Ron Gant said he was really nervous when he came to bat for Cinci
HOUSTON (AP) _ Ron Gant said he was really nervous when he came to bat for Cincinnati in the 10th inning against the Houston Astros. Reliever Todd Jones should have been the nervous one.
Gant hit a home run off Jones to give Cincinnati a 3-2 victory over Houston on Sunday and a sweep of their four-game series in the Astrodome.
``Extra-inning games always make you nervous,″ Gant said. ``I’d rather win it in nine.
``But there’s one good thing. Those are the type of games, if you win, it means a lot of confidence for your team. That’s what makes me nervous. You want to win a little more in that situation.″
It was the first time the Reds swept the Astros in Houston since June 1, 1972. But Gant achieved another, more significant milestone: His homer was his fourth in extra innings this season, tying a National League record for extra-inning home runs set by Willie Mays.
``What was the guy’s name again?″ Gant joked.
``I’m not keeping count, but I know he was one of the best players of all time. It’s something special to be mentioned in the same breath as him.″
Reds manager Davey Johnson doesn’t mind mentioning Gant in any breath. ``He’s such a great player,″ Johnson said of Gant. ``I don’t think I’d have pitched to him in that situation if I was on the other side.
``He didn’t just hit it out. He crushed it. And it’s not like they made a mistake against him. They made a good pitch and he still beat them. It looked like it was down, it was a 3-2 breaking ball and the guy (Jones) throws 92 miles per hour.″
``It looks like he’s throwing 100 miles per hour,″ Gant said, ``with the smooth delivery he has and all that power. I was looking for a fast ball and I adjusted to the curve. There’s no way you can look for a curve because he’ll just blow it by you.″
``I think Ron takes his game to a higher level in extra innings,″ Reds reliever Xavier Hernandez said. ``That was a 3-2 curve from Todd Jones. You can’t be looking for that. It just tells you what kind of player Ron is.″
The loss was hard for Jones (3-1) to take.
``I let the team down out there,″ Jones said. ``You can’t do that when your team is struggling like we are. Today was an important game and I didn’t come through.
``I know Ron Gant can hit my fast ball, so I wasn’t about to give him one of those. It looks like he can hit my curve ball, too.″
``Gant has just been wearing us out,″ said Astros manager Terry Collins, whose team lost its sixth straight and is now 7-15 at home. ``The guy’s playing great.
``We didn’t execute and when you aren’t executing this is what happens to you, especially against a team as good as these guys are.″
Gant still has more than half a season to break the Mays record. He isn’t discounting his chances.
``It seems like my concentration is better in extra-inning situations,″ Gant said. ``Plus, I think the more you do it, the more you are comfortable doing it.
``I’m sure we’re going to have more extra-inning games sometime this season. Hopefully, the outcomes won’t change for me. But I still do get nervous in them.″
Gant has been coming up with big hits all season to help the Reds climb atop the NL Central.
``I may have more game-winning hits right now,″ he said. ``But there’s going to be more guys coming through like this.
``That’s the way you win pennants and championships, with each guy coming through sometime and lifting the club. There have been times when I wasn’t getting the job done and someone else picked us up.″