Dan Straily thought there was no chance Billy Hamilton would get to the ball. The center fielder ran it down and made a diving catch on the warning track, providing the only break that the pitcher needed.
Straily extended his surge since the All-Star break by pitching six innings and Joey Votto drove in a pair of runs to lead the Cincinnati Reds over the Texas Rangers 3-0 on Tuesday night.
A day after losing to the Dodgers 18-9, the Reds won a close one against a Rangers team that has been shut out three times in its last nine games.
Straily (10-6) hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his eight starts since the break, going 6-0. He gave up three singles and two walks. He also got a huge assist from Hamilton, who ran down Carlos Beltran's fly to left-center field to open the sixth with the game scoreless.
"I usually have a pretty good angle on most of them, and that was the first one all year I thought he had no shot," Straily said. "I was starting to move over to back up third, but he found a way. It's pretty amazing what he's doing out there."
The remarkable catch was a potential game-changer.
"It was just a spectacular play," manager Bryan Price said. "What a difference he makes in center field. If he doesn't win a Gold Glove, there's no justice."
Raisel Iglesias gave up two hits in the seventh but escaped the threat with two strikeouts. Tony Cingrani gave up two walks in the ninth before retiring Ryan Rua on a grounder to complete his 16th save in 21 chances.
Votto singled home a run in the sixth off left-hander Derek Holland (5-6), who had been on the disabled list since June 22 with an inflamed pitching shoulder. Holland gave up four hits and a walk in six innings. He also got his first major league hit, a single off the plate that bounced over Votto's head at first base.
Holland grew up in Newark, Ohio, and had been unbeaten in his home state, going 3-0 in games in Cleveland. He would have loved to get another one at the other end of the state.
"That would have been very nice," he said. "I left quite a lot of tickets. It was definitely good to be back in Ohio in front of family and friends."
Holland's only walk set up the run. He walked Tyler Holt — who pitched a perfect relief inning during Monday's lopsided loss — to open the sixth. Holt advanced on Hamilton's sacrifice bunt and came around on Votto's single to right.
Tyler Barnhart doubled home a run in the seventh off Jeremy Jeffress. Votto added a sacrifice fly in the eighth off Matt Bush.
Straily grounded out in his only at-bat, leaving him 0 for 43 in his career. Cubs pitcher Jon Lester holds the record for a hitless streak to start a career at 0 for 66.
The Rangers are 10-6 in interleague play this season, with their pitchers going 3 for 19 at the plate. The Reds are 5-11. ... The Rangers are making their first visit to Cincinnati since 2007. The Reds lead the interleague series 8-7.
OF Carlos Gomez could join the club in Texas on Thursday. He signed a minor league deal on Saturday and is playing for Triple-A Round Rock. Manager Jeff Banister said he'll get a chance to play left field and right field.
Josh Hamilton Waived
The Rangers placed OF Josh Hamilton on unconditional release waivers, though they hope his left knee is healthy enough to allow him to try for a spot with the team next season. By making the move now, he's eligible to play for them all of next season. He had surgery on June 8 to reconstruct his ACL and repair cartilage damage.
Rangers: RHP Colby Lewis will pitch for Frisco on a rehab assignment Wednesday. He's been sidelined since June 25 with a strained back.
Reds: SS Zack Cozart missed his sixth straight game with a sore left Achilles tendon.
Rangers: Yu Darvish (4-3) is 2-0 in his last three starts with a 1.74 ERA. He has made six straight quality starts, matching the club high for the season.
Reds: Tim Adleman (2-1) makes his sixth career start and his first against the Rangers.