gets you going,” Price said. “The play on defense has just been a segue to the offense at times. It gave Homer a chance to settle in.”
“We were able to hold them at bay for six,” Bailey said. “It was good to see Billy come up big right there. We could talk all day about Billy. We could talk about him for hours. He’s like a highlight reel out there. Our outfield has been so good at throwing runners out.”
Bailey started the Reds third inning rally by capping a nine-pitch at bat with a line drive single up the middle. He was safe at second when Arcia bobbled Billy Hamilton’s grounder for his 17th error of the season in 131 games. Arcia went into the game second among National League shortstops in errors.
Zack Cozart and Joey Votto followed with walks to push Bailey across the plate with the game’s first run.