By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — After two veteran starting pitchers were Les Miserables on Friday and Saturday, the Los Angeles Dodgers sent a just-turned-20 kid out to do a man’s job.
And he did it with flying Dodger blue colors Sunday afternoon in Great American Ball Park. Mexican-born Julio Urias, rated the No. 1 left handed prospect in pro ball by MLB.com, pitched six scoreless innings and the Dodgers pecked away at Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani for a 4-0 victory.
Urias was discovered and signed by legendary Dodgers scout Mike Brito, now 82, who used to sit behind home plate at Dodger Stadium wearing a white Panama hat and holding a long Cuban cigar in one hand and a radar gun in the other. His other noteworthy left handed Mexican-born pitcher was Fernando Valenzuela.
And Urias pitched like Valenzuela, a winner of 173 major league games during a 17-year career. Urias gave up no runs, six singles, didn’t walk a batter and struck out six over his six innings.
ON FRIDAY, THE REDS SCORED four runs off Bud Norris in the first inning en route to a 9-2 victory. On Saturday the Reds scored three runs off Brett Anderson in the first inning en route to an 11-1 victory.
But Urias shut off the faucet and twisted the handle tight. And this came when he brought a 3-and-2 record and a 4.41 earned run average into the game. Some scouts who saw him earlier said, “He hasn’t been very good.”
THAT WAS MANAGER BRYAN Price’s opinion, too, until he saw Urias on the mound.
“He was good and, I mean, he was better than I expected,” said Price. “I’ve seen him on TV and on video a few times. He got his off-speed stuff and breaking balls over early in the at-bats. He really did a nice job because we stacked a right handed lineup against him. He did a nice job of getting his fastball and slider inside on right handed hitters. He was tough on us and controled the running game with his move.”
The Reds had nine hits, three by Eugenio Suarez, but Price said, “We just didn’t square up many baseballs today. We’ve had a nice prodigious run for a good portion of this homestand, but today we weren’t able to string together a lot of hits and we didn’t have a lot of well-hit baseballs.”
ON SATURDAY, LA MANAGER Dave Roberts bench four regulars, including second baseman Chase Utley and shortstop Corery Seager. They both played Sunday and they both tormented Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani.
Utley, in fact, led the game by driving DeSclafani’s fourth pitch into the right field seats for a home run, giving the Dodgers their first lead in the series in 19 innings.
Utley struck again in the third with a run-scoring single and Seager drove Utley home with another single to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.
Yasmani Grandal, a Reds No. 1 draft pick and another of the players Roberts benched Saturday, was in the middle of a one-run Dodgers rally in the sixth. After Adrian Gonzalez singled, Grandal doubled off the top of left fielder Adam Duvall’s glove against the wall for a double that sent Gonzalez to third. He scored on Joc Pederson’s long sacrifice fly to right to make it 4-0.
DESCLAFANI SUFFERED HIS SECOND loss (7-and-2) after giving up four runs, eight hits, a walk and striking out six during his 97-pitch afternoon of seven innings.
“Utley got that home run in the first and I’d sure like to have that pitch back,” said DeSclafani, aware that there are no do-overs in baseball. “In the third (two runs) I fell behind guys and and didn’t make pitches to get out of the inning.
“I was happy to get through seven and keep the bullpen out of it,” he added. “Today was a grind and I just had to compete. I don’t want to say I didn’t have my best stuff. I felt I didn’t have my slider early in the game to lefties, so I didn’t make pitches when I had to.
“When I needed a quality pitch they came back over the plate and obviously good teams are going to get hits off that. You have to make good quality pitches with runners in scoring position and I just didn’t do that,” he said.
THE REDS MISSED AN EARLY chance against Urias when Jose Peraza must have forgotten the scouting report, or didn’t read it. Peraza banged a one-out single in the bottom of the first. Urias promptly picked him off first, his fifth pickoff in only 43 big-league innings. It hurt so bad because Brandon Phillips singled right behind Peraza.
Urias ended the first by retiring Adam Duvall and went on a steady high-step through the Reds lineup, retiring 10 straight until Eugenio Suarez singled to open the fifth. He was quickly erased, though, when Ivan DeJesus Jr., hit into a double play and Urias rolled on.
Billy Hamilton and Brandon Phillips both singled in the sixth but Urias escaped again by getting Duvall to pop out to second to end the inning and end Urias’s day after 96 pitches.
The Reds threatened relief pitcher Joe Blanton in the seventh. Eugenio Suarez doubled to lead the inning and Tucker Barnhart drew a two-out walk. At this point Joey Votto’s day off ended. He was sent up to pinch-hit and was called out on strikes.