By HAL McCOY
It appeared the Cincinnati Reds had the Atlanta Braves right where they wanted them Monday night when the game went into extra innings.
Although the Braves are the surprise first-place team in the National League East, they were 1-and-7 in extra-inning games.
Alas, it was not to be. With one swing of rookie Ozzie Albies’ bat in the bottom of the 11th, the Reds quest for an eighth straight win went poof into the night.
Albies led the 11th and the first pitch thrown by Reds relief pitcher Dylan Floro ended up in the right field seats.
Since there were 15 walks issued in the game, it was apropos that this one ended with a walk-off home run.
The Reds had only six hits, only one over the last four innings. Nevertheless, they frittered away a scoring opportunity in the 10th when Tucker Barnhart opened with a single to right. Joey Votto walked (what else?) for the third time in the game, putting runners on second and first with no outs.
That brought up Scooter Gennett, the league’s leading hitter. But manager Jim Riggleman opted to have Gennett put down a sacrifice bunt. While it worked in the short run, it didn’t work in the long run.
His successful bunt put runners on third and second with one out. Needing only a sacrifice fly or a well-placed ground ball, Alas for the Reds, Jesse Winker popped out to the infield and Albies made a above-the-board backhanded stop on Jose Peraza’s ground ball to end the inning.
Reds starter Tyler Mahle didn’t get off to a good start. He walked Ender Inciarte on four pitches to open the bottom of the first. Then Albies, a sharp thorn in the Reds’ sides, doubled to right field. Inciarte scored and right fielder Scott Schebler missed the cutoff man and Albies took third.
That enabled him to score on Kurt Suzuki’s sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
The Reds didn’t have a hit through 4 2/3 innings, although Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz walked four.
Scott Schebler ended the no-hit bid with a long distance home run into the Chop House restaurant above the right field seats to cut Atlanta’s lead to 2-1.
The Braves retrieved that run in the bottom of the fifth, although it could have been a whole lot worse. The Braves loaded the bases with no outs, but the only run Mahle gave up scored on a double play and it was 3-1.
The Reds filled the bases with no outs in the sixth on three straight singles by Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez.
Jesse Winker walked to force in a run and a second run scored on pinch-hitter Adam Duvall’s ground ball to tie it, 3-3.
The Reds barged ahead, 4-3, in the seventh on Schebler’s double, Barnhart’s sacrifice bunt and Votto’s ground ball.
Votto, though, gave the run back with an error in the bottom of the seventh, an unearned run. Votto misplayed Freddie Freeman’s hard ground ball, a two-base error.
With two outs, Danny Santana doubled to right field to tie it, 4-4. And the Braves had runners on third and second when David Hernandez captured the last out on a line drive to right field.
And the game, which was delayed by rain for an hour-and-a-half before it began, droned on into extra innings before Albie’s dramatic finishing blast.
Other than the usually reliable Floro, the Reds, as usual, received solid relief pitching from Kyle Crockett, Hernandez and Jared Hughes.
Mahle pitched five innings and gave up three runs and five hits, walking three and striking out four.
Along with the winning streak, Billy Hamilton’s seven-game hitting streak came to an end and Jose Peraza’s 23 straight games of getting on base came to a conclusion.