CINCINNATI -- Billy Hamilton continues to amaze.
In his return to the starting lineup for the Reds' series opener against the Pirates on Friday -- limited to a pinch-hit at-bat Thursday due to a tight left hamstring -- Hamilton led off the first inning by pushing a bunt up the first-base line that was fielded by Gaby Sanchez.
As Sanchez went to tag Hamilton, the Reds' speedster made like an NFL running back evading a tackler, lunging to his left mid-stride and avoiding Sanchez's tag as the first baseman went past.
Hamilton then dove head-first for the base as Sanchez recovered and dove after him, but Hamilton beat Sanchez to the bag for one of the most acrobatic bunt singles you'll ever see.
"I've never done it before [on any level]," Hamilton said of the move. "It was a football move. It's just instincts, you've just got to make something happen. So the first thing that came to mind was just to juke."
Hamilton then came around to score on a double to left field by the next batter, Zack Cozart, giving the Reds an immediate 1-0 lead.
Aroldis sets MLB record with K in 40th straight game
CINCINNATI -- With a strikeout of Jordy Mercer in the ninth inning of Friday's 6-5 win over the Pirates, Aroldis Chapman set a Major League record, dating back to 1900, for most consecutive relief appearances with a strikeout, fanning a batter in his 40th consecutive game. His streak began on Aug. 21, 2013.
Chapman surpassed Bruce Sutter, who did so in 39 straight games from June 1-Oct. 2, 1977.
"I'm proud and happy that I've got the record," Chapman said through translator Thomas Vera. "[Since Thursday] when I learned that it was a record that I tied, it was on my mind, and now I feel happy that I have it, and I pray that I have the ability to extend the record."
Along his ascent to the top of the list, Chapman surpassed Jeff Montgomery (32 straight games from June 18-Sept. 5, 1989) and Eric Gagne (35 games from July 18, 2003-April 10, 2004).
Chapman struck out the side en route to his 20th save on Friday night, getting pinch-hitters Michael Martinez and Matt Hague to up his total number of punchouts during the streak to 83.
By comparison, Montgomery tallied 59 punchouts during his run, while Gagne recorded 65. Sutter struck out 87 in his 39 straight appearances, but in 23 more innings than Chapman. Sutter's streak covered 65 innings, and Chapman's currently spans 42.
Does Chapman see this as just one of several future records that he'll break?
"At this point, I don't know," Chapman said. "If another record comes around, I'd be happy. But at this point, I don't have any other records on my mind; I don't think about records. But when they come, I'll take them."
Latos exits Reds' victory with back spasms
CINCINNATI -- Reds starter Mat Latos left Friday's 6-5 win over the Pirates with low back spasms after completing five innings.
He allowed four runs (three earned) on three hits, walking two and striking out five. All four runs he surrendered came via the home run, as he gave up a solo shot to Andrew McCutchen before a three-run homer to Pedro Alvarez in the fourth inning, which gave the Pirates a 4-1 lead.
Latos appeared to be in discomfort on multiple occasions after delivering pitches before leaving the game.
Once during the third inning and again in the fifth, Reds manager Bryan Price and a trainer went out to check on Latos. Both times, after conferring with the right-hander, Price and the trainer went back to the dugout and Latos carried on.
"After I got the first batter of the third inning, I was just standing on the mound and I got in my ready position like I do to receive the sign, and it just felt like as if [Zack] Cozart or [Ramon] Santiago came up behind me and stabbed me in my lower back. It was real tight."
Latos said he didn't want to come out of the game because the bullpen had to throw so many innings earlier in the week; in Thursday's 6-4, 12-inning loss to the Cubs alone, Cincinnati used six relievers.
"We called up a couple guys to help the bullpen, but me coming out in the third inning wasn't something I was wanting to do," Latos said. "So we came [into the clubhouse] and had the chiropractor adjust me a little bit, and it calmed down for a little bit. It gave me two more innings."
Latos' status was uncertain after the game, and when he was asked how he would be handling the injury moving forward, he said, "I'll do what they tell me to do."
After Latos completed the fifth, Mike Leake pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the frame. Carlos Contreras, called up from Triple-A earlier Friday, relieved Latos in the sixth.
Latos said he didn't feel the pain after running out a sacrifice-bunt attempt that resulted in a 2-6-3 double play in the second, but that it might have been a precursor to the pain he felt later.
"That's a possibility," Latos said. "I could have jarred it trying to beat out that bunt, but I didn't feel it going into the dugout, didn't feel it coming out of the dugout [after that] or during warmups."
Phillips has surgery; Schumaker on concussion DL
CINCINNATI -- Second baseman Brandon Phillips underwent surgery on his left thumb Friday after tearing a ligament on a diving attempt in the Reds' 4-1 win over the Cubs on Wednesday. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list and is expected to be out approximately six weeks.
"I haven't spoken with Dr. [Timothy] Kremchek yet, but I've gotten correspondence from him, and it sounds like it went as well as it could possibly go, and it wasn't necessarily more extensive than they anticipated," manager Bryan Price said. "So we hope that the protocols will be what we expect, and not longer."
Phillips, who bent his thumb on his glove hand back as he dove for an Anthony Rizzo ground ball in the eighth inning, was batting .272 with 19 doubles, seven home runs and 40 RBIs as the regular No. 3 or 4 hitter in the lineup. He also played his usual stellar defense at second base.
