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CINCINNATI (AP) - The Reds fired Dusty Baker on Friday, ousting the manager who led them to their best stretch of success since the Big Red Machine but couldn’t get them past the first round of the postseason.
The move came after the Reds lost the wild-card playoff in Pittsburgh 6-2 on Tuesday night, ending the season with their sixth straight loss. He had a year left on his two-year deal.
The Reds are the fourth team with an opening at manager. Davey Johnson retired after the Nationals’ season, Eric Wedge left the Mariners and the Cubs fired Dale Sveum after finishing last in the NL Central.
Baker took over a rebuilding team in 2008 and led it to three 90-win seasons and playoff appearances in the last four years, their best run since Sparky Anderson managed the Big Red Machine to two World Series titles in the 1970s.
Cincinnati couldn’t get past the opening round of the playoffs, however, building pressure for change.
“Dusty played an important role in the recent success of this organization, and we thank him for his contributions during his time here,” general manager Walt Jocketty said in a statement. “We feel a change is necessary, however, if we are to continue to move the organization forward.”
The 64-year-old manager didn’t get to celebrate the Reds' last two playoff clinching wins. Last year, he was in a hospital in Chicago recovering from an irregular heartbeat and a mini-stroke when the Reds wrapped up the NL Central title in Cincinnati.
They decided not to celebrate when they clinched a wild card this year with a 90-72 record, hoping for that deep run in the playoffs. Instead, they lost their last five games of the regular season to finish third and dropped the one-game playoff at PNC Park.
Baker went 509-463 in his six seasons with Cincinnati, finishing third on the Reds’ list for wins by a manager behind Anderson (863) and Bill McKechnie (744). His 1,671 career wins ran 16th on the career list. He won three NL Manager of the Year awards.
The former Braves and Dodgers star outfielder is one of only six managers to win at least 300 games with three different teams. He took the Giants, Cubs and Reds to the playoffs seven times without winning a World Series.
His successor in Cincinnati will take the job with enormous expectations from the outset.
Baker led the Reds out of one of their worst stretches in franchise history. After Johnson led them to the NL championship series in 1995, the bottom fell out. They failed to reach the playoffs under managers Ray Knight, Jack McKeon, Bob Boone, Dave Miley and Jerry Narron, going 15 years without a postseason appearance.
They won the division in 2010 with a young lineup that developed faster than expected, and got swept by Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs _ a disappointment that was counted as a first step in building a championship team.
They won 97 games last year, the second-most in the majors and their highest total since the 1975-76 World Series championships. They won their first two playoff games in San Francisco, but dropped three straight in Cincinnati for a stunning exit.
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