Aaron Harang said a final goodbye to his grandfather, rejoined his teammates and took the mound for a fitting tribute.
“I know he’s out there with me,” the Cincinnati right-hander said Monday night. “He was a baseball fan. He wouldn’t have wanted me to miss a start.”
Harang returned from his grandfather’s funeral in San Diego and pitched 10 innings, helping the Reds to a 2-1, 12-inning victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
“He wanted to win that game so bad,” said catcher Javier Valentin, whose RBI single ended it.
Harang gave up Ryan Braun’s solo homer in the fourth, then retired the next 17 batters before Braun singled with two outs in the ninth. The tall, stoic pitcher showed no emotion while he cruised through the Brewers’ lineup, limiting Milwaukee to seven hits.
The crowd of 23,489 gave a loud cheer when Harang went back out for the 10th — he’d thrown 107 pitches at that point. He escaped a two-on, two-out threat by fanning Corey Hart for his 10th strikeout.
“It was one of those games where I got through nine and they asked me how I felt and I said I feel good,” Harang said. “That’s the best I’ve felt.”
In San Francisco, Barry Bonds remained at 753 home runs, going 1-for-3 with a single and a walk as the Giants lost 4-2 to the Atlanta Braves.
“It’s a tremendous challenge and I like to go after him,” Braves starter John Smoltz said. “There’s an aura now that is pretty high. It’s weird to think about a lineup and you know he’s one of the best, but now he’s chasing something that everybody’s going to ask you questions all year about.”
In other NL games, it was: Arizona 4, Florida 3; Los Angeles 10, Houston 2; and Colorado 7, San Diego 5.
At Cincinnati, Harang became the second pitcher in the majors this season to go 10 innings, joining Toronto’s Roy Halladay, and the first Reds pitcher to do so since Rick Mahler threw 10 during a 2-0, 13-inning win in St. Louis on Aug. 30, 1989. Harang is the first NL pitcher to go 10 innings since the Cardinals’ Mark Mulder did it on April 23, 2005, against Houston.
Valentin’s bases-loaded single off Grant Balfour (0-2) ended a game between two free-swinging teams. The struggling reliever walked Jeff Conine and Pedro Lopez to open the inning, then threw to third base too late on David Ross’ bunt to get an out.
Manager Ned Yost went to the mound and gave Balfour a pep talk halfway through the four-pitch walk to Lopez. It didn’t work. Instead, Valentin pinch-hit and lined Balfour’s first pitch to right field to end it.
Rookie Jared Burton (1-1) got two outs in the 12th for his first major league win.
Braves 4, Giants 2
At San Francisco, commissioner Bud Selig was a no-show for Bonds’ welcome home party.
Brian McCann hit a three-run double in the first to stake Smoltz (10-5) to a quick lead. Smoltz has surrendered eight home runs to Bonds, but none since giving up two on Aug. 9, 1998.
Smoltz allowed two runs — one earned — and seven hits in seven innings. Bob Wickman finished for his 17th save.
San Francisco’s Mark Sweeney received a curtain call when he doubled leading off the seventh to tie Manny Mota for second place with 150 pinch hits, trailing only Lenny Harris (212).
Matt Cain (3-12) lost his third straight start, and ninth decision out of his last 10.
Diamondbacks 4, Marlins 3
At Phoenix, Florida’s Dontrelle Willis allowed four runs, including Orlando Hudson’s two-run homer, and lost his career-high seventh straight decision.
Willis (7-10), who opened the season with three straight wins and five victories in six starts, is 0-7 in 10 starts since winning at Wrigley Field on May 29. He gave up nine hits, walked two and struck out four in 6 2-3 innings.
Doug Davis (7-10) scattered five hits and struck out eight over 6 2-3 innings. Jose Valverde pitched the ninth for his third save in as many days, and 31st overall, tying him with Milwaukee’s Francisco Cordero for the major league lead.
Dodgers 10, Astros 2
At Houston, Chad Billingsley (7-0) threw a five-hitter for his first complete game, and Jeff Kent had four hits and two RBIs for Los Angeles.
Billingsley took a shutout into the ninth inning and had two outs when Luke Scott hit a two-run homer.
Chris Sampson (7-7) went five innings and allowed four runs and eight hits.
Rockies 7, Padres 5
At Denver, Brad Hawpe’s two-run homer off Cla Meredith capped a five-run eighth-inning rally for Colorado.
Greg Maddux was in line for his 341st career win until Matt Holliday hit a three-run homer off Scott Linebrink (3-3) with one out in the eighth, erasing a 5-2 deficit.
Milton Bradley and Kevin Kouzmanoff homered in support of Maddux, who left with a 5-2 lead after six innings in which he yielded two runs and five hits. Maddux also added a single and stole the 10th base of his 22-year major league career.
Taylor Buchholz (5-3) pitched two shutout innings for the win, and Manny Corpas pitched the ninth for his fifth save.