Marlins blank Reds, extend Cincinnati’s scoreless inning streak to 16

Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman’s satisfaction with his team’s 4-1 win over Miami in their series opener on Friday was tinged with concern about their inability to add on after erupting for four runs in the first inning.

They justified Riggleman’s nagging discomfort on Saturday. Marlins left-hander Caleb Smith, who was 1-3 with a 4.40 earned-run average going into the game, and three relievers teamed up to limit Cincinnati to four hits while extending the Reds’ scoreless-inning to 16 innings in a 6-0 loss.

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Smith gave up three hits and a walk and two other Reds reached on Miami errors, but Cincinnati – which went into the game leading the National League with an average of 6.09 runs per game and a .371 on-base percentage over the previous 11 games – couldn’t get a runner past second base while logging the fifth shutout loss of the season, tied with the Marlins for second in the National League behind Milwaukee’s six. The Reds were shut out eight times last season.

“He was really good,” Riggleman said of Smith. “His numbers say he was giving up walks, but he also had a lot of strikeouts. He had good stuff and he showed it tonight. He was really good – a nice, easy delivery. The ball comes out of his hand at 94-95 and he has a good breaking ball. He’s a real challenge.”

Rookie right-hander Tyler Mahle pitched well enough to win, allowing just five hits and three runs with four strikeouts while not walking anybody in six innings, but Starlin Castro’s two-run home run in the first inning was all the scoring Miami needed. Justin Bour added a two-out solo shot in the sixth before Miami took control with a three-run eighth inning.

“I didn’t really settle in,” Mahle said. “The one pitch they got to hit they hit well, but I continued to make just average pitches. I battled all six innings. Six innings and three runs in not good, in my opinion, so I’m not happy.”

The series is scheduled to conclude on Sunday with a 4:10 p.m. start scheduled in deference to the city’s annual Flying Pig marathon earlier in the day. Folks planning to go to the Reds game should be aware that some streets still could be closed because of the marathon and related activities.

Left-hander Brandon Finnegan (0-2), the victim of blown saves in each of his last two starts, is projected to make his fifth start of the season after missing the first two weeks with a left biceps strain. Former Reds right-hander Dan Straily (0-0) will be making his second start of the season after opening the year on the disabled list with right forearm inflammation.

The only Reds to reach second base were Joey Votto with a two-out double in the first, Adam Duvall on Scott Schebler’s sharp single to right in the fifth and Jesse Winker on third baseman Martin Prado’s error of Votto’s grounder in the sixth. Votto was the last batter to face Smith. Miami manager Don Mattingly called for right-hander Drew Steckenrider, who got Eugenio Suarez to pop out to end the inning.

Suarez was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts before grounding into a game-ending double play on his bobblehead night, which drew 19,609 fans to Great American Ball Park.

Mahle faced baserunners in each of the first three innings. Starlin Castro reached him for a two-run homer with one out in the first inning, and the Marlins got runners to second and third with two outs in the second and a runner to second on Jose Peraza’s throwing error in the third, but Mahle got leadoff hitter J.T. Realmuto to hit chopper that catcher Devin Mesoraco fielded in front of the plate to end the second and picked Castro off second to end the third.

“He did fine,” Riggleman said about Mahle. “I looked up at the scoreboard in the first inning and I saw Castro didn’t have a home run and I thought, ‘The law of averages might get us tonight.’”

Mahle retired nine straight Marlins after Peraza’s error before Bour lined a 3-2 pitch over the center field fence in front of the batter’s eye for a 3-0 Miami lead.

The Marlins added three runs in the eighth during a rally fueled by relief pitcher Austin Brice’s failure to cover first base on a grounder to second baseman Scooter Gennett.

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