McCoy: Reds rally falls short in loss to Braves

If Atlanta pitcher Charlie Morton can pitch a 1-2-3 inning in the World Series with a broken leg, what would he do against the Cincinnati Reds with two solid legs?

Morton retired the first 12 Reds in order Friday night in Truist Park while his teammates beat up on rookie Reds pitcher Reimer Sanmartin.

Still, it was a scary 7-6 victory for Morton and the Braves on a chilly night in Georgia. After falling behind, 7-0, the Reds chipped away and scored three in the ninth to pull within one run and had the tying run on base when Jonathan India flied out to end it.

Last fall, Morton fractured a tibia in his leg, but stayed on the mound for an inning and retired all three Houston Astros, including two via strikeouts.

On Friday, his first game after breaking his leg, Morton cut down the first 12 Reds like Kansas wheat before Joey Votto opened the fifth with a first-pitch single to center field

By then, it was already 7-0 because Sanmartin needed GPS and a Sherpa to find home plate. In 2 1/3 innings, he walked five, gave up four hits and was charged with five runs. He recorded only seven outs while putting nine runners on base. Four of the five batters he walked scored.

Sanmartin was 2-and-0 last September in his first two starts as a major leaguer and was bidding to become the first Reds left hander to win his first three major league starts in 123 years. The last was Noodles Hahn in 1899.

The Colombian-born Sanmartin put two runners on base in the first inning but was bailed out by an inning-ending double play.

But he walked Adam Duvall on four pitches and Eddie Rosario on five pitches to begin the second. Travis d’Arnaud singled for a run and Orlando Arcia hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0, as both runners who scored reached base walks.

All four wheels flew off in the third when Sanmartin issued another walk to Austin Riley. Marcell Ozuna singled and Adam Duvall doubled off the top of the right field wall to push it to 3-0.

Jeff Hoffman replaced Sanmartin and d’Arnaud ripped a two-run single off third baseman Mike Moustakas’ glove. Arcia singled home a run and the seventh run scored on Ozzie Albies’ fielder’s choice.

The Reds finally got to Morton in the fifth when Votto became the first Cincinnati batter to reach base. With one out, Nick Senzel doubled and Votto scored on a sacrifice fly by Moustakas.

And the Reds rid themselves of Morton in the sixth after he walked Jake Fraley and Jonathan India grounded out.

A.J. Minter took over and with two outs he walked Tommy Pham, hit Votto with a pitch to loaded the bases and Tyler Stephenson singled hard off third baseman Riley’s glove for two runs.

The Reds were within reach, at 7-3, with three innings remaining.

Morton pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up two runs, two hits, one walk, struck out five and was credited with a win.

On the positive side, two Reds rookie pitchers, Daniel Duarte and Alexis Diaz, made their major league debuts and each contributed a scoreless inning.

Duarte made his debut in the sixth and gave up a double to Mat Olson, but nothing else while striking out two.

The Braves sent Will Smith to the mound in the seventh … no, not THAT Will Smith, but this Will Smith did slap down the Reds 1-2-3.

Diaz followed Duarte’s major league debut with his own debut in the seventh for the Reds. And he was perfect, 1-2-3 with two strikeouts, including d’Arnaud, who had two hit and three RBI when he walked to the plate.

Then veteran pitcher Buck Farmer made his Reds’ debut in the eighth. He struck out the first two, walked Albies on a full count and gave up a single to Olson.

With runners on third and first with two outs, Riley lined to left and Farmer escaped damage.

The Reds made a threat in the ninth after those three scoreless innings by new pitchers.

After they sent six up and six down in the seventh and eighth, they made Atlanta’s new closer and former Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen break out in a cold sweat.

The Reds scored three runs and had the tying run on base with two outs. They put two on with no outs. Jansen walked Votto on a full count and Stephenson singled, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Senzel struck out, Moustakas hit into a fielder’s choice and. Kyle Farmer singled for a run with two strikes.

Newcomer Jake Fraley also had two strikes on him when he singled home two runs to make it 7-6. India had two strikes, too, but he flied to center and that was that.

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