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04/08/10 5:14 PM ET
Reds walk off on Gomes' homer in ninth
Solo shot decides duel between Arroyo, Cards' Penny
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Once his bat touched the ball in the bottom of the ninth inning, Jonny Gomes knew immediately that the Reds had their first win of 2010. It was Gomes' home run into the left-field seats that gave the Reds a 2-1 walk-off victory before 13,445 at Great American Ball Park. With one out in the ninth, Gomes saw six consecutive fastballs from Cardinals reliever Jason Motte. The first two were called balls, followed by two called strikes and a foul ball. The sixth pitch was a 95-mph heater up and over the plate. "Hard swinger, hard thrower," Gomes said. "If he got that down a little bit, he would have known right away out of his hand that he had me. Power on power right there." Gomes made a brief hop from the batter's box on contact and immediately went into a home run trot. His teammates mobbed him when he arrived back at home plate and pounded him. "It's where I threw it. Not the pitch, but where I threw it, said Motte (0-1). "If I would have thrown it down and away and he'd rolled over it, it would be a whole different interview. That's the way it is." The Reds started the season with back-to-back losses to the Cardinals and were trying to avoid the three-game series sweep heading into another series with a National League Central rival, the Cubs. "If we had lost that one today, it would have put a little pressure on you," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "People start counting. That first one is the hardest one to get. I told the guys today, 'Let's be happy after the game.' The only way to be happy is winning." The game was tight all the way with a pitchers' duel between Reds starter Bronson Arroyo and Brad Penny, who was making his Cardinals debut. The game was scoreless until the fifth inning, when Arroyo lined a soft RBI single into center field that scored Ryan Hanigan. It was all Penny gave up in seven innings with six hits, two walks and four strikeouts. Despite being drilled in the left calf by a Colby Rasmus line drive in the top of the second inning, Arroyo had a stellar afternoon. In his eight-inning no-decision, Arroyo gave up only one run -- on a Matt Holliday home run in the seventh inning -- with six hits, three walks and six strikeouts. He threw 109 pitches in the game. St. Louis had scored a total of 17 runs through the first two games. "A solo home run doesn't win that game without Bronson Arroyo pitching the way he pitched," Gomes said. "We could talk about his stuff all day and then we can talk about his toughness for taking the ball off the calf and staying in there." Francisco Cordero (1-0) pitched a perfect top of the ninth inning with two strikeouts for the victory. In the bottom of the ninth, lefty Trever Miller retired Jay Bruce with a popout before Cardinals manager Tony La Russa called on Motte for the right-handed pitcher vs. right-handed hitter matchup. Gomes came into the at-bat 1-for-8 on the season, with the other hit being a single in the second inning off Penny. "He was struggling, but at any time he could pop one. He chose the right time," Baker said. "That was a wonderful thing." Arroyo was inside the clubhouse watching the game from a trainer's table while getting ice for his sore calf. "It was nice. Obviously, just getting that first win was huge and not getting swept," Arroyo said. "Jonny came up in his first game in this uniform last year and got me a win when he hit one down the line. He got us a win today, too. It's a good day at the office for me. I'll take our first win, for sure."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.