CINCINNATI (AP) — Billy Hamilton is still looking for his first major league plate appearance. Cincinnati’s prized prospect has yet to play in the field, and he’s already paying huge dividends for the streaking Reds.
Hamilton stole second in the 10th inning to set up Todd Frazier’s game-winning single, helping Cincinnati beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 on Saturday.
“My job was to score at all costs,” Hamilton said. “Everybody knows that’s what I’m here for.”
Ryan Ludwick opened the Cincinnati 10th with a leadoff walk against Brian Wilson (1-1). Reds manager Dusty Baker then went to the dynamic Hamilton, and the speedster took second as catcher A.J. Ellis dropped the ball while taking it out of his glove.
“Hamilton is a battle,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “We had a shot there, though. If A.J. gets the ball out of his glove it would have been close.”
The 22-year-old Hamilton, who set a professional record with 155 steals in the minors last season, is 4 for 4 on steal attempts since he was promoted on Monday. According to research by the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first player in major league history to record a stolen base in each of his first four appearances.
“There aren’t many like him,” Baker said, mentioning past base-stealing threats such as Lou Brock and Willie McGee. “Those are guys you know are going to steal, and they steal anyway.”
Frazier followed with a line-drive single into right field to give Cincinnati five wins in its last six games. Frazier also drove Hamilton with a seventh-inning double in the Reds’ 1-0 victory against St. Louis on Tuesday.
J.J. Hoover (4-5) got three outs for the win as Cincinnati captured the first two games of its weekend series against the NL West leaders. The Reds will send Homer Bailey to the mound when they go for the sweep on Sunday night against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.
“We’re looking for the sweep,” Frazier said. “You try to win every series, but right now, every win is huge.”
Yasiel Puig hit a two-run homer for Los Angeles, which has lost three straight. Adrian Gonzalez went 4 for 5 and A.J. Ellis also had two hits.
Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke struck out nine in six innings and was in line for his 15th win before Cincinnati rallied in the seventh. Shin-Soo Choo singled with one out and Cesar Izturis followed a run-scoring double against Paco Rodriguez, tying it at 3.
“I was battling,” Greinke said. “I was making a bunch of good pitches but they were battling too. They put a bunch of good at-bats together and strung some hits together.”
Izturis, starting at second base in place of the injured Brandon Phillips, tied his season high with three hits before flying out in the ninth with the potential winning run on second. Choo and Joey Votto had two hits apiece.
“I thought (Izturis) was going to win the game in the ninth,” said Baker, who became the third manager in Reds history to reach 500 wins with the team. “Everybody’s a star for a day.”
Greinke allowed eight hits and walked one. He is 11-1 with a 2.13 ERA in his last 15 starts.
The win helps the Reds keep up the pressure on the top two teams in the bunched NL Central. Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Cincinnati are all in position to make the playoffs, but the division race is still very much in the balance.
Cincinnati ace Mat Latos allowed three runs and nine hits in seven innings. He struck out three and walked one.
The Dodgers grabbed the lead in the first when Puig was hit by a pitch, moved up on Gonzalez’s single and scored on Hanley Ramirez’s single to left.
Cincinnati responded in the bottom half on RBI singles by Jay Bruce and Ludwick.
Puig made it 3-2 in the second with his 15th homer, a drive into the left-field seats on a 2-2 pitch. Ellis was aboard after a leadoff single.
NOTES: Phillips didn’t start due to a left quad contusion he suffered on Thursday. Phillips left that game in the seventh inning and was replaced by a pinch runner in the eighth inning on Friday. … Dodgers LHP Hyun-Jim Ryu, scratched from Friday’s start with mid-back stiffness, is expected to throw in the bullpen on Sunday, Mattingly said. He expects the pitcher to start on Wednesday. … Los Angeles pinch-hitter Jerry Hairston Jr. was ejected from the game after arguing about a called third strike leading off the ninth. … The Reds unveiled a bronze statue outside Great American Ball Park honoring Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan before Saturday’s game. Members of the Big Red Machine, including Pete Rose, joined Morgan on the field at the unveiling and on the field for pregame ceremonies. Rose, who is banned for gambling, got permission from Major League Baseball to appear on the field.