CINCINNATI — Jason Heyward doubled home two runs with two outs in the 10th inning Friday night, rallying the Atlanta Braves to a 6-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds that restored a little of their rapidly vanishing lead in the NL East.
Atlanta moved 3½ games ahead of second-place Philadelphia, which lost to Washington 8-1 in Roy Oswalt's debut with the Phillies.
Reds closer Francisco Cordero (3-4) walked two batters in the 10th. Heyward worked the count full, then hit a sinking liner that diving left fielder Jonny Gomes couldn't catch, allowing both runners to score.
Jesse Chavez (3-2) escaped a threat in the ninth. Billy Wagner got out of a two-on threat in the 10th, earning his 24th save in 29 chances by fanning Drew Stubbs for the final out.
The dramatic victory was typical for the Braves. They have won 17 games in their final at-bat, most in the majors.
Reds right fielder Chris Heisey prevented them from winning it an inning earlier. He jumped and stole a potential homer from pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad in the top of the ninth.
Joey Votto led the Reds with three hits, including an RBI double and a solo homer off left-hander Jonny Venters that tied it 4-all in the eighth. Votto leads the NL with 27 homers and a .326 average.
The NL East leaders opened the series hoping to get some traction and stop their slide. The Braves led the division by a season-high seven games on July 22, but went 2-4 while the second-place Phillies got hot, winning eight straight and closing the gap to 2½ games.
The Phillies also bolstered the pitching staff during their surge, trading for Oswalt. Washington roughed up Oswalt in his Phillies debut Friday night, allowing Atlanta to push the lead back to 3½ .
Pitching hasn't been the Braves' biggest problem. Their offense went south, scoring a total of six runs in the last three games.
Their top All-Star got it going.
Brian McCann, who won the All-Star game's MVP award for his bases-loaded double, tied it at 3 with a two-run homer in the fifth inning off Johnny Cueto. The Braves wasted a chance to break the game open in the sixth, when they loaded the bases with no outs. All they managed was one run, when Martin Prado hit into a forceout for a 4-3 lead.
Braves starter Kris Medlen allowed three runs in five innings. He was hit on the inside of the right forearm to load the bases in the sixth.
The Reds opened the day a half-game in front of St. Louis in the NL Central. Fans have started taking notice — the crowd of 40,373 was only Cincinnati's fifth capacity crowd of the season.
Arroyo says Reds can win with what they have
Bronson Arroyo, who is scheduled to start for the Reds on Saturday, said it isn't necessary for the Reds to make a late trade in order to contend for a World Series title.
"I don't think anybody is going to complain about having what we have," Arroyo told MLB.com. "From top to bottom, really the only place we probably feel we could use anything, except for a No. 1 starter, is a guy to platoon with in the outfield — like a lefty-righty matchup or a guy off the bench. Other than that, there's nothing else we feel like we don't have and there isn't anybody out there that can help us more than what we have right now. If they don't make one single move, I think everybody in this clubhouse is looking forward to taking on the challenge themselves."
There hasn't been much talk of a trade for the Reds since General Manager Walt Jocketty made a run at ace lefty Cliff Lee, who was dealt from the Mariners to the Rangers.
"If you're not going to go get a true No. 1 starter, which isn't going to happen with Lee and (Roy) Oswalt off the table, I like what we've got," Arroyo told the Web site. "With the guys we have, I like our chances of making the post-season."
Reds Manager Dusty Baker said the team is confident.
"We thought we were pretty good leaving spring training. We haven't changed," Baker said. "If anything, the longer you're around, the more confident you should become."