One of the two players Price was planning on utilizing at second base in Phillips' absence, Skip Schumaker, was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list prior to Friday's series opener against the Pirates. Outfielder/first baseman Donald Lutz was recalled from Triple-A Louisville and was with the team for Friday's game.
Schumaker slammed hard into the right-field wall trying to make a leaping catch of Luis Valbuena's eventual two-run, go-ahead triple in the 12th inning of Thursday's 6-4 loss to the Cubs.
"When he came out of it, he said, 'I feel good,' and the thing is, [the medical staff] figured that with that type of an impact they should do a concussion test," Price said. "And there were some signs. And we followed up with a doctor, and it just seemed to make sense, because there were signs and we couldn't guarantee that it would be a two- or three-day deal."
"I hit [the wall] hard, yeah," Schumaker said a couple of hours before it was announced that he had been placed on the concussion DL. "I feel like I played maybe in an NFL game today. I hit it harder than I wanted to, but when you're going after the ball, you don't really care where the fence is, especially when it's two outs and [the 12th inning]. ... I'm OK. I'll be all right."
Schumaker had been struggling at the plate, batting .118 (2-for-17) over his previous five games.
Price's other option at second base, Ramon Santiago, had already been seeing increased playing time due to the injury of Joey Votto necessitating Todd Frazier's move to first base on occasion, and he's played well. Going into Friday's contest, he was batting .353 (6-for-17) with two doubles and three RBIs over his previous five games.
"We're going to miss Brandon, no doubt about that," Santiago said. "But nobody's going to feel sorry for us. We're going to go out there with what we've got right here. Now we've just got to come out every day and help the team win ballgames."
Bailey expects to make next start after break
CINCINNATI -- Homer Bailey's early exit in Thursday's 6-4, 12-inning loss to the Cubs gave the already injury-weary Reds a scare, but his slightly strained right knee does not appear as though it will cause him to miss his next start after the All-Star break.
Bailey said before Friday's series opener with the Pirates that his knee felt a little better, and he's optimistic about making that next start.
"It's still pretty sore, it's not like I can go and run a marathon or anything," Bailey said. "Stuff like that happens and kind of puts a big scare into you with the amount of pain that was there, but a little bit of rest, a little bit of R &R is going to go a long way."
Bailey said he felt the pain initially on the pitch before the halted delivery that prompted him to come out. When he tried to make his next delivery, he felt it again and stopped mid-motion before releasing the pitch to Starlin Castro in the sixth inning.
"My cleats kind of got hung up in the rubber and in the dirt and stuff," Bailey said of the first pitch. "When I tried to throw the next one, it was just out of the question."
As far as which spot in the rotation he anticipates being in after the All-Star break, Bailey said he's not planning that far ahead yet.
"I'm going to do whatever the medical staff and [manager Bryan Price] recommend," he said.
"I've thought about [the rotation post-All-Star break] but there are a few things that could hinder that," Price said. "Certainly the All-Star selections and so on, and so forth; certainly at some point in time maybe [Alfredo] Simon is a consideration if one of these Sunday starters is not able to pitch or they have to tweak the roster at all. And the Homer injury.
"So we'll probably have a better idea as we get into Sunday and we have a better idea on the final All-Star setup -- and to make sure that Homer is coming along, and there's nothing to suggest that he won't be ready coming out of the All-Star break."
Reds recall Contreras, Partch; Barnhart optioned
CINCINNATI -- The Reds optioned catcher Tucker Barnhart to Triple-A Louisville and recalled right-handed pitchers Carlos Contreras and Curtis Partch from Louisville on Friday.
Contreras, ranked by MLB.com as the Reds' No. 5 prospect, had been optioned to Louisville on Thursday, but he is back with the club since Cincinnati used six relievers in the 6-4, 12-inning loss to the Cubs and is in need of relief help. That's also the impetus behind Partch being recalled.
Contreras has appeared in three games for the Reds, allowing one run on two hits, walking three and striking out two in 4 1/3 innings (2.08 ERA). He was originally called up from Double-A Pensacola, where he went 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in nine appearances (three starts).
Partch is beginning his third stint with the Reds, having begun the season with the club and being optioned to Triple-A on April 19, when left-hander Sean Marshall came off the disabled list. He returned to Cincinnati on May 1, when left-hander Tony Cingrani was injured, and was sent back down when closer Aroldis Chapman came off the DL on May 10.
Partch has made three appearances for the Reds this season, not allowing a run while giving up one hit, walking three and striking out three in 4 1/3 innings. The 27-year-old made 28 appearances for Louisville this season, posting a 5.61 ERA in 33 2/3 innings.
• Shortstop Zack Cozart was wearing a pad over his wrist for Friday's series opener against the Pirates after being hit by a Kyle Hendricks pitch in Thursday's loss to the Cubs. He said it's an EvoShield padding that molds around the injured area and can be kept in place by Velcro.
"I went and swung a bat yesterday, and I felt plenty good enough," Cozart said. "I'm trying to mold [the pad] to my hand, because if I got hit there again it could be trouble. It's a protective thing."
• After using six relievers on Thursday on top of an already taxing week for the bullpen, the Reds went with only three position players on the bench Friday. Price said that could change by Saturday.
"Really, our situation was we've got a bunch of guys that have pitched three days in a row," Price said. "By tomorrow, for the [relievers] that don't get in there today, a day of rest should hopefully allow us to feel pretty good for the remaining two games of the series and potentially get us another position player [from the Minors]."
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.