For most of this baseball season the Cincinnati Reds have lived by the home run or died by the home run, with a funeral involving the Reds after most games.
On Thursday afternoon in Oakland Coliseum, they lived by the home run, with major assistance from starting pitcher Tanner Roark.
The feeble Reds offense produced only three runs, all coming on home runs by Derek Dietrich and Eugenio Suarez, and that’s all Roark needed.
Roark shut the Oakland A’s down on three hits over six innings and the beleaguered bullpen took it from there for a 3-0 Reds victory.
Oakland starter Chris Bassitt, a native of Toledo and a University of Akron product, gave up a two-run home run in the first to Dietrich and a solo shot by Eugenio Suarez in the third.
And that was it. The Reds didn’t score after that as Bassitt righted himself and pitched into the eighth inning. The Reds did little after the third, but Roark made certain that was enough for the Reds to salvage the third game of the series after losing the first two.
Roark, 3-1 with a 3.27 earned run average, was in trouble only twice during his 94-pitch day. The A’s, occupants of last place in the American League West, put runners on second and third with two outs in the fourth. Roark ended that threat by getting Kendrys Morales on a called third strike on a full count.
Roark retired the first two in the seventh before he gave up a double to Stephen Piscotty and walked Chad Pinder on four pitches. That ended his afternoon and Amir Garrett arrived to get Ramon Laureano on a fly to left.
Garrett pitched two-thirds of an inning and gave up a hit. David Hernandez took the Reds into the ninth with 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
Then Raisel Iglesias got what he prefers — a save situation in the ninth inning. And it wasn’t easy. He struck out Matt Olson on three pitches, but walked Morales on a full count.
He retired Piscotty on a fly to center and Chad Pinder doubled to center. That put runners on third and second and brought up the potential tying run in Ramon Laureano
Laureano popped out to first baseman Kyle Farmer (Joey Votto had the day off) to end it.
After leadoff hitter Nick Senzel struck out to open the game, Eugenio Suarez doubled and Derek Dietrich lobbed his 10th home run into the right field seats for a 2-0 lead.
Dietrich’s home run tied Suarez for the team lead, but Suarez rectified that in the third with a home run to left field, his 11th. Suarez had a double later in the game, giving him two doubles and a home run.
Amazingly, the Reds had lost 10 straight interleague games before tucking this one away.
While losing two of three in Oakland (Mike Fiers’ no-hitter Tuesday and Oakland’s 13-inning win Wednesday), the Reds stayed in a San Francisco hotel and get to stay there for the next three days for a three-game series beginning Friday night against the Giants.