By Hal McCoy
On a scale of ugliness, if Monday night’s Cincinnati Reds-Atlanta Braves baseball game looked in a mirror it would shatter.
It was a game one might expect from two teams with the worst records in baseball.
The Reds pulled it out in the ninth inning, 9-8. And how did they do it? Joey Votto blooped a wedge shot down the left field line that plopped on the green between three caddies — the third baseman, the shortstop and the left fielder. And he ended up with a double.
That led the ninth. And did somebody stroke a dramatic hit? Well, no. The winning run scored on a bases loaded walk to Tyler Holt.
IN FACT, HERE IS how the Reds scored runs against a charitable Atlanta pitching staff: a wild pitch scored a run, two bases loaded walks scored two runs and two sacrifice flies scored two runs. That’s five of their nine runs.
And the game bounced back-and-forth like a Standard Duncan yo-yo.
—THE REDS SCORED three in the first inning against Atlanta starter Aaron Blair (0-and-4, 7.59 earned run average) on a leadoff walk to Zack Cozart, Jay Bruce’s league-leading sixth triple and Adam Duvall’s 18th home run, a two-run rip.
—THE BRAVES SCORED two in the bottom of the first against Daniel Wright, making his second major league start when he, too, walked the first batter, followed by two straight singles for one run and the second scored on a double play.
—THE REDS SCORED three more in the third against Blair when he gave up a leadoff single to Cozart and then walked three straight, forcing in a run. The next two runs came on back-to-back sacrifice flies by Adam Duvall and Eugenio Suarez and the Reds led, 6-2.
—THE BRAVES SCORED two in their third, aided by an error by first baseman Joey Votto that let in one run and a run-scoring double by Adonis Garcia. That cut the Reds lead to 6-5.
—THE BRAVES TOOK a 7-6 lead in the fifth when relief pitcher J.C. Ramirez gave up a single and a home run to Freddie Freeman.
—THE REDS SNEAKED back into the lead in the sixth, 8-7, on pinch-hitter Kyle Waldrop’s run-scoring single, his first major-league RBI, and the go-ahead run scored on a wild pitch by Ryan Weber.
—THE BRAVES TIED it in the eighth against relief pitcher Ross Ohlendorf. The first batter he faced, Adonis Garcia, homered into the left field seats, the 12th time this year that a Reds relief pitcher has given up a home run to the first batter he faced.
—THEN CAME THE bizarre ninth when hard-throwing Arodnys Vizcaino walked Eugenio Suarez to load the bases and walked Tyler Holt to force in the winning run.
Tony Cingrani came on for the bottom of the ninth and didn’t give up a home run to the first batter he faced. He gave up nothing, three quick outs for his seventh save.
Daniel Wright lasted only three innings as the Reds starter, giving up five runs (three earned), six hits and a walk. Aaron Blair lasted only five innings as Atlanta’s starter, giving up four runs, six hits and four walks.
The Reds made the most out of nine hits, aided and abetted by accepting eight walks and a wild pitch.
VOTTO WAS THE ONLY Reds hitter with more than one hit and he had two, one of them the excuse-me double that ignited the winning, uh, rally. Duvall drove in three runs with his two-run homer and a sacrifice fly.
The Reds bullpen was 50/50. J.C. Ramirez gave up two runs in two innings and Ohlendorf gave up the game-tying home run in the eighth.
But Blake Wood pitched two innings during which he gave up no runs and no hits, walked one and hit a batter. And Cingrani was dead, solid perfect.