By HAL McCOY
Sal Romano was provided with three runs in the top of the first inning Friday night before he had to throw his first pitch to the Miami Marlins.
It wasn’t enough.
The night turned into another walk-a-thon by a Cincinnati Reds rookie pitcher, followed by a bullpen meltdown that led to a 7-4 defeat.
And after the 3-0 jump start in the first inning, the moribund Reds offense didn’t score again.
IF ANYBODY IS STILL counting, that’s 11 losses in 13 games since the All-Star break for the Reds and a 0-and-5 start to a 10-game road trip.
Romano watched what happened to Robert Stephenson Thursday night when he walked seven in 4 1/3 innings. And then he did the same thing.
Romano walked six in only 3 2/3 innings and his wild throw for an error led to two unearned runs. He gave up only the two unearned run and two hits, but the six walks were his kryptonite.
Billy Hamilton opened the game against Miami left hander Vance Worley with a 3-and-2 walk. Hamilton stole second, his 44th theft and scored on Joey Votto’s single. Adam Duvall then drilled his 22nd home run and the Reds presented Romano with a 3-0 lead.
He immediately walked the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the first, but escaped by striking out both J.T. Realmuto and Derek Dietrich.
ROMANO GUARDED THAT 3-0 lead in the second and third, but disaster struck in the fourth after he gave up a leadoff double to Realmuto.
He walked two of the next three to fill the bases with one out. Pinch-hitter Tomas Telis grounded to the mound — an easy 1-2-3 inning-ending double play. Well, it should have been.
But Romano couldn’t throw a strike from 45 feet and his throw home went over catcher Tucker Barnhart’s head and a run scored. Drew Gordon hit a sacrifice fly and the Reds lead was reduced to 3-2.
The Marlins drew even in the sixth against Michael Lorenzen when he walked the first batter, Miguel Rojas. Pinch-hitter Ichiro Suzuki doubled Rojas to third and Rojas scored the tying run on Giancarlo Stanton’s ground ball.
LEFT HANDER WANDY PERALTA came on to pitch the seventh to protect the 3-3 tie and everything exploded. After he retired the first batter, he gave up three laser beams in a row — a home run by J.T. Realmuto and back-to-back doubles by Derek Dietrich and Tyler Moore to make it 5-3. Then pinch-hitter Mike Aviles pulled a two-run home run down the left field line and it was 7-3.
Realmuto’s home run was his 12th and three have come against the Reds in five games.
After collecting three runs and two hits in the first inning, the Reds gathered no runs and four through the eighth inning.
Scott Schebler led the ninth inning with an upper deck home run to right field off Junichi Tazawa. But Eugenio Suarez, Tucker Barnhart and pinch-hitter Patrick Kivlehan went down in order to continue Cincinnati’s two weeks of frustration.