MILWAUKEE (AP) — Zack Cozart’s lasting memories of his major-league debut will be better when he looks back at the night’s souvenirs. Right now, the former Ole Miss Rebel’s biggest memory is the rally-killing double play he hit into.
The highly-touted prospect singled, scored his first run and made a defensive play to save another, but the Cincinnati Reds fell behind early and failed to rally despite numerous chances late in a 5-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night. Cozart bounced into a double play with two on and no outs in the sixth and the Reds failed to score in the inning.
“What’s going to stick out to me is hitting into the double play. That’s what I’m thinking about right now. I’m happy to get that first hit out of the way. Hopefully there’s a lot more of those,” Cozart said.
Cozart had the ball in a protective case above his locker and said he expected his wife to gather it and the game tickets as keepsakes. Cozart’s biggest surprise came when his parents — David and Mary Cozart — flew in unexpectedly the day of the game.
“At first they said they were going to meet us after the All-Star break in Cincinnati, then all of a sudden I got all these text messages right before the game saying, ‘Hey, we ended up flying’ so my parents were here and my wife and one of my buddies,” Cozart said. “It’s pretty cool.”
Cozart took over for Paul Janish at shortstop and made an impact in his first major-league game. The 25-year-old saved a run in the third with runners on the corners when he stabbed a grounder going to his right, throwing across the diamond to get Corey Hart at first to end the inning.
“He made some nice plays, the one he threw Corey out on, I thought he was going to go to second,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “I was surprised. He got Corey pretty easy. Nice range from the kid and it looks like he swings the bat well.”
In the fourth, Cozart singled with two outs, getting acknowledgement from Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, and scored with a headfirst slide on Ramon Hernandez’s single when Rickie Weeks’ relay throw from second was wide right of the plate.
“I was pretty excited, I’m not going to lie. Prince was asking me how I felt, I said I felt pretty good,” he said. “It’s always good to get that first one.”
Still, the sixth-inning double play still bugged him afterward. Reds manager Dusty Baker thought it was a strong debut for Janish’s replacement.
“He did a real good job at shortstop and made some fine plays,” Baker said.
Weeks hit a line-drive shot off Homer Bailey (3-4) as the Brewers built a 5-2 lead in the fifth.
Brewers reliever LaTroy Hawkins gave up an RBI groundout to Jay Bruce to make it 5-3 in the eighth, but got out of further trouble after putting runners on the corners with no outs. John Axford allowed a homer to Hernandez, then gave up a one-out walk to Drew Stubbs who was caught stealing on a pitch out for the second out.
“I called it. That’s why it’s called stealing; sometimes you get caught,” Baker said. “They guessed right.”
Miguel Cairo followed with a broken-bat single just out of the reach of Weeks and Joey Votto singled through the shifted infield. Axford then managed to pick up his 23rd save on Brandon Phillips’ comebacker as Cincinnati lost for the fifth time in seven games.
“That would’ve been great to win that one,” Baker said.
The Reds called up RHP Carlos Fisher along with Cozart and sent down Janish along with RHP Edinson Volquez. … The Reds are expected to start LHP Dontrelle Willis on Sunday in Volquez’s spot. … Of Hernandez’s nine home runs, four of them have come in the ninth inning. … Bailey only recorded one strikeout, his fewest this season. … The Reds have still won 22 of their last 28 against the Brewers. (July 8, 2011, Page 7A)