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Red Sox 5, Reds 4: Another day, another game-winning homer

The Red Sox got another game-winning homer Wednesday afternoon, this time off the bat of Mike Napoli.

Jason O. Watson

For the third straight game, the Red Sox find themselves winners thanks to a long ball, downing the Reds 5-4 Wednesday afternoon to complete a short two-game sweep in Cincinnati.

Where the Red Sox waited until late to strike in Tuesday's game, they got off to a quick start against Mike Leake. Brock Holt started the game off with a six-pitch walk, took second base on a wild pitch to Daniel Nava, then scored when the outfielder skipped a single over the mound and into center field for the RBI single. The Red Sox were done hitting for the inning, but with three outs left to work with and Nava taking second on the throw home, they managed to bring him around too with some small ball, with Nava beating out a play at the plate on a chopper to third from Mike Napoli to make it 2-0.

The lead held up for a few frames, but the Reds managed to get back into the game in the middle innings against Anthony Ranaudo. Devin Mesoraco put them on the board by bringing home former Red Sox farmhand Kris Negron on a sacrifice fly after a one-out walk and a double from Todd Frazier.

It wasn't until the fourth, however, that things really got hairy for Ranaudo. A high fastball, straight as an arrow to Skip Schumaker found its way well over the wall in right, evening the game at 2-2. That mistake, however, was far easier to forgive than the fastball to Mike Leake of all people that ended up in the left field stands. From 2-0 up, the Red Sox were now behind 3-2 with a pitcher trotting the bases behind Ranaudo.

The offense, however, was right there to pick him up. In the top of the fifth, after Ranaudo followed the more traditional path for pitchers of walking back to the dugout after strike three, Brock Holt hit a double to left, then scored on a line drive to left from Yoenis Cespedes--his eighth RBI in 10 games with the Red Sox, evening the game at 3-3. That brought Mike Napoli to the plate with Leake on the ropes. Falling behind 2-0, Leake left a fastball just enough over the plate for Napoli to take it to the opposite field. And while it didn't have the usual power that can be found behind so many of his blasts, Great American Ballpark is nothing if not homer-friendly. The fly ball just barely cleared the wall in right, giving the Red Sox two more runs and a 5-3 lead.

It would be a shaky finish for the Red Sox. Ranaudo surrendered a fourth run in the bottom half of the inning, allowing a leadoff triple to Kris Negron (apparently intent on punishing his former organization) which turned into a run on Todd Frazier's sacrifice fly.

That led to a one-run ninth with Edward Mujica on the mound, Koji Uehara resting after pitching four straight games for the Red Sox. There, the National League team would be undone by their inability to get down a bunt. After a pair of leadoff singles put the Reds in fantastic position to score, Ramon Santiago bunted foul on three straight pitches, leaving Billy Hamitlon's fly ball to center an unproductive out. Negron would get one more chance to hurt the Red Sox, and almost did so, but Mujica was able to knock down (perhaps accidentally) a sharp ground ball to the mound, earning the save and giving the Red Sox the win.