By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — On Mother’s Day, for the Cincinnati Reds there was no Zack Cozart, no Billy Hamilton, no Eugenio Suarez, no Tucker Barnhart and no victory.
Manager Bryan Price decided to give those four regulars a day off against the Milwaukee Brewers and their stand-ins weren’t up to producing enough runs.
And it goes without saying that the bullpen was an unmitigated disaster. At this point, somebody needs to pat the bullpenners on the head and say, “Don’t worry, your mothers still love you.”
By stopping the Reds, 5-4, the Brewers split the four-game series and shoved the Reds back down into the depths of last place in the National League Central.
Also, what’s a day or two without an injury to a Reds pitcher? John Lamb started the game and owned a 4-1 lead when he began the fifth inning. But on his fifth pitch he sprained his left thumb and had to turn festivities over to the Reds bullpen.
These days, watching the Reds’ bullpen work is long, arduous, painful torture and Sunday was no exception.
Steve Delabar replaced Lamb and his third pitch was rocketed out of the park by Hernan Perez to cut Milwaukee’s deficit to 4-2. Delabar gave up another run in the sixth on back-to-back doubles by Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy and it was 4-3.
Next was Blake Wood and he gave up a run in the seventh without giving up a hit. He walked the first two he faced on four pitches each, threw a wild pitch, and gave up the tying run on a ground ball by Jonathan Villar.
Ross Ohlendorf took the mound in the eighth and it took him two pitches to give up the inevitable go-ahead home run, a 1-and-0 pitch to Lucroy to make it 5-4.
In place of the regulars were Ivan DeJesus Jr. at shortstop, Tyler Holt in center field, Jordan Pacheco at third base and Ramon Cabrera behind the plate.
After Braun homered in the first for a 1-0 Milwaukee lead, the Reds scored three in the third that included run-scoring back-to-back doubles by Holt and DeJesus. And it became 4-1 in the fourth on Adam Duvall’s sixth home run.
After Duvall’s home run in the fourth, the Reds managed just one more hit, an infield hit up the middle by Ramon Cabrera in the seventh and two other Reds reached base via walks through the eighth.
Jordan Pacheco singled with one out in the ninth and Billy Hamilton, the potential tying run became the pinch-runner. He didn’t try to steal until after Cabrera lined to center.
With two outs and Cozart pinch-hitting, Hamilton tried to steal and Lucroy threw him out. The play was reviewed bu the out call stood and the game mercifully ended.
“When we’re healthy, we could have a set lineup,” said Price. “We still have to respect and appreciate what Cozart goes through to take the field (after knee surgery last year). There is a limited period of time he can play before he needs a day off. And it’s the same to a certain extent with Hamilton. So it’s hard to use the same lineup every day.”
Price had used the same lineup Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the first time he used the same lineup three games in a row since game two through five at the start of the 2015 season.
And there is another reason.
“I have to get the bench players some game time,” he said. “I think Jordan Pacheco (third base) has started only three games. And Tyler Holt (center field)hasn’t had a whole lot of starts. In order for the guys on the bench to give us any real value they have to get periodic starts.”
That ‘Every Day’ lineup consists of Cozart batting leadoff, followed by Hamilton, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Eugenio Suarez, Adam Duvall, Tucker Barnhart and the pitcher.