McCoy: Reds hang on to top Dodgers, move closer to first place

The Cincinnati Reds presented manager David Bell with a three-year contract extension and his team gifted him with a heart-throbbing 6-5 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers Friday night in Dodger Stadium.

Cincinnati had an early 3-0 lead and a late 6-2 lead but hung by their fingernails to beat the National League West’s first-place team for the third time in four games.

The Reds used a pair of home runs, three double plays and an ugly relief pitching appearance to get it done.

With their seventh win in nine games, the Reds moved back to within a half-game of the Milwaukee Brewers, 10-7 losers Friday in Atlanta.

Back when each league had only two divisions, the Reds were in the National League West. They might wish they were still there because they are 15-8 this season against NL West teams.

The game began with LA’s missile-throwing rookie Bobby Miller, 6-1 when the game began firing a 102 mph fastball past Elly De La Cruz.

A few minutes after that it was Cincinnati 3, Los Angeles 0. De La Cruz tripled into the right field corner and scored on TJ Friedel’s ground ball.

Matt McLain pulled a hustle-double to right and Jake Fraley clanked one off the right field foul pole, a two-run homer.

When Jonathan India singled the Reds had hit for a team cycle.

Then the bats went silent, and the Dodgers tried to peck away at Reds starter Brandon Williamson.

They put their leadoff batters on base in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth. But the Reds turned double plays in the third, fifth and sixth to snuff rallies.

The Dodgers did score in the first on a walk to Freddie Freeman and J.D. Martinez’s double. And they scored in the fourth on a leadoff double by Amed Rosario and a two-out single by No. 9 hitter Miguel Rosario.

After scoring three in the first, the Reds had only two hits from the second through the sixth and it stayed 3-2.

Then LA relief pitcher Yency Almonte made a not-so-grand entrance for the seventh. He retired Joey Votto and then the wheels flew off in every direction.

Spencer Speer homered down the left field line and it 4-2. Tyler Stephenson singled. Will Benson walked. Almonte threw a wild pitch and De La Cruz was walked intentionally to fill the bases.

Almonte then hit Friedl with a pitch, forcing in a run, and walked McLain to force in another.

And the Reds had what they thought was a comfortable lead … until the Dodgers came to bat in the bottom of the seventh and Lucas Sims retired nobody as the Dodgers scored three to pull back to within one, 6-5.

Pinch-hitter David Peralta doubled to right. Sims walked pinch-hitter James Outman on four pitches and Mookie Betts on a full count to fill the bases. Ian Gibaut replaced Sims and Freeman singled for two runs.

Gibaut retired the next two, but Rosario singled home another run and it was 6-5 with two on. Alex Young rushed in from the bullpen to face Max Muncy and he lined one to the warning track that was chased down by Friedl.

The Dodgers threatened in the eighth. Peralta singled with one out. The Reds should have turned their fourth double play on Outman’s grounder, but shortstop De La Cruz couldn’t extract the ball from his glove.

Bell brought in closer Alexis Diaz to face Bett and Outman stole second, putting the potential tying run in scoring position.

Diaz hung a slider and Betts crushed it for what would have been a home run but it curved foul. Diaz the coaxed and inniing-esnding ground ball to leave it at 6-5.

Diaz was forced to face one of the most dangerous segments of LA’s batting order in the ninth — Freeman, Will Smith and Martinez.

Freeman lined hard to left, Smith flied to deep left and it ended when Martinez hit a two-hopper to second baseman McLain and Diaz had his 31st save in 32 opportunities.

It was Cincinnati’s 44th one-run game and it is 23-21.

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