By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — Just 24 hours after scoring 14 runs against the New York Mets on Tuesday night, the enigmatic Cincinnati Reds scored 14 fewer runs on Wednesday.
That’s zero, zip, zilch. No runs. And they lost, 2-0.
Not only that, after getting 15 hits Tuesday, they had one lonely hit through eight innings, a one-out double by Joey Votto in the fourth inning.
And the guy who put the plug into the Reds offense was Mets rookie pitcher Rafael Montero, he of the 2-and-9 record and 5.44 earned run average when the night began.
Meanwhile, Reds starter Homer Bailey gave up two runs and three hits — all doubles — in the first inning and then hardly anything more.
After falling behind, 2-0, in the first, he gave up no runs and one hit over the next five innings. But when he left it was still 2-0. And it stayed 2-0.
Bailey pitched six innings and gave up only four hits, a walk and a hit batter. But his sin was giving up three doubles in the first inning — a lead-off jolt by Jose Reyes and back-to-back two-out doubles by Wilmer Flores and Kevin Plawecki that each scored a run.
“You hate to see individuals rack up losses, especially when they pitch good ball games like Bailey did,” said manager Bryan Price. “But it is a strange game — we all know, we’ve been around it a long time.
“You score 14 one day and get 15 hits and you come back the next day and get one hit through eight against a rookie who has an ERA in the fives.
“And he earned it,” Price said of Montero. “We didn’t do him any favors. He worked down, he worked ahead, he threw strikes, threw a good change-up and put a lot of balls in play quickly, which allowed him to get into the ninth inning.”
Montero took his one-hitter into the ninth with 104 pitches. And he got a quick first out, the 12th batter in a row he retired. But on a 2-and-2 pitch Phillip Ervin singled and on the next pitch Zack Cozart doubled to left.
Joey Votto was walked intentionally to fill the bases and finally Montero was finished, replaced by closer A.J. Ramos.
So with the bases loaded and one out and a two-run lead, Ramos struck out Adam Duvall on three pitches. Scooter Gennett worked the count to 3-and-2, fouled off two pitches, then went down swinging to end the game.
Price believes the pitch of the game was a 0-and-2 pitch Bailey made to Reyes, the game’s first batter.
“Bailey jumped ahead 0-and-2 and then threw a curve ball and it was a strike,” said Price. “It was a decent pitch, but not of a two-strike quality and that got the ball rolling.”
Reyes doubled and with two outs Wilmer Flores doubled to make it 1-0 and Kevin Plawecki doubled to make it 2-0,
“After that Bailey managed the strike zone, had the full complement of pitches and made good pitches for the next five innings,” said Price.
Bailey left his previous start with stiffness in the back of his shoulder and although he said he could have pitched on his regular turn Sunday Price gave him two extra days of rest.
Price removed him at only 73 pitches and said, “I don’t know so much that he was out of gas, I thought his stuff from the fifth to the sixth took a tick down. He didn’t have his electric stuff today and I thought it was just better to get him out of there then. It was a really nice start during which he only made a couple of early mistakes that cost him a couple of runs.”
After Bailey departed, Tim Adleman finished the final three innings gloriously — no runs, one hit, no walks, two strikeouts.
And what did Bailey think about his night?
“I wasn’t tired but I was heading through their batting order a third time and with my spot coming up in the batting order it was better to have somebody pinch-hit and hopefully get something going.
Bailey’s velocity was 90 to 91 for the most part on his fast ball and he touched 92 a few times, down from his normal 94 to 95. Price mentioned it and added that Bailey pitched through it with command and control and stuff.
Bailey, though, was not pleased to hear about diminished velocity.
“When my velocity is there and I get my can kicked nobody every talks about my velocity was there,” he said. “Then when it is not there and I actually pitch a decent game then you tell me that it’s not there. So which one do you want?
“Sometimes you just have to pitch with what you’ve got,” he added. “We’re late in the season and I came out of the last game with a strain. You kind of feel things out when you’ve come out of a previous start. I didn’t want to go out there start running at red line too early. You just don’t know. It is hard to predict, so you pitch with what you’ve got.”
Asked what the difference was between the first inning and the final five innings, Bailey said quickly, “I made ‘em hit ‘em where people were.”
And for eight innings New York’s Montero made the Reds hit the ball where people were — until the ninth. But Ramos saved the day.