By HAL McCOY
The Ogre is gone, no longer lurking over the shoulders of the Cincinnati Reds. The Ogre has left the building.
The 11-game losing streak is h-i-s-t-o-r-y.
IT WASN’T EASY and it was full of controversy, but the Reds scored a 7-6 victory Saturday afternoon over the Milwaukee Brewers in Miller Park.
Where to start, oh, where to start?
Well, for one thing, it took a decision 880 miles away from Milwaukee for the Reds to score the decisive run — a replay/review in the ninth inning decided back in MLB headquarters in New York.
THE SCORE WAS TIED, 6-6, and the Reds had the bases loaded with one out. Adam Duvall hit a ground ball to shortstop, an easy 6-4-3 double play. Inning over.
But, wait. The Reds asked for a review, asked the folks back in New York to check to see if Milwaukee second baseman Scooter Gennett touched second base on the force at second.
Until the rules were changed this year an infielder turning a double play at second base only had to be in the same area code as second base to get the force, never really had to touch second base.
Now, the rules say the infielder must come in contact with the bag. And the reviewers in New York said, “Nope, Gennett didn’t touch second base.”
So the out at second base was wiped away, the double play was wiped away, and a run scored on the decision, the winning run.
THAT CULMINATED A rare Reds comeback. They trailed 6-1 after six innings and the comeback was the largest deficit they have overcome this year.
They scored five runs in the seventh inning and Adam Duvall’s second three-run home run in two days tied it, bringing the Reds back from 6-3 to 6-6.
Cincinnati starter Alfredo Simon gave up two runs in the first inning, but was sailing comfortable after that. But his temper got the best of him.
The Reds scored a run in the fourth when Duvall doubled and Tyler Holt doubled him home. Holt took third on a fly ball to right field. Then, with Simon batting, Holt broke for home, a steal attempt.
MILWAUKEE PITCHER CHASE Anderson saw Holt headed home and threw the pitch right at Simon and hit him. That negated the theft of home, forcing Holt to go back to third.
Simon was enraged, slamming his bat to the ground and complaining to the umpire.
So when Anderson came to bat in the fifth, even though he was in a tight game, trailing by only 2-1, Simon extracted his pound of revenge by hitting Anderson with a pitch.
Umpire James Hoye immediately ejected Simon.
In the second inning, Anderson hit two Reds with pitches, Eugenio Suarez and Tucker Barnhart. The Reds had the bases loaded with one out, but Simon hit into a double play.
BEFORE THE GAME was over, six batters were hit by pitches, four Reds and two Brewers. Six hit batters in a game tied a National League record and, amazingly, the last time it happened was this year — Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates just a couple of weeks ago.
After Simon left, the Brewers scored a run off A.J. Morris and two runs off Caleb Cotham to build the 6-1 lead.
The Reds wiped that out with a five-run seventh. Tucker Barnhart started it with a double and pinch-hitter Ivan DeJesus Jr. flied to center. Zack Cozart struck out and his futility is at 0 for 18.
This time, though, the rally didn’t die. Joey Votto singled, his second hit and the first time in the month of May he had more than one hit in a game and Barnhart scored. Brandon Phillips singled to put two on base and Duvall unloaded his 11th home run to tie it, 6-6.
THE GAME-WINNING rally began in the ninth when Cozart was hit by a pitch, the sixth batter hit on this day. Votto forced Cozart at second and Phillips walked. Jay Bruce poked a single to left to fill the bases with one out.
Then came the almost double play on Duvall, called a double play, but overruled in New York and Duvall was credited with his fourth RBI of the day and seventh in two days.
THAT LEFT IT UP to Tony Cingrani to record the save and he did it in near-perfect fashion, two strikeouts, a tantalizing walk, then another strikeout, this one pinch-hitter Marin Maldonado to end the game, Cingrani’s fourth save.
So the 11-game losing streak is a bad memory, not a distant memory, but at least it’s over.
During the losing streak the Reds hit .187 and averaged 2.8 runs per game. The team pitching earned run average was 7.13.
AND IT IS TOO bad that Simon let his temper get the best of him because he was on his way to a decent start, one he needed badly.
The 35-year-old Simon, making $2 million this year, was 1-and-5 with a 10.16 earned run average in six starts this season. In his last 22 starts the Reds were 5-and-17 and 1-and-9 in his last 10 starts.
But the Reds will take the four-plus innings he gave them — three runs (two earned), three hits, two walks and a strikeout.
And the Reds say, with a deep bow, “Thank you, New York. Thanks for review/replay.”