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Reds vs. Dodgers and Let Bygones Be Bygones

Updated on July 2, 2012

Reds vs. Dodgers and Let Bygones Be Bygones

by Robb Hoff

July 3, 2012

There was a time when the Cincinnati Reds versus the Los Angeles Dodgers was the marquee matchup in the National League. Not only were the two teams division rivals in the old N.L. West, they were two of the better teams of all-time.

The Dodgers infield of the mid-1970's will still ring in the ears of Reds fans old enough to remember: Steve Garvey at first, Davey Lopes at second, Bill Russell at short and The Penguin Ron Cey at third.

In the late 70's the Dodgers added a familiar face in the Reds dugout now, Dusty Baker.

The intense rivalry between the two teams fizzled over time with the realignment of the divisions in the N.L., but Monday night's series opener pitting the Reds Homer Bailey against the Dodgers Chad Billingsley had some of that old time feel for the importance that the game carried for both teams.

By the time the game started, the Reds knew they had to win to preserve a one-game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the N.L. Central.

Likewise the Dodgers needed to tack on another win after injuries had finally taken their toll on the squad and they squandered a big lead over the San Francisco Giants in the N.L. West to suddenly find themselves in second place in their division.

Bailey overcame some early jitters to settle down nicely and pitched seven stong innings of two-run ball.

Billingsley made a critical error by pitching to Reds rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco with two out and runners at second and third. With the pitcher on deck, Mesoraco squeezed a two-run double down the third base line past Dodgers third baseman Adam Kennedy to give the Reds a 3-2 lead.

Bailey gave up a leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh, but after a sacrifice bunt by Kennedy and a can of corn off the bat of Scott Van Slyke, shortstop Luis Cruz drove a liner to right field.

Reds All-Star rightfielder Jay Bruce redeemed himself nicely for the fielding gaffe that cost the Reds a loss Sunday by breaking instantly on the Cruz line drive and spearing the ball out of the air in a full sprint to save a run.

After the Reds added two more runs in the eighth to pad their lead, Baker decided to let Bailey go back to the mound 100 pitches into the game.

The decision turned out to be the right one. Bailey induced a lazy fly ball to left field and notched a strikeout with a 97-mile-an-hour heater before disposing of yet another Dodger via the strikeout.

The impressive outing left just one thing for the Reds to seemingly do: secure the win with their closer Aroldis Chapman, who was the third Reds named to the 2012 N.L. All-Star team.

Chapman's year so far has been manic on and off the field to say the least.

His somersaults off the mound after closing a game against the Brewers drew some unwanted scrutiny, And his off the field woes have been both well-documented and completely bizarre.

Turns out Chapman wasn't needed for the save after the Reds added to their lead in the top of the ninth, but Chapman's appearance and the win were nonetheless a breath of fresh air for a team in need of one.

The Reds will have their snubbed All-Star ace Johnny Cueto take the mound tomorrow against the Dodgers best pitcher this year Chris Capuano and the game will give both pitchers the chance to show why they should've been selected to the All-Star game.

Hopefully, Cueto continues his dominance and the Reds keep rolling through this 11-game West Coast trip all the way to the All-Star break. The Reds are a little worse for wear after shortstop Zack Cozart was beaned in the head and left Monday night's game. He might miss tomorrow's game in addition to corner infielders Scott Rolen and Joey Votto, who both continue to nurse injuries.

If the Reds are minus these starters, Cueto had better find his groove early and keep it because he might not get the kind of offensive output Bailey enjoyed on Monday.



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