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Last weekend, Rose was finding it hard to do the separating. On Saturday, he penned himself into the lineup again, batting second, playing first. "I thought I'd wait until this hype thing is over," he said, by way of apologizing to Esasky.
The Reds looked awful in the first inning. Before the Cubs made one out, the Reds committed three errors and a balk, and as Rose strode around the infield, fist high to indicate no outs, Chicago scored four runs. After one inning it was 7-0.
But Cincinnati fought back. Rose drove in a run with a single to straightaway center in the fourth, bringing the fans to their feet. The Reds closed to within 8-5, then 9-7, before the Cubs took command again, 13-7. But wait. Cincinnati scores two in the eighth. In the ninth, Rose hits his third single up the middle to drive in his second run. Chicago wins 13-11, but the Reds go out sliding, headfirst.
After the game, Rose, who had used 17 players, allowed as how he might have to keep his first baseman in the lineup for another game. "What would you do?" he asked. "I'm batting .500."
Esasky, one of only two Reds non-pitchers not utilized, agreed with him. "He's getting hits and driving in runs," said Esasky. "Why take him out of the lineup? Besides, I'm just really excited to play for Pete."
On Sunday Rose got three more hits in five at-bats, giving him a batting average of .533 for the three games. His managing average, though, was only .500 in the series finale. In the fourth inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, he let Russell hit, even though the pitcher was trailing 4-1. So Russell lined a bases-clearing double into the leftfield corner to tie the score. Redus knocked in Russell, and with the crowd chanting, "Pete! Pete!" Rose singled to score Redus to give the Reds a 6-4 lead.
But in the top of the fifth, with two men on and the score tied, Rose let the righthanded Russell pitch to lefthanded pinch hitter Thad Bosley. Bosley hit a three-run homer, accounting for the final score of 9-6.
Several conclusions could be drawn from Rose's return to Cincinnati. He's a bust at developing young talent. He can't sit still as all good, dignified managers should. And he's having much too much fun for someone of his station.
But he brings life to the Reds, and they in turn have brought him a new life. Whether it's leaping over tarps after foul balls, spiking the ball defiantly after a third out, lining yet another single, or sliding headfirst, Pete Rose is making a lot of people feel young again.