CINCINNATI -- When the Reds beat the Cubs in the series opener on Friday, they did it behind a trio of home runs.
In Saturday's 5-2 win at Great American Ball Park, it was a bunt that changed the game.
With the score tied at 2 in the bottom of the sixth, and Brandon Phillips standing at third, Derrick Robinson came to the plate swinging at the first pitch. On the next one, though, Robinson laid down a bunt, executing the squeeze play to perfection and giving the Reds a lead they would not relinquish.
"We had a good bunter, and we had a good base runner, and we had a guy [Cubs starter Travis Wood] that was throwing strikes," manager Dusty Baker said. "If he was throwing balls, it would be a little more difficult, but we wanted to get the run."
The pitch Robinson laid down was not a strike, as it went high and made the play even riskier than anticipated.
"It wasn't easy," Robinson said. "But it was a fastball, you know, something straight. I was glad I could just get on top of it, and it worked out."
Although the Reds would go on to score two more times in that inning, Baker wanted to make sure his team took the lead after starting pitcher Homer Bailey finished his day in the top half of the inning. Bailey has taken a number of tough-luck losses and no-decisions this season, and Baker didn't want to see it happen again.
"We wanted to get that for Homer, because he's deserved a whole lot more than his 3-3 record indicates," Baker said. "That was a good win for us, and a great win for Homer."
For the first five innings on Saturday, Bailey was the Reds' biggest story. After cruising through his first two innings with relative ease, the 27-year-old right-hander had a tough go of it in the third. Following a walk to David DeJesus, Bailey surrendered an RBI double to Anthony Rizzo. Alfonso Soriano drove home Rizzo with a single in the next at-bat, giving the Cubs the early lead.
More concerning than the runs was the fact it took Bailey 35 pitches to get through the inning.
"That's two-innings worth," Baker said. "So instead of him being done in the eighth, he was done in the sixth. That's what those big innings do for you. The pitch count mounts up, and those are stressful, stressful innings."
Bailey had no trouble responding after laboring in the third, striking out five of the next eight batters he faced. If it wasn't for Welington Castillo's 11-pitch at-bat in the sixth, he said he would have tried to come back out for the seventh.
Instead, the offense took charge and knocked around former Red Wood, who was traded to Chicago for Sean Marshall in 2011. Trailing 2-1 to start the bottom of the sixth, Joey Votto led off with a walk, followed by a Phillips single. Todd Frazier then drove in his second run of the day -- the first of which was a sac fly in the fourth -- scoring Votto on a single and setting up the squeeze play.
Bailey, who has seen the Reds get shut out in two of his starts this season, joked that it was about time the Cincinnati offense came through for him.
"It feels great," Bailey said. "I thought I had [ticked] somebody off. They picked me up today. They'll do that more times than not, so I was really glad to have it today."
The Reds' offense has actually been on a tear this month, walking off the field as the highest-scoring team in the National League in May with 111 runs. They've converted that into 15 wins this month, and, combined with an equally impressive pitching staff, won five in a row and 16 of the last 20.
Cincinnati now sits at 31-18 on the year. The last three Reds teams to hit the 30-win mark by the 50th game of the season all won the division championship, while the 1990 team also went on to win the World Series.
"This team obviously has big boys, veteran guys, really smart guys on the field," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of the Reds. "The lineup is really good throughout, and the pitching they have is some of the best in baseball."
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.