By HAL McCOY
For five innings it looked as if Homer Bailey was cruising toward his third no-hitter.
The cruise, though, ended in a train wreck for the Cincinnati Reds, who eventually lost to the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-1, Tuesday night in Citizens Bank Park.
For five innings, the Phillies didn’t have a hit against Bailey and only two baserunners, one on a hit-by-pitch and the other on a throwing error by new third baseman Alex Blandino on the first play he had in the major leagues.
And the Reds gave Bailey a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning on a two-out walk to Billy Hamilton, a stolen base, and a single by Jesse Winker.
That Winker even batted was a curious decision, one of several curious decisions or non-decisions by both managers. With two outs and Hamilton on second and first base open, Philadelphia manager Gabe Kapler permitted Aaron Nola to pitch to the left handed Winker, who is swinging a solid bat. He could have walked Winker and pitched to the right handed Jose Peraza, struggling so far this season.
And Winker made him pay.
That was all they were going to get against Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola, a 24-year-old ace-to-be out of LSU.
As it turned out, Nola was even better than Bailey — eight innings, one run, three hits, three walks, six strikeouts. He retired the final 10 batters.
After five solid innings, Bailey was running on empty in the sixth and went to 3-and-2 counts on all five hitters he faced.
He struck out pitcher Nola on a 3-and-2 pitch, but Cesar Hernandez broke up the no-hitter with a solid full-count single to right. Bailey struck out Carlos Santana on 3-and-2 for the second out, but Odubel Herrera ripped a 3-and-2 double up the right center gap to tie it, 1-1.
Jared Hughes took over in the seventh inning and gave up a leadoff double to Nick Williams. Then, with two outs and Williams still on second, Reds manager Bryan Price elected to pitch to No. 8 hitter J. P. Crawford with pitcher Nola on deck.
Even though Crawford was 1 for 25 (.040) for the season, it made sense to walk him and pitch to Nola. Crawford drilled a single to right, scoring Williams to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead.
Then came the eighth and Price decided to put rookie Tanner Rainey into a 2-1 game for his major league debut, a kid that was just called up from Triple-A Louisville.
Rainey walked his second batter and ball four crashed against the backstop. Herrera doubled to right center, putting runners on second and third with one out.
Rainey struck out rookie sensation Rhys Hoskins for the second out. Price decided to intentionally walk Williams to fill the bases, applying severe pressure on Rainey.
And the worst that could happen did happen. Scott Kingery crushed a grand slam home run, pushing the 2-1 lead to 6-1.
So it was the eighth loss in the first 10 games for the Reds and amazingly, they’ve lost 33 of their last 50 games in Philly’s Citizens Bank Park. And after losing, 6-5, Monday in the first game of the three-game series, the Reds are 2-13-2 in their last 17 series in Philadelphia.
Hoby Milner pitched the ninth for the Phillies and went 1-2-3, striking out both Scooter Gennett and Adam Duvall on called third strikes to end the game — the last 13 Reds going down in order.
The Reds only hits were singles by Gennett, Peraza and Winker. Joey Votto was 0 for 4 and does not have an extra base hit and only one walk in his first 10 games.