By HAL McCOY
Mediocre pitching, sloppy baseball and a makeshift lineup is a Betty Crocker recipe for defeat. And the Cincinnati Reds did all three Monday night in Great American Ball Park.
It all added up to 6-3 defeat to the Miami Marlins in the first game of a four-game series.
The mediocre pitching, bordering on the bad, was furnished by starter Brandon Finnegan and relief pitcher Blake Wood.
Sloppy baseball was a defensive lapse by first baseman Joey Votto and Wood that led to a pair of runs.
The makeshift lineup? Brandon Phillips and his sore knee sat this one out and Tony Renda played second base. Shortstop Zack Cozart needed a day off and Ivan DeJesus Jr. played shortstop and batted second. Billy Hamilton left the game in the fifth inning after ramming the way and injuring a knee in the thirdinning. He was replaced by Tyler Holt.
That meant the Reds had Holt batting first and DeJesus batting second ahead of Votto.
FINNEGAN, ON-AGAIN-OFF-AGAIN all season long, was off again on Monday night. In 5 1/3 innings (97 pitches) he gave up four runs, seven hits three walks, struck out three and gave up two home runs.
Wood arrived in the eighth with the Reds trailing by just 4-3 and he retired the first two Marlins. Then he walked Chris Johson on a full count. Adieny Hechavarria beat an infield hit to shortstop. Wood walked pinch-hitter Derek Dietrick on another full count to fill the bases.
Dee Gordon then hit a high hopper to deep first base. Votto fielded it and Wood was late getting to first. Votto, instead of snapping off a hard overhand throw, tossed it underhanded and tossed it in a high arc. Gordon was safe and two runs crossed the plate.
THE MARLINS, PLAYING WITHOUT their best player, disabled Giancarlo Stanton, scored quickly when Gordon opened the game with a double and scored on Martin Prado’s single to right field. Hamilton saved Finnegan from further damage with another of his stupendous catches, snagging Marcel Osuna’s hard drive to the center field wall.
The Reds tied it in the second when Scott Schebler, 0 for 28, hit a two-out home run over the center field wall.
Hamilton hurt himself in the third inning when he ran full-bore into the wall trying to catch a ball hit by Prado. He banged his shoulder and his knee into the wall and the ball eluded him for a triple.
THE 1-1 TIE LASTED UNTIL the fourth when No. 7 hitter Chris Johnson hit a two-out opposite field home run into the Reds bullpen in right field for a 2-1 Marlins lead.
Miami added two more runs in the sixth. Osuna cleared the center field wall for a home run, the 26th hit off Finnegan this year. He then walked J.T. Realmuto on four pitches and with one out he gave up a run-scoring double to Johnson and that ended Finnegan’s night, leaving with a 4-1 deficit.
The Reds scored a run in the sixth when Schebler drew a bases loaded walk, but Tony Renda ended that really by striking out on three pitches to leave the bases loaded
They scored another in the seventh. Tucker Barnhart, owner of an 11-game hitting streak, led with a double and scored on Tyler Holt’s infield hit on which Hechavarria threw away, enabling Barnhart to score.
Down 4-3, the Reds had Holt on second with one out and he moved to third on a ground ball by DeJesus. The Marlins brought in left hander Mike Dunn to face Votto, who was 1 for 10 with five strikeouts for his career against Dunn. Now he is 1 for 11 after grounding out to first, leaving the Reds a run down.
WOOD CAME IN TO GIVE up the two runs in the eighth, too much for the Reds to overcome. They did put their first two runners on in the eighth, but Schebler struck out, Tony Renda grounded into a fielder’s choice and Barnhart grounded to short.
Finnegan fell to 7-and-9 with a 4.54 earned run average and the Marlins are now 21-8 against left handed starters this season.
Miami starter David Phelps put on a gold medal pitching performance in only his third start this season after 50 bullpen appearances. He held the Reds to two runs and four hits over 5 1/3 innings, striking out eight.
And the Reds shot off all their toes in this one by going 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position and stranding nine runners.
Before the game, the Reds optioned 0-and-7 pitcher Cody Reed to Class AAA Louisville and recalled position player Kyle Waldrop. Reed’s spot in the rotation comes up Friday against the Dodgers, but Reds manager Bryan Price wouldn’t reveal who would pitch that night. Most likely, Keyvius Sampson will come out of the bullpen to make that start. He replaced Reed in the second inning in Milwaukee Sunday and held the Brewers to one run over five innings.