Price also felt compelled to reward Mahle’s hustle.
“For that kid to run that hard and get a good slide into the bag — his athleticism saved that game,” Price said.
Last roundup: The Reds opened their final home stand of the season Friday with the first of a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, followed after Monday's day off with three games against St. Louis and three games against Boston.
Despite going 2-5 on the road trip that concluded Thursday, Cincinnati still went into the home stand on pace to finish the season with 69.498 wins, which rounds up to 70 and would be two more than last season.
The attendance pace was less promising. The Reds went into Friday’s game drawing average crowds of 22,796. If they maintain that over the last nine home games, they will finish with 1,846,488, a decrease from last season’s 1,894,085.
That would be the lowest in the 15-year history of Great American Ball Park and the lowest for the franchise since the 1998 team drew 1,793,679.
Taking time: Second baseman Scooter Gennett was not in Price's starting lineup Friday. Gennett hasn't played since injuring his left hand on Tuesday in St. Louis. He was scheduled to take batting practice before Friday's game for the first time since the injury, which would help determine whether he could pinch-hit.
Gennett already has set a career high with 24 home runs. If he hits one more, he will become the fifth Red with at least 25, tying the franchise record set in 1956 when right fielder Frank Robinson was named Rookie of the Year with 38 homers, followed by left fielder Wally Post with 36, first baseman Ted Kluszewski (35), center fielder Gus Bell (29) and catcher Ed Bailey (28).
Votto leads this year’s Reds with 34 home runs, followed by left fielder Adam Duvall with 31, right fielder Scott Schebler with 26 and third baseman Eugenio Suarez with 25.
Walking wounded: Left-handed relief pitcher Wandy Peralta, out since Sept. 2 with a right hip injury, threw on the side before Friday's game, the next step in returning to the bullpen.
Center fielder Billy Hamilton, who went on the disabled list Sept. 7 with a left thumb injury, is expected to keep wearing a splint for the next couple of days, but there was a chance he still could play before the season is over.
“We’ll have a better idea when he’s out of the splint,” Price said.
Familiar foes: Saturday's 4:10 p.m. game features starting pitchers who are quite familiar with their opponents.
Reds rookie right-hander Sal Romano (4-6, 454 earned-run average) will be making his third start of the season against Pittsburgh. He is 0-2 with a combined 3.86 ERA in his first two, including a 3-1 loss at Pittsburgh on Sept. 3 in which he allowed four hits and two runs, one earned, in 5 2/3 innings.
The start for Pirates right-hander Ivan Nova will be his fourth against the Reds this season. He is 0-3 with a 6.35 ERA in the previous three, allowing 26 hits and 15 runs, 12 earned, with three walks and 12 strikeouts in 17 innings.