By HAL McCOY
The up-and-down Cincinnati Reds are down right now. Way down, after the San Francisco applied an 8-3 beating Sunday afternoon.
They beat the Giants Thursday night, their fourth straight win over the Giants this season, and were in first place in the National League Central at 19-15.
Then came Friday, Saturday and Sunday and three straight losses to the Giants, who were 12-24 and in last place in the National League Central after Thursday’s loss.
NOW THE REDS ARE 19-18 and in third place, 2 ½ games behind the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals.
Losing three of four to the Giants came a week after they outscored the Giants 31-5 in a three-game sweep at Great American Ball Park.
Two things came into play in San Francisco. The scene shifted from Great American Small Park, where fly balls die in the stands for home runs, to AT&T Park with an outfield as big as all outdoors, where fly balls die in outfielder’s gloves.
THOSE 31 RUNS IN 24 innings in GABP turned into nine runs in 36 innings at AT&T.
And when the Reds mauled the Giants in Cincinnati the Giants were without two of their best hitters, center fielder and leadoff hitter Denard Span and shortstop Brandon Crawford. Both came off the DL for this series.
While Crawford was relatively silent on offense but devastating on defense, Span was a major thorn in the posterior. In the four games Span collected nine hits that included two home runs and a double, scored four and drove in three.
And it was Span who started Sunday’s mayhem. He led the bottom of the first with a hard shot to right center. Right fielder Scott Schebler called off center fielder Billy Hamilton, the guy who should have made the catch. But Schebler tried to catch it and dropped it.
That opened the gates for a four-run first inning against Reds starter Tim Adleman. After the error, Adleman gave up four runs, three hits and two walks. He left after the first inning with a sore neck.
Barrett Astin took over in the second and gave up three more runs that included a leadoff triple by Span and a two-run single by Crawford.
THE BENEFICIARY OF THE carnage was San Francisco starter Jeff Samardzija, who came into the game with a 0-and-5 record and a 5.44 earned run average.
And he entered the game with the second lowest run support for any starter in the National League. The Giants took care of that quickly with those seven runs in the first two innings.
The Red offense was deeply handicapped by a dearth of production by the middle of the order. Neither cleanup hitter Adam Duvall nor No. 5 hitter Eugenio Suarez drove in a run during the four-game series. Suarez was 3 for 18 and Duvall was 3 for 16.
Shortstop Zack Cozart missed his second straight game with a sore wrist.
After a much-needed day off Monday, the Reds open a three-game series against the struggling Chicago Cubs, who lost two of three over the weekend to the Cardinals and are one game under .500 at 18-and-19. They are in fourth place, one game behind the Reds.
There is the possibility that Amir Garrett could return from Class AAA Louisville to face the Cubs Friday. And Lisalverto Bonilla, who pitched a complete game in Saturday’s 3-1 loss, could face the Colorado Rockies in Great American Ball Park Friday.