By DAVID BRANDT AP Baseball Writer
PHOENIX (AP) — TJ Friedl enjoyed an easy trot home for what proved to be the winning run in the 11th inning after a two-out, two-strike balk.
It was a bizarre way to cap a bizarre game, but the Cincinnati leadoff hitter said that’s just how it goes when two teams are battling for playoff position in the dog days of August.
Friedl scored on Nabil Crismatt’s balk, Lucas Sims closed for his third save of the season, and Cincinnati overcame an early four-run deficit — along with shaking off the sting of blowing a three-run lead in the 10th — to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-7 on Saturday night.
“We’re going to fight for every inch, and we know they are, too,” Friedl said. “That’s just the game we’re playing right now. We’re trying to scratch runs together any way we can and they are, too. That’s a huge, huge win for us.”
Cincinnati snapped Arizona’s six-game winning streak, which was tied for its longest of the season. The D-backs took the first two of the four-game series, but the Reds responded to take the third contest Saturday, with both clubs in the middle of a six-team scramble for the National League’s three wild-card spots.
The finale is Sunday.
“It hurts because we care so much,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “There were plenty of examples where we did things well and executed. And there were plenty of examples where we didn’t. It caught up to us in the long run.”
The Diamondbacks trailed 7-4 in the 10th but rallied for three runs. Geraldo Perdomo started with an RBI single, scoring Jose Herrera, who started the inning on second, cutting it to 7-5. Corbin Carroll followed with a walk and then Tommy Pham hit a routine ground ball that second baseman Matt McLain misplayed for his second error of the night, which allowed Perdomo to score.
Christian Walker tied it on a sacrifice fly, scoring Carroll.
It was just the second blown save of the season for Reds closer Alexis Diaz. All three of the runs were unearned.
But the Reds pushed ahead again in the 11th when Crismatt flinched on an 0-2 count. Second-base umpire C.B. Bucknor immediately called the balk and the D-backs didn’t argue.
The Reds rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the ninth to force extra innings. Tyler Stephenson’s one-out double scored Noelvi Marte, who led off the inning with a walk. Friedl followed with a single, which advanced pinch runner Michael Siani to third, and then McLain hit a soft groundout that was enough to score Siani.
“That was a tough win,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It was not perfect. A lot of things happened, but you stay with it. You grind it out, stay together and good things happen.”
It was Paul Sewald’s fifth blow save this season, and his second since joining the D-backs from the Mariners in a trade deadline swap.
The Reds scored three more runs in the 10th to take a 7-4 lead. They opened with three straight hits off Miguel Castro, starting with Spencer Steer’s double to deep center that scored Elly De La Cruz, who began the inning on second base.
Arizona stretched its early lead to 4-0 in the fifth on Ketel Marte’s no-doubt three-run homer to right, which was his 21st long ball of the year and his 100th since joining the D-backs in 2017.
Arizona starting pitcher Zach Davies had a good performance in his first start since July 18 after going on the injured list with lower back inflammation. The veteran right-hander threw five scoreless innings before giving up a solo homer to McLain to lead off the sixth, cutting the D-backs’ lead to 4-1. De La Cruz followed with a walk, which ended Davies’ night.
He gave up five hits and two walks while striking out five.
Cruz was the opener for the Reds and struck out four batters over 1 1/3 innings. Right-hander Ben Lively threw 5 2/3 innings of relief, giving up three runs on six hits while striking out five. It was the longest relief outing for a Reds pitcher since 2014.
Carroll had a triple and double on the same night the D-backs gave away 15,000 bobbleheads of the All-Star rookie.
To make room for Davies on the active roster, the Diamondbacks demoted RHP Justin Martinez to Triple-A Reno.
The Reds activated Lively (right pectoral muscle strain) and placed LHP Alex Young (left hamstring tightness) on the 15-day injured list. OF Stuart Fairchild (concussion) started a rehab assignment in Triple-A Louisville.