CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Reds found their closer Monday afternoon in the oddest of places — in their outfield.
With an outrageous game totally out of hand, manager Bryan Price brought outfielder Holt into the ninth inning to finish a game the Reds lost, 18-9.
Maybe it was because the Los Angeles Dodgers were totally exhausted from swinging hefty bats or from running the bases, or maybe the Dodgers wanted to get to the airport and get out of town and just went through the motions in the ninth.
Whatever it was, Holt threw five pitches and retired all three batters he faced. Four of the pitches were strikes.
WHAT A CONTRAST TO WHAT preceded him from a bullpen that had righted itself since the All-Star break. The Dodgers totaling wronged them.
The Dodgers hit seven home runs, three by Adrian Gonzalez, who drove in eight runs, a career high and extended his hitting streak to 15 games.
YES, IT WAS IN GREAT American Small Park and the ball carries on hot days. And maybe the wind was blowing out. But the Reds didn’t hit any.
Before the long, long afternoon ended, the endless parade of pitchers to the mound for both team threw 376 pitches — 203 by the Reds and 173 by the Dodgers.
HOMER BAILEY STARTED THE messy day and before he retired a batter the Dodgers led, 3-0. Chase Utley hit Bailey’s first pitch for a single and Corey Seager hit his second pitch for a single. Gonzalez then cracked his first home run to make it 3-0.
And it only got worse. Bailey went 2 1/3 innings and gave up six runs and nine hits.
Amazingly, the Reds came back to close it to within 6-5 in the third inning.
Then the Reds bullpen did its dirty deed, the messiest provided by Josh Smith in the fifth inning. He gave up five runs in the fourth, including three home runs, another by Gonzalez. That pushed the Dodgers ahead by 11-5 and the track meet was on.
BEFORE THE ODOR SUBSIDED, the Reds bullpen had given up 12 runs, 12 hits and six home runs. Gonzalez’s last two home runs came as the first batter to face Jumbo Diaz and the first batter to face Blake Wood. The number of times a Reds relief pitcher has given up a home run to the first batter he faced is now at 25.
And when it ended, broadcaster Marty Brennaman said, “I don’t know what you can say about this game, other than that’s about as big a butt-whipping of a bullpen as I’ve ever seen.”
And color commentator Jeff Brantley added, “All you can say is it’s over.”
AND SO MUCH FOR THE euphoria surrounding the Reds after they won the first two games of the series, 9-2 and 11-1, to splice together a five-game winning streak. The Dodgers took the last two, 4-0 and 18-9.
During Smith’s fifth inning, he gave up back-to-back home runs to rookies Andrew Toles and Rob Segedin. It was the first career home runs for both. Two rookies hitting back-to-back homers for their first career homers has only been done over the last 30 years three times. Amazingly, another of the three was done this year — New York Yankees rookies Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge, just nine days ago.
It was the fourth time in the short life of Great American Small Park that seven home runs were hit, but it was the first time a visiting team did it.
And it tied a Reds record for most home runs given up in a game and the most recent was this May in homer-friendly Coors Field when they gave up seven to the Colorado Rockies.
Seager’s 401-foot home run was his 22nd, tying a record for Dodgers shortstops, set in 1930 by Glenn Wright. Seager hit .692 in the four-game series with five RBI.
For all it mattered, Cincinnati’s Joey Votto was 3 for 6 with four RBI and missed the cycle when he didn’t hit a home run (he had a single, double and triple), raising his batting average to .309. And scorching-hot Jose Peraza had four hits in his six at bats and scored three runs and is hitting .301.
But if they gave game balls the way they do in football, the only game ball f the Reds woul go to Tyler Holt for applying a small band-aid to a gaping wound.