APRIL 23, 1972...The Cincinnati Reds blow a 3-1 lead in the 11th inning and fall into the NL Western Division cellar with the 4-3 loss to Atlanta.
Jack Billingham started for the Reds and proved to be sharp and effective. He allowed just 5 hits in 7 shutout innings before tiring in the 8th inning. He gave up a game tying solo HR to Hank Aaron before getting out of the inning. Hard throwing lefty Tom Hall held the Braves at bay in the 9th and 10th innings. The Reds broke the game open in the top of the 11th when Julian Javier singled in Johnny Bench, who drew a walk earlier in the inning. A Hal McRae sacrifice fly later scored Ted Uhlaender. The lead wasn't safe as the wheels were about to come off for the Reds in the bottom of the 11th inning. Reds' right hander Jim McGlothlin let the lead slip away in the bottom of the 11th by allowing the Braves 3 runs on four hits. In that mess was a Darrell Evans solo shot over the centerfield fence.
The Reds' offensive force continues to struggle at this early point in the season. Johnny Bench went 0-for-2 to continue his hitting woes. Bench has just one hit in 22 at-bats on the season for a dismal .045 batting average. RBI man Tony Perez is out of the lineup indefinitely with a muscle spasm in his neck.
Reds' utilityman Julian Javier was pressed into the starting lineup as the third baseman with Denis Menke moving from third base over to first base. Javier responded with a 3 hits and a stolen base. Reds' spare outfielder Cesar Geronimo entered the game in the bottom of the 11th as a defensive replacement for left-fielder Pete Rose. Say what? Rose was obviously upset after the game, but would not openly comment on the situation. No one could remember Rose ever leaving a game for a defensive replacement. Rose has won two Gold Gloves as one of the top three NL outfielders and has committed just three errors the past two seasons.