McCoy: Reds blow five-run lead, but rally to win sixth straight

The Cincinnati Reds celebrate after a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Friday, April 9, 2021, in Phoenix. The Reds won 6-5 in 10 innings. AP Photo/Matt York)
The Cincinnati Reds celebrate after a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Friday, April 9, 2021, in Phoenix. The Reds won 6-5 in 10 innings. AP Photo/Matt York)

Credit: Matt York

Credit: Matt York

The Cincinnati Reds nearly saw their bubble burst Friday night, the bubble punctured by the bullpen.

A 10th-inning, two-out single by catcher Tucker Barnhart provided the Reds with a 6-5 victory in a game that never should have lapsed into extra innings.

The Reds led, 5-0, in the seventh inning and the Diamondbacks had been as silent as a mouse.

But Cam Bedrosian and Sean Doolittle gave up three runs in the seventh and Lucas Sims gave up a two-run home run in the eighth to tie it, 5-5.

In the 10th, Eugenio Suarez, who made the last out of the ninth, became Rob Manfred’s runner on the second start the inning. He moved to third on a Mike Moustakas ground ball. Pinch-hitter Tyler Stephenson struck out for the second out.

The D-Backs walked pinch-hitter Aristides Aquino intentionally and Barnhart came through.

Game over? Not yet. Another bullpenner, Amir Garrett, made it a nerve-wracker. With two outs, he walked Josh Rojas. Then he threw  wild pitch to put runners on third and second — the potential tying and winning runs in scoring position. Manager David Bell made a scary gamble by intentionally walking Carson Kelly to load the bases.

But Garrett retired Pavia Smith on a ground ball and the Reds survived to win their sixth straight game.

Reds starter Tyler Mahle pitched a no-hitter ... but there is more to the story. Much more.

Mahle did not get qualify for the win because he was not pitch-efficient and didn’t pitch the required five innings to earn a victory. But the bullpen made certain it didn’t matter.

Mahle needed 92 pitches to cover four innings, forcing manager David Bell to take the baseball away from him after the fourth inning with the Reds leading the D-Backs, 2-0.

It was no problem, at first, because Tejay Antone took care of business for two innings.

Antone gave up a single to the first batter he faced, Carson Kelly, a ball that ricocheted off the glove of third baseman Moustakas. Then he retired the next six, three via strikeouts as lis fastball flirted with 100 mph.

Trouble reared its ugly head against the Reds in the seventh when the Diamondbacks awoke to score three runs against Bedrosian and Doolittle.

And the D-Backs, 2-6 this season, had the potential tying runs on base with two outs. Pinch-hitter Wayne Mathisen drilled one down the third base line and Moustakas made a belly-slam back-handed snag to end the uprising.

Then came the eighth and Sims and a two-run homer and a tie game. Sims walked the first hitter, Asdrubal Cabrera. The second batter, Eduardo Escobar, deposited a home run over the right field fence to tie it, 5-5.

Mahle’s problem was too many 3-and-2 counts, four in a row at one point. He walked four and struck out six.

Mahle’s four scoreless innings, though extended a nifty streak by Cincinnati starting pitchers — 23 straight scorless innings. Luis Castillo furnished seven, Wade Miley six and Jose DeLeon six.

Offensively, Jesse Winker returned to the lineup after missing six days. And leading off the game he doubled off the top of the center field wall. He went 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. When he scored on a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning, he took a couple of missteps and was removed an inning later.

And just because Winker started in left field didn’t mean Tyler Naquin went to the bench. Naquin started in center field and crushed another 454-foot home run. It was his fifth in this embryonic season, his third in three games.

In addition to his game-winning single, Barnhart contributed a pair of doubles and drove in two and scored one.

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