CINCINNATI – A star third baseman most of his career, 37-year-old Scott Rolen made a big impact in a rare pinch-hitting appearance.
The 37-year-old drove in the winning run in the ninth inning with a sharp infield single that third baseman Hanley Ramirez failed to handle, lifting the Cincinnati Reds to a come-from-behind 6-5 win over the Miami Marlins.
Pinch-hitting is often thought of as a niche for marginal players who can adapt to the demands of the role. Rolen, a seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove winner, looked just fine in it.
"It's certainly not easy," said Rolen, now 8-for-18 as a pinch-hitter in his career. "Everybody says you come in cold, but believe me, your blood pressure's through the roof. You're not really cold. Your circulation's going crazy."
Manager Dusty Baker figured that Rolen, in his 17th big league season, would be prepared to grab a bat.
"You don't really have to tell him ahead of time," Baker said. "He knows to get ready. That was a big game."
Jay Bruce started the comeback with his second home run of the game and third of the season, an opposite-field drive into the left-center field seats that cost Marlins new closer Heath Bell (0-1) a save in his first opportunity. One out later, Drew Stubbs chopped a single that hit Ramirez's glove. Stubbs moved to third on Ryan Hanigan's single to right.
Ramirez's tried to handle Rolen's grounder with a forehand grab on his backhand side. He just knocked it down and had to watch as Stubbs crossed the plate with the run that gave the Reds two wins in the three-game series.
Bruce's homer cost former San Diego closer Heath Bell (0-1) a save in his first opportunity since signing with Miami as a free agent.
"My job is to save games, and I didn't do it," Bell said. "I need to earn the respect from these guys. I need to be more accountable. I didn't make a pitch when I needed to make a pitch."
Left-hander Aroldis Chapman (1-0) pitched two shutout innings of relief.
The Marlins got at least one hit in every inning against Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo and every starter — including Carlos Zambrano — had a hit.
Zambrano retired 13 of 14 batters in one stretch, including 12 straight before Bruce homered with two outs in the sixth inning to give Cincinnati a 4-2 lead. He lasted six innings, allowing four hits and four runs with two walks and six strikeouts.
The Reds led 3-0 and 4-2 before the Marlins scored three runs to take a 5-4 lead in the seventh, which opened with Arroyo hitting Greg Dobbs with a pitch. Brett Hayes then hit a hard shot into the left field corner, but had to stop at first as Dobbs hobbled into second, where Gaby Sanchez ran for him.
Pinch-hitter Chris Coghlan lined a double to the right-center field wall to drive in Sanchez and push Hayes to third. Jose Reyes came up with an RBI groundout to tie the score and Emilio Bonifacio singled to right through a drawn-in Reds infield to give Miami the lead.
"It was tough luck," first year Miami manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We did everything we needed to do to win the game. If we play like that with fire and enthusiasm, we are going to win a lot of games."
Arroyo gave up 10 hits and five runs — four earned — with no walks and four strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings.
NOTES: Phillips grounded a single up the middle for his second hit of the game and 1,000th of his career with the Reds. He is the 28th player in club history to reach 1,000 hits. ... Cairo started at third base in place of Rolen, who was 1 for 7 in Cincinnati's first two games. Rolen didn't play after July 20 last season because hleft shoulder problems that required surgery, is expected to sit for several day games after night games.