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Mesoraco's two-run double gives Reds a lead

LOS ANGELES -- It was Star Wars Night at Dodger Stadium on Monday, but many of the stars on both the Reds and Dodgers were unable to do battle.

The Reds' infield was particularly ransacked with injuries, as first baseman Joey Votto (left knee inflammation) and third baseman Scott Rolen (back spasms) couldn't play. And in a scary moment during the fifth inning, shortstop Zack Cozart exited after being beaned by a pitch.

Fortunately for Cincinnati, others moved at warp speed to pick up the slack in an 8-2 win over the Dodgers. Particularly vital were the eight innings pitched by Homer Bailey and the three RBIs each from Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier.

"It was a team effort today," said Frazier, who is 5-for-8 with five RBIs in the last two days filling in for Rolen. "Everybody came to play and they understood that we're in first place and it doesn't matter who is out there. We're here to play. That's what we did. And Homer Bailey stepped up and did what he had to do."

Bailey pitched eight innings and allowed two runs and five hits with one walk and seven strikeouts. He threw 115 pitches and was throwing 97 mph when he struck out his last two batters of the eighth.

"It was a pretty good game," Bailey said. "It seemed like I was always right back out and I stayed loose."

In a lineup missing current and former All-Stars Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, former Red Jerry Hairston batted third and gave Los Angeles a 1-0 lead when he sent a 1-0 pitch into the left-field seats for a two-out homer. In the bottom of the second inning, Bailey was in danger after James Loney's leadoff single and a walk to Juan Uribe.

Then Bailey caught a break. As Scott Van Slyke slashed a hard single to right field, Uribe rounded too far from second base. First baseman Miguel Cairo took Jay Bruce's cutoff throw and quickly threw Uribe out as he scampered back to second. The Dodgers settled for one run on a Luis Cruz sacrifice fly to center field.

Bailey retired the next 10 in a row and 18 off 20 from the third to the eighth. In the seventh, with two outs and a runner on second base, Bailey was helped again. On Cruz's tailing liner to right field, Bruce stretched for a nice running catch near the corner to prevent an extra-base hit and the tying run.

"That kind of saved me there," Bailey said.

It took a while for Bailey's Jedi, a.k.a. the Reds' lineup, to come to his aid as it was kept off the scoreboard for five innings by Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley.

There were two outs in the fifth when a first-pitch fastball from Billingsley struck Cozart in the head. Cozart was lifted from the game and later diagnosed with a mild concussion. He is expected to be OK.

"It seemed like after that he didn't seem the same," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Billingsley. "It seemed to bother him a little, understandably. We know Chad well enough to know he'd never do that [intentionally]."

Brandon Phillips led off the top of the sixth with a double to left-center field and reached third base on a Bruce rolling single to left field. Frazier's broken-bat single to left field scored Phillips. After Bruce was thrown out at the plate on Cairo's fielder's choice, Mesoraco came through with two outs.

After being down in a 1-2 count, Mesoraco took two fastballs to run up a full count. After fouling off a fastball, he lined the next pitch for double down the left-field line. As the ball skipped into the corner, Frazier and Cairo scored to give Cincinnati the lead, 3-2.

"I got enough to get it down there in the corner and score that guy from first," Mesoraco said. "Give [Billingsley] credit. He was pretty tough tonight and I think if he could taken that pitch back, I'm sure he would have. It was a breaking ball up in the zone. I did, I guess, what I was supposed to do."

The rookie Mesoraco, batting .209 this season, came in 0-for-13 in two out situations with runners in scoring position. But he came up big this time.

"That's the kind of a situation where you want to be the guy up there," Mesoraco said. "Two outs, the guy's in scoring position. I've always had a lot of success in those types of situations in the past. It's a big pickup for the team if you can get those guys in there."

Cincinnati stretched the lead with a two-run eighth against another former Red in reliever Todd Coffey. It included Frazier's RBI triple to the right-field corner that scored Bruce. Coffey notched two strikeouts before Mesoraco added more insurance by rolling an RBI single into left field.

"That's why it's called a team. You pick each other up," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Today we left a couple of runners on third with less than two outs, and the next guy picked him up with two outs. It happened twice today. That's real big."

Three more Reds runs came across in the top of the ninth.

"It seems like a different guy every day when we win," Frazier said. "Devin stepped it up today and did his job. It's fun to see that -- everybody come together and just enjoy the time and enjoy the game."

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