In a game that was all about pitching, the Dodgers didn’t get much of it from their starter, Chris Capuano, who left with two outs in the second inning with a mild groin injury. The Reds, on the other hand, got a whole lot of it from Mike Leake, who gave up a two-run homer to Hanley Ramirez in the first inning and then proceeded to dominate the Dodgers through the seventh.
Leake (12-6) scattered five hits — three after the first inning — and didn’t walk a batter, striking out five.
The decisive rally for the Reds began when Stephen Fife walked Leake on four pitches to begin the fifth. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly immediately removed Fife in favor of J.P. Howell, who eventually gave up a two-run homer to Joey Votto, the 22nd of the season for the one-time National League Most Valuable Player, to turn a 2-1 Dodgers lead into a one-run deficit they never overcame.
Paco Rodriguez, the Dodgers’ usually reliable setup man, struggled for the second time in his past three appearances, failing to retire a batter in the bottom of the eighth. After Brandon Phillips led off with a base hit, rookie September callup Billy Hamilton, who possesses otherworldly speed, was sent in to pinch run. Hamilton’s speed and constant motion in taking his lead off first seemed to rattle Rodriguez, who threw over so many times that the boos from the crowd grew louder each time. Eventually, Hamilton did steal second, to a loud ovation, and Rodriguez walked the next two batters to load the bases with nobody out.
With that, Mattingly came to get Rodriguez, who now has allowed six of the past eight batters he has faced to reach base in his past three appearances.
Brian Wilson got out of that jam, but Aroldis Chapman was too much for the Dodgers in the ninth, nailing down his 35th save.