After working out at Great American Ball Park on Sunday, Reds reliever David Weathers was driving back home and heard WLW’s broadcast of the Reds' 14-7 loss to the Braves.
Weathers was activated from the disabled list before Monday’s game and told a local TV station he had heard Jeff Brantley talk about his teammates quitting and he disagreed.
"The only thing I said is that if it's this easy to play baseball, he should find a uniform. Nothing elaborate," Weathers said after Monday’s 5-3 victory over the Cubs. "Basically, I was taking up for my teammates."
The Reds came into Monday's game losers of five straight, but Weathers didn't believe it was for lack of effort.
"I heard some comments on the radio that he said some guys were quitting and I didn't feel that way," Weathers said. "It's easy to say that when things are going tough for a team, it's easy to dogpile. I felt like he was doing that. Me and Brantley are good friends, and he knows that. We take a lot of pride in what we do. Sometimes when you hear things about your teammates -- and I've been on the DL watching and listening and all those type of things -- sometimes you have to defend your guys. I don't feel like we have anyone quitting. Do we have guys struggling? Yeah, but we don't have anyone who quit."
Brantley went to the clubhouse after the game to discuss the situation with Weathers in person. Weathers said he was "half-serious" about his comments before the game, but more importantly, wanted to protect his teammates.
In his 18th season in the big leagues, Weathers is one of the team’s most vocal leaders. After ending his 15-day disabled list stint for an ulnar nerve irritation in his right elbow earlier in the day, Weathers took action on and off the field to help out the Reds.
With the Reds holding a 5-3 lead in the eighth inning, Weathers got a flyout and stirkeout to the first two batters he faced. Last season's closer then gave up a two-out double to Cubs catcher Geovany Soto, but struck out Mark DeRosa for the final out of the inning and turned the game over to closer Francisco Cordero.
"It felt great to be out there in a winning situation," Weathers said. "I feel bad for Cordero, that's only his fifth time to go out there (for a save) and I didn't want to blow an opportunity for him. … We'd lost five in a row and since we were playing the Cubs, everyone assumed it would be six in a row. We get tired of saying it, but let's build off of it and grab some momentum, because it doesn't get any easier this month, that's for sure."
With the win, the Reds moved percentage points ahead of Pittsburgh for fifth place in the six-team NL Central.
The Reds handed Cubs starter Ryan Dempster -- a former Red -- his first loss of the season. Dempster surrendered five unearned runs -- two from a two-out two-RBI single by Jeff Keppinger in the first and two more on a two-run home run by Adam Dunn in the third.
Johnny Cueto pitched six effective innings, allowing six hits, three runs and striking out eight Cubs, while Cordero struggled to close the game out, loading the bases twice, but didn't give up a run. After walking Alfonso Soriano to lead the bases the first time, a ball got away from catcher Paul Bako, but Cordero covered home and was able to tag Mike Fontenot on a close play at home for the second out of the inning. After walking Ryan Theriot to reload the bases, Cordero got Derrek Lee to ground out to first, where Joey Votto just beat Lee to the bag, to seal the win.
"I was over there trying to be cool, but inside you're churning," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "David Ross at the end of the game said, 'Man, I was more nervous sitting over there than being in the ball game.' I said, 'Try sitting in my seat. That's how it is every night.' That was a good game to win, that would have been a devastating loss right there."
After the game, as Cordero was talking about how he struggled, and was vowing to do better, Dunn walked by and spoke to his closer.
"It doesn't matter, we won," Dunn told him. "Smile."
Cordero did. Beause, finally, the Reds had reason to smile, if only for one night.