PITTSBURGH -- The Cincinnati Reds won a game they probably should have lost because second baseman Brandon Phillips made a play nobody on either team thought he could make. Most of all, Phillips himself.
Josh Phelps was thrown out at the plate to end the game on Phillips' remarkable throw from right field, and the Reds overcame Adam Dunn's baserunning mistake that cost them two runs to rally and beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 Thursday night.
In a wild game, two plays occurred that no one on either side could remember seeing: a two-run single was wiped out because a runner didn't touch a base and a game ended when an infielder roamed into the outfield to throw out a runner at home.
"That's a great way to win the game," Reds interim manager Pete Mackanin said. Then, pausing for a second, he added, "And a tough way to lose it."
With the Reds up 5-4 after Alex Gonzalez scored from first base in the top of the inning on Ken Griffey Jr.'s pop-fly single to left field, pinch-hitter Phelps doubled with two outs against David Weathers. When Nate McLouth singled into short right field, it appeared Phelps would score easily.
But Phillips hustled to run down the ball and, falling backward, made a strong throw that allowed catcher Javier Valentin to tag Phelps about shoulder high. Phelps apparently thought he would score easily and, ignoring on-deck batter Jose Bautista's waving to get down, did not slide.
Pirates manager Jim Tracy called Phillips' play "incredible." Valentin said it was "amazing."
"I don't know if I've ever seen that play made," Tracy said. "Brandon Phillips did a tremendous job. He recovered and grabbed the ball on one hop, whirled and fired the ball right on line to home plate. Absolutely incredible."
Phillips called it "the greatest play of my career. It can't get no better than that."
What he couldn't believe was his blind, give-it-all-you've-got throw was only a little high.
"I knew it was going over his head or into the stands," Phillips said. "I didn't think it was going to go right at him, but it did."
There's more. That play might not have mattered if Dunn hadn't run the Reds out of two runs and a tie in the fourth.
With the bases loaded and Pittsburgh up 2-0, Griffey and Dunn came home standing up on Edwin Encarnacion's line drive to left field. But the Pirates successfully appealed that Dunn failed to touch third, and he was called out on what became a force play.
"I've never seen that, a call changed for missing a base," Pirates reliever Matt Capps said.
The ruling led to some brief confusion -- the scoreboard changed from 2-2 to 2-1, and finally, back to a 2-0 Pirates lead -- and prompted a long discussion between third base umpire Chris Guccione, crew chief Wally Bell and Mackanin. Tracy said the Pirates' bench and several players on the field saw Dunn miss the base by nearly a foot.
Baseball rule 7.12 states that when a runner misses a base: "If, upon appeal, the preceding runner is the third out, no runners following him shall score. If the third out is the result of a force play, neither preceding nor following runners shall score."
"I've seen plays appealed and guys miss a base, but never with the bases loaded," Mackanin said. "What a huge play that was. It's a force play to end the inning and nobody scores."
With Griffey getting three hits and scoring twice, the Reds came back from deficits of 2-0 and 4-3 to win their eighth in 10 games and split the four-game series despite being swept in a doubleheader Tuesday. The Pirates lost their fourth in 13 games.
Jared Burton (4-1) won despite allowing Bautista's two-run homer, his 13th, that put the Pirates up 4-3 in the seventh. Weathers pitched the ninth to get his 29th save in 34 opportunities but, he said, only because of Phillips.
"Minor leagues, major leagues, I've lost a bunch of games on that ball right there, but I've never been saved on one," Weathers said. "But then that whole game was like that."
In the top of the ninth, Griffey's blooper off Capps (4-6) couldn't be handled by shortstop Cesar Izturis, third baseman Bautista or left fielder Jason Bay, allowing Gonzalez to score from first. Izturis appeared to have a chance to make the play, but Bautista got in his way as Izturis stuck his glove out.
The Reds tied it in the eighth against Shawn Chacon on Encarnacion's RBI single -- his second hit of the game. If not for Dunn's mistake, it would have been his third.
Pittsburgh opened a 2-0 lead on Adam LaRoche's RBI single in the first and Freddy Sanchez's run-scoring double in the fifth, his second double of the game.
- The Reds are seven games back in the NL Central.
- Griffey's double was the 1,099th extra-base hit of his career, tying him with Eddie Murray for 15th place.
- Phillips had two singles and a double during his seventh consecutive multihit game, the most by a Reds player since Chris Stynes had eight in 2000. Phillips is 16-for-30 (.533) during the streak.
- The Reds won the season series 9-7.
- Dunn also had a two-base error for overrunning LaRoche's single to left.