By HAL McCOY
Just call them The Resilient Reds and be done with it.
After two late-inning confidence-crushing losses over the weekend to the Chicago Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds kept their recent swagger, but barely.
On Monday night they walked into Progressive Field, where they had lost 16 of their last 18 appearances, to face the Cleveland Indians, a team leading the American League Central by 9 ½ games.
And they were facing long-haired, long-legged Mike Clevinger, owner of a 7-and-3 record and a 3.11 earned run average.
So what did the Reds do? They took it to the Tribe, 7-5, with a basket full of timely hitting and some outstanding pitching by starter Anthony DeSclafani.
The Reds, though, had to survive another bullpen meltdown after taking a 7-1 lead into the ninth. The bullpen was abused by the Cubs Saturday and Sunday.
And there was another bullpen balloon-busting.
The Tribe scored four runs against Amir Garrett, Tanner Rainey and Raisel Iglesias and had the tying run at the plate. It ended shakily when Iglesias struck out Jose Ramirez to end it.
DeSclafani pushed his record to 4-and-1 since coming off the disabled list, holding the Indians to one run and five hits over seven innings with two walks and three strikeouts.
DeSclafani was never in trouble and the only run was a solo home run by former Reds No. 1 draft pick Yonder Alonso.
Of course, the Reds and DeSclafani are caught the Indians on a downward plane. Like the Reds, Cleveland lost its previous two games, back