CINCINNATI – Billy Hamilton finished off the Reds' biggest comeback of the season for a doubleheader sweep, and all of a sudden, Cincinnati is back in the race.
Hamilton's ninth-inning single gave the Reds a 6-5 victory over the Cubs Tuesday night and moved Cincinnati within 3 1/2 games of first-place Milwaukee in the NL Central, their smallest deficit since April 9.
"It just unifies all of us," manager Bryan Price said. "We just feel really good right now."
So good that some of them wanted to keep going at the end of a very long day.
"Let's play three!" Hamilton said. "I'm ready to go right now."
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The Reds have won four straight, five out of six and 13 out of 18.
The Reds fell behind 5-0 in the third inning of the nightcap. Their biggest comeback of the season had been two runs. They took advantage of a struggling team, sending Chicago to its fifth straight loss.
Hot-hitting Jay Bruce, who hit his third two-run homer in three games to lead a 4-2 win in the afternoon game, doubled home the tying run in the eighth.
Hamilton then had a broken-bat RBI single in the ninth off Hector Rondon (1-3) for the Reds' first doubleheader sweep since 2009 against Pittsburgh.
Hamilton has driven in six runs during the first three games of the series, relishing the clutch situations.
"I love `em," Hamilton said. "I want to be the guy in a situation like that."
Chris Coghlan homered in both games and helped the Cubs get in position for a split, but Chicago's bullpen couldn't hold on.
Coghlan hit the first of three homers off left-hander David Holmberg, who lasted only 2 2/3 innings in his Reds debut.
Cubs lefty Tsuyoshi Wada made his major league debut and gave up an unearned run in five innings, leaving with a 5-1 lead.
Hamilton's RBI triple cut it to 5-4 in the seventh, and Bruce -- playing first base in the nightcap -- had another pivotal extra-base hit against Pedro Strop.
Rondon gave up a pair of singles to open the ninth, and Hamilton singled to the opposite field for the win.
The Reds put first baseman Joey Votto back on the disabled list before Game 1, hoping a strained muscle above his left knee will heal enough to let him play this season. They're using different players -- including Bruce -- at the position for now.
"The only thing you can see that's positive out of this is it's creating opportunities for other guys to play and they're taking advantage of it," Price said.