By HAL McCOY
Despite the weather, it isn’t close to Christmas, but the Cincinnati Reds suffered another Silent Night in Philadelphia.
There was no love in the City of Brotherly Love by the Philadelphia Phillies to the Reds as the Phillies completed a three-game sweep Wednesday night in Citizens Bank Park.
It was one bizarre ball game, a game that they lost, 4-3, in 12 innings.
It ended on a one-out sacrifice fly by Scott Kingery, a drive to right field when the Reds employed a five-man infield, with center fielder Billy Hamilton joining the regular four infielders, playing near second base.
The inning began with a routine ground ball by Pedro Florimon to second baseman Scooter Gennett. Using his unorthodox side-arm motion, Gennett air-mailed his throw over first baseman Joey Votto’s head. Florimon ended up at second base.
J.P. Crawford bunted the runner to third base and the wheels began clicking in Reds manager Bryan Price’s head. He had pitcher Austin Brice intentionally walk Cesar Hernandez to set up a possible inning-ending double play.
Then he brought Hamilton into the infield, but Brice couldn’t coax a ground ball out of KInegery. His fly ball to right ended it, the Reds ninth loss in 11 games.
In an attempt to stop the bleeding in this early-season mess, Price ran out of position players after nine innings.
That meant pitcher Raisel Iglesias had to bat in the 10th inning after pitching two perfect innings with four strikeouts. He struck out and then was replaced in the bottom of the 10th on the mound by Wandy Peralta.
The same thing happened in the 12th inning. Pitcher Kevin Quackenbush was scheduled to bat with two outs and nobody on. Price sent pitcher Tyler Mahle to pinch-hit.
Amazingly, Philadelphia manager Gabe Kapler decided to switch pitchers, bringing in a relief pitcher to face a pitcher pinch-hitting. It worked for Kapler when Yacksel Rios struck out Mahle.
The game was started by Luis Castillo and he was very good — except for the two home runs he gave up that put three runs on his ledger. He pitched six innings and gave up three runs, five hits, walked none and struck out four.
Castillo retired the first two Phillies in the second inning. He gave up a solid single to right by opposing pitcher Nick Pivetta, batting eighth. Then ninth-place batter Crawford, 2 for 26 for the season, ripped an upper deck home run to right field for a 2-0 lead.
The Reds tied it, 2-2, in the fourth on a double by Jose Peralta, his first extra base hit this season, a single by Joey Votto for a run, a single by Scooter Gennett and an RBI ground ball out by Phillip Ervin.
The Phillies took a 3-2 lead in the fifth when Cesar Hernandez cracked a two-out home run, also into the right field upper deck.
Peraza led the sixth with a single and stole second. Votto singled to left and Peraza tried to score from second and Crawford threw him out at home plate.
The Reds tied it in the ninth, but could have taken the lead. Gennett began the inning by hitting one off the top of the wall, two inches from a home run, and ended up with a double.
Devin Mesoraco singled Gennett to third and he scored on Ervin’s single to center field, tying it 3-3. Strangely, Price sent up Tucker Barnhart to pinch-hit for Phil Gosselin. To bunt? Couldn’t Gosselin bunt, saving Barnhart.
Barnhart did get the bunt down, putting runners on third and second with one out and a 3-3 tie. But Philadelphia closer Hector Neris struck out both Cliff Pennington and Billy Hamilton.
Joey Votto singled with two outs in the 10th and Gennett drove one 409 feet to center field, his second attempt at a home run. This time center fielder Odubel Herrera went above the wall, stuck his glove over the fence and brought the ball back in for the third out instead of a two-run home run that would have given the Reds a 5-3 lead.
Peralta walked three batters in Philadelphia’s 10th inning, but picked one off base to save it. Still, it took Jared Hughes to come in with two on and two outs to strike out Kingery.
Ervin walked with one out in the bottom of the 12th, but he was caught trying to steal second. Barnhart bunted up the third base line against the shift for a hit, but Pennington struck out.
So the Reds, 2-and-9 on the season, lost six of seven on the trip to Pennsylvania — losing three of four in Pittsburgh and all three in Philadelphia.
They return home Thursday night to begin a four-game series against the struggling St. Louis Cardinals before heading back on the road.