MIAMI – At the crack of the bat, John Buck appeared to have won the game for the Miami Marlins.
His fly ball to deep center field was caught by Drew Stubbs in the 11th inning preserving a 5-4 win for the Cincinnati Reds over the Miami Marlins in 11 innings Sunday.
"Stubbs saved the game with that great catch," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "That is about as athletic of a catch to the deepest part in almost any ballpark in America. I'm just glad we held on."
Donovan Solano drew a two-out walk from Jonathan Broxton before Buck's game-ending fly out caught by Stubbs, who leaped to make the catch just in front of the 418-foot wall. It was Broxton's second save with the Reds.
"I knew in this ballpark to never give up on it because it's so deep out there," Stubbs said.
Ryan Ludwick hit a go-ahead single in the top of the 11th off Carlos Zambrano (7-10) to give the Reds a 5-4 lead.
"That was a big one for us," Ludwick said. "That's a team fighting to spoil people probably and they gave us all we could handle for three straight days. Just to be able to get that one was very important.
Ludwick, Dioner Navarro, and Didi Gregorius each had three hits for the Reds, who tied a season high with 17 hits and left 14 men on base.
"We did get a lot of hits," Baker said. "We left a ton of guys on base, had a lot of opportunities, which is the name of the game. The more opportunities you get, sooner or later you're going to bust through."
Zambrano was the Marlins' ninth pitcher of the game when he came on to pitch the 11th. Zambrano, who had not pitched since Sept. 7, issued a lead-off single to Chris Heisey and walked Joey Votto before Ludwick singled through the left side scoring Heisey for a 5-4 lead.
"When you lay off that much, you can't ask too much," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "On the other hand my starting pitchers have been throwing seven, eight innings plus the last week, week and a half. That's why the guys in the bullpen have not been pitching that much."
Miami had an opportunity to score in the 10th when Giancarlo Stanton came to the plate with two runners on, but Logan Ondrusek (4-2) struck him out.
"Ondrusek came in and got a big, big out on Stanton," Baker said.
Jose Reyes hit a tying double off the right-field wall in the eighth inning off Mat Latos.
"I thought the ball that Reyes hit was a homer," Baker said. "I didn't see where it hit on the wall and I was glad it stayed in the ball park."
Reyes had three hits to lead the Marlins, who were searching for their first three-game sweep since June 29-July 1 when they swept Philadelphia.
"It's tough when you hit the ball good and you think you've got a home run and the ball doesn't go out," Reyes said. "It's kind of tough as a hitter but like I say it is what it is. You have to deal with it."
Latos pitched 7 2-3 innings allowing four runs and seven hits. He struck out eight and walked three.
"I tried my best to keep us in," Latos said. "I wound up giving up a lead, that's always aggravating. Seems like that's been the story of the year for me for the most part. We got a 'W' and we have to move forward. That magic number is getting closer and closer."
At the start of the day, the Reds needed a combination of six wins, or losses by St. Louis and Los Angeles, to clinch a playoff spot.
Gregorius' RBI single and Brandon Phillips's RBI ground out gave the Reds an early 2-0 lead.
Miami tied the game at 2-all with a two-run triple by Greg Dobbs.
Navarro's RBI single allowed the Reds to re-gain the lead at 3-2.
Cincinnati took a 4-2 lead after an RBI single by Ludwick in the sixth. The Marlins cut the deficit to 4-3 on a sacrifice fly by Donovan Solano.
Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco allowed three runs and 10 hits in five innings. Nolasco had won his last three starts including two shutouts over Washington.
"Obviously, this was not my best day," Nolasco said. "I got singled to death; a lot of ground balls just found the holes but it's part of the game. I just tried to go as deep as I could."
NOTES: The Reds also had 17 hits on June 14 against Cleveland and July 23 at Houston. ... It was Navarro's first three-hit game since July 8, 2009 against Toronto while with Tampa Bay. ... Nolasco is 4-2 with a 3.00 ERA in his last seven starts. ... The Reds will send RHP Homer Bailey (11-9, 3.93 ERA) to the mound on Tuesday at Wrigley Field to face Cubs RHP Justin Germano (2-7, 6.24 ERA) to begin a three-game series. Miami will host Atlanta with RHP Nathan Eovaldi (4-12, 4.71 ERA) getting the start against Braves LHP Paul Maholm (12-10, 3.90 ERA).