CINCINNATI – The Cleveland Indians had the bases loaded with no outs in the fourth inning, a chance for their struggling offense to break the game open. All they managed was one run.
It wasn't nearly enough to overcome another big game by Brandon Phillips.
Phillips helped the Cincinnati Reds get through their illness with another strong game against the team that gave up on him in 2006, hitting a two-run homer and driving in three runs in a 5-3 victory on Wednesday night.
It all went back to that wasted chance.
The Indians loaded the bases in the fourth, but Johnny Damon took a called third strike from Mat Latos (5-2), Casey Kotchman grounded into a run-scoring forceout and Lonnie Chisenhall grounded out.
That wasn't going to get it done.
"He's good," manager Manny Acta said of Latos. "We're not taking anything away from it. But you can be Cy Young and if you have the bases loaded with none out, by accident you can end up scoring one or two runs. We did score one, but we didn't take advantage of that situation."
By contrast, Phillips came through. The three-hit game raised his career average against the Indians to .347, an indication that it's not just another team to him.
"To tell you the truth man, I don't know why," Phillips said. "I just go out there and try to get the job done."
Everyone knows there's a little more to it than that.
"You've got to use every edge you can," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I told him we're playing the Indians. He just kind of smiled."
Phillips had the starring role in an offense bothered by a stomach ailment that spread through the team the last two days — the second baseman had only a few symptoms. He played a secondary role in a mild drama with Indians starter Derek Lowe (7-5).
Phillips singled home a run off Lowe in the first inning, and Ryan Ludwick and Jay Bruce added sacrifice flies for a 3-1 lead. When Lowe came to bat in the fifth inning, the first pitch from Latos was an inside fastball that made him angry.
Lowe motioned to the Reds dugout, believing the pitch came on orders from Baker. Lowe thought the pitch was the result of what he described as a private falling out the two of them had four years ago. He wouldn't give any details.
"Three years, I've always come up with men on base," Lowe said. "This is the first time I came up with no one on base. Dusty, I was pointing at him because I knew why it happened, and he shook his finger like he had nothing to do with it."
Lowe fouled out.
When Phillips came up in the bottom of the inning, Lowe hit him on the left arm with his first pitch. Plate umpire Paul Nauert warned both benches, and there were no additional incidents.
Phillips' two-run shot in the seventh inning made it 58 straight games with at least one homer at Great American Ball Park since July 29, the longest active streak in the majors.
Latos pitched seven innings in place of Mike Leake, one of several Reds hit hard by a stomach virus. Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for his seventh save in nine chances, giving up a solo homer by Jose Lopez with two outs.
The left-hander didn't give up an earned run in his first 24 appearances, but has done so in his last three outings.
Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 20 games, matching the longest in the majors this season. It's the longest by an Indians player since Casey Blake hit in 26 straight games in 2007.
Otherwise, there wasn't much offensively for Cleveland, which dropped the opener of the intrastate series 7-1 on Tuesday night even though the Reds were depleted by illness. They were closer to full strength on Wednesday, with several players eating chicken noodle soup for energy.
Rookie shortstop Zack Cozart missed a second straight game because of the illness.
NOTES: The Indians lead the interleague series 39-38. ... Leake expects to start the final game of the series on Thursday afternoon, when he will be trying to win his third straight decision. The Indians will start Josh Tomlin, who is 4-0 in five career interleague starts with a 2.38 ERA. ... RHP Esmil Rogers joined the Indians, a day after Cleveland got him from Colorado for cash. He pitched a hitless eighth inning. ... The Indians optioned INF Matt LaPorta to Triple-A Columbus to open a roster spot. ... Lowe singled in his first at-bat for his first hit of the season. Indians starters have a hit in each game of the series — Jeanmar Gomez singled for his first career hit on Tuesday. ... Bruce leads the NL with seven sacrifice flies. ... Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer threw a ceremonial pitch. ... Hits king Pete Rose was in the stands.
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