By Sam Bush
The Phillies got a win last night in the most improbable fashion.
Of course, cynics might say that any Phillies’ win these days is improbable.
But last night they actually scored two runs in the eighth on a Maikel Franco homer and a run in the ninth on a Darin Ruf (not a misprint!) walk-off single to beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 at Citizens Bank Park.
Odubel Herrera led off the ninth against Tony Cingrani (0-2) with an opposite-field double to left. Herrera went to third on Carlos Ruiz’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Ruf’s broken-bat single to right.
“I had a lot of confidence in that spot with him and he came up big,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.
Jonathan Papelbon (1-0) pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out two, to earn the victory.
The Phillies were on the verge of their eighth straight loss before scoring two runs with two outs in the eighth. They scored just 12 runs during their losing streak.
“You have to continue to fight like a team,” Franco said. “It’s awesome for the team.”
Jumbo Diaz got the first two outs in the eighth and looked like he had the third out when Ryan Howard hit a line drive to right. Jay Bruce was in position to make the catch but the ball went under his glove. Bruce said he lost the ball in the lights.
“I just couldn’t see it,” he said. “It was a helpless feeling. It’s frustrating and I don’t know what else I could do. Then the homer afterward put the icing on the cake.”
The play was ruled a double and Franco followed with a homer just inside the foul pole in left to tie it at 4.
“It seemed like for the last week and a half we’ve been missing that big hit, and Franco got the dugout energized,” Ruf said.
It was the third homer for the rookie who was batting .194 and had just two hits in his last 27 at-bats entering Tuesday.
Joey Votto had two hits with a double and two RBIs for the Reds. Johnny Cueto returned to the mound after missing two starts due to right elbow inflammation and allowed two runs — one earned — and five hits in six innings.
“He was sharp,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “He was into it, was feeling it.”
Chase Utley homered and had three hits for the Phillies, who avoided tying their worst losing streak since July 2013. Philly won for just the second time in the last 11 games.
Sean O’Sullivan started for the Phillies and allowed four runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings.
The game started in a heavy drizzle and was played under a persistent drizzle throughout the chilly evening with unseasonably cool temperatures in the 50’s.
Votto followed Brandon Phillips’ game-opening single with an RBI double down the left-field line to give the Reds a 1-0 lead.
The Phils tied it in the second on Herrera’s RBI groundout. The run was unearned after third baseman Todd Frazier made the first of two fielding errors, both on balls hit by Franco.
Votto’s RBI single to left in the third put the Reds in front 2-1, and Cincinnati took a 4-1 lead on Zack Cozart’s RBI double and an RBI sacrifice bunt by Billy Hamilton, who batted ninth.
Bruce extended his hitting streak against the Phillies to 15 straight games with a fifth-inning single.