Barnhart’s career night can’t keep Reds from losing sixth straight

Just matching the 68-94 records of each of the Cincinnati Reds previous two seasons will take a minor miracle – and a major turnaround in their clutch hitting.

The Reds piled up 13 hits, including Tucker Barnhart’s career-high five, but left 13 runners on base and went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position while scoring just four runs on homers by Barnhart and Eugenio Suarez on the way to an 8-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in Friday’s first game of the final series of the 2018 season.

»ASK HAL: Should MLB go to split season?

The sixth straight loss left the Reds 66-94 with two games left against a team that’s won seven straight against the Reds, Pittsburgh’s longest winning streak against them since losing nine straight in 1991. The Pirates improved to 13-4 against the Reds this season.

“It’s a rough go,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “We had lots of baserunners and hits, so that was encouraging. We were swinging the bats a little bit, but we didn’t hold the other club down. Pittsburgh’s been rough on us. I’d rather have them out there and not get them in than not have them out there at all.”

Barnhart homered with Suarez on in the ninth inning to cap his five-hit night.

“It was a really cool night,” Barnhart said. “Capping it off with a home run there in the ninth was pretty sweet. It stinks that we lost, but that’s a night you won’t forget.”

Suarez followed Joey Votto’s one-out double in the third inning with a two-out shot to straightaway center field, his 33rd home run of the season but just his third in what had become a nightmarish month of September. Suarez went into Friday’s game hitting .205 with two home runs and five runs batted in for the month. The homer was his first in 15 games since September 10.

Barnhart, hitting .169 with no homers and four RBIs in September going into the game, hit a single in his first at bat and a triple in his second time up for his first multi-hit game in 14 games since Sept. 9. His sinking liner eluded the grasp of diving right fielder Adam Frazier and rolled all the way to the wall.

Barnhart chalked up his third hit with one out in the fifth when his grounder up the middle got past pitcher Steven Brault and bounced off second base just before second baseman Kevin Kramer was able to field it. His fourth was a bunt single up the third base line.

Anthony DeSclafani, 0-3 with a 7.04 earned-run average in five September starts going into Friday, continued to struggle down the stretch. The Pirates reached him for two runs in the first inning, the first scoring on a double by Corey Dickerson, who went into the game hitting .464 with four home runs in six games this season at Great American Ball Park.

After the Reds tied the game in the third, Pittsburgh reclaimed the lead with one out in the fourth inning on catcher Elias Diaz’s mammoth solo homer into the upper deck in left field.

DeSclafani (7-8) lasted five innings, allowing three hits and three runs with a walk and six strikeouts. His 21 starts are the most for the injury-plagued right-hander since he piled up 31 starts in 2015.

“We lost, so it wasn’t a greatest way to end on, but I’m happy that I was able to keep the team in the game,” DeSclafani said. “September definitely was disappointing. It was an up-and-down year. It’s been a frustrating season.”

The Pirates added two runs in a bizarre sixth inning that started with Starling Marte lining a ball off the glove of leaping shortstop Jose Peraza, Bell dribbling one halfway up the third base line and just beating pitcher Wandy Peralta’s throw and Dickerson hitting a chopped that glanced off Peralta’s glove for a bases-loading single.

Matt Wisler replaced the unlucky Peralta and, after a strikeout, gave up a sacrifice fly and run-scoring single.

About the Author