CINCINNATI – The dirt-smudged base leaned on the floor in front of Billy Hamilton’s locker. An inscription in black ink noted the importance: “MLB Debut 9/3/13.”
The speedy outfielder who outran everything in the minors got his first stolen base in the majors Tuesday night and it decided a game with playoff implications. Hamilton swiped second and came around on Todd Frazier’s double in the seventh inning, sending the Cincinnati Reds to a 1-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
“That’s my job — stealing in important situations,” said Hamilton, who had brown dirt on both knees from his hard slide into that keepsake base. “This was a real big situation — a pennant race.”
Hamilton set a professional record by swiping 155 bases in the minors last year. He got an ovation when he made his big league debut as a pinch runner for Ryan Ludwick, who led off the seventh with a single against Seth Maness (5-2).
As he went onto the field, Manager Dusty Baker had a word.
“He said, ‘I need you to get to second base,’ ” Hamilton said. “I was like, ‘OK, I got you.’ “
After Maness threw to first three times, Hamilton took off and beat an off-target throw from Yadier Molina, who rushed a bit.
Hamilton scored easily on Frazier’s hit and got congratulatory slaps in the dugout.
“It was like we won the World Series there,” Hamilton said.
Homer Bailey (10-10) allowed only two hits in seven innings, retiring his last 14 batters. Aroldis Chapman threw four pitches that registered 103 mph while fanning the heart of the Cardinals’ order in the ninth for his 34th save in 39 chances, completing the two-hitter.
PIRATES 4, BREWERS 3: Pinch-hitter Travis Snider homered in the ninth inning at Milwaukee as Pittsburgh clinched its first non-losing record in 21 seasons.
BRAVES 3, METS 1: Kris Medlen pitched seven strong innings, and Andrelton Simmons and Evan Gattis homered to help Atlanta beat visiting New York.
The Braves have won 20 of 24 at Turner Field to improve the major leagues’ best home record to 51-19.
NATIONALS 9, PHILLIES 6: Wilson Ramos hit a three-run homer and Corey Brown also went deep as Washington won at Philadelphia.
MARLINS 6, CUBS 2: Donovan Solano had three hits, including a two-run double, and Miami’s bullpen combined for 42/3 hitless innings in a win at Chicago.
DODGERS 7, ROCKIES 4: Ricky Nolasco pitched six strong innings and Carl Crawford had a two-run single among three hits to spark visiting Los Angeles to its sixth straight win.
Nolasco (12-9) allowed two runs and five hits in improving to 7-1 with a 2.27 ERA in his 11 starts since coming to the Dodgers on July 6 in a trade with Miami. He struck out five and walked one.
INDIANS 4, ORIOLES 3: Ubaldo Jimenez pitched six shutout innings, and Yan Gomes and Asdrubal Cabrera drove in two runs apiece to give Cleveland a win at home.
YANKEES 6, WHITE SOX 4: Eduardo Nunez’s two-run double capped a five-run eighth inning that rallied New York over visiting Chicago.
ROYALS 4, MARINERS 3: Salvador Perez drove in Mike Moustakas with two outs in the eighth inning as Kansas City won at home.