One night after tying their single-game season high with 14 runs, the Reds could barely scratch out a hit for eight innings against a New York Mets right-hander who entered with a 2-9 record and 5.64 earned-run average.
Rafael Montero allowed three hits over a career-high 8 1/3 innings and New York made two first-inning runs stand up in a 2-0 win before Cincinnati’s second-smallest crowd of the season — 12,491, fewer than 2,000 more than the 10,586 who witnessed the Reds-Phillies game April 6.
“It’s a strange game,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “One day you get 14 runs and — what? — 15 hits. The next you have one hit after eight. Give credit to the kid. He worked down and ahead and threw strikes.”
Montero, making his 28th appearance but only 13th start of the season, rolled through the Reds like Hall of Famer Tom Seaver in his prime working against the 1962 Mets — one of the worst teams in history. Montero, who’d allowed three runs in 4 1/3 innings of his only previous start against Cincinnati, allowed four walks — one intentional — and struck out a season-high eight, two short of matching his career-high.
The Reds finally got to Montero in the ninth, loading the bases with one out on Phillip Ervin’s single, Zack Cozart’s double and Joey Votto’s intentional walk. Closer A.J. Ramos came on to strike out Adam Duvall looking and Scooter Gennett swinging.
“That was a nice job,” Price said. “I thought we were in business, but Ramos came in and made some big pitches to (Duvall) and Scooter. (Montero) pitched a great game.”
The shutout loss was Cincinnati’s sixth, fourth at home. The shutout was the seventh of the season overall at Great American Ball Park and 128th in the 15-year history of the ballpark.
Speaking of aberrations, the homerless game was the sixth of the season at GABP and 104th in history.
The loss guaranteed a losing home stand for the Reds, who’ve lost five of eight against the Cubs, Pirates and Mets with one to play Thursday at 12:35 p.m.
Homer Bailey, making his first start since leaving after three innings Aug. 22 against the Cubs with irritation in the back of his right shoulder, bounced back from giving up two first inning runs to finish six. The Mets collected four hits with a walk and strikeout, and Bailey also hit a batter. He threw 73 pitches, 47 for strikes, while overcoming the absence of his usual crackling fastball.
“Sometimes, you have to pitch with what you’ve got,” Bailey said. “I’m still kind of feeling things out. After coming out of the last game, you don’t want to go redline.”
Bailey didn’t disagree with the decision to cap his outing at six innings.
“I wasn’t really tired,” he said. “We just weren’t sure about going through their lineup a third time. We felt we’d be better off getting a pinch-hitter up there and hopefully get something going.”
Tim Adleman turned in three innings of one-hit relief to keep the Reds in the game.
Montero allowed one baserunner, Cozart on a one-out walk in the first inning, until Votto one-hopped the left field wall with a one-out double in the fourth for Cincinnati’s first hit. Duvall followed with a walk, but Gennett hit into an inning-ending double play.
Ervin made his first major-league appearances in center field and in the leadoff slot with Billy Hamilton getting the day off, and living up to baseball tradition, the baseball immediately found him. Jose Reyes led off the game with a screaming line drive to almost straightaway center that Ervin could not catch up with, leaving Reyes with a double. Brandon Nimmo followed with a fly ball to — where else? — center field. Asdrubal Cabrera grounded out before Wilmer Flores and Kevin Plawecki came up with back-to-back doubles for a 2-0 lead.
Bailey didn’t want to blame the extra rest for not being sharp in the first.
“Sometimes, you’re not quite as sharp with a few extra days of rest,” he admitted, adding, “but I’m not going to use that as an excuse for them scoring two runs in the first. It was just that kind of day.”
Ervin later was charged with an error when he let a base hit bounce off of his body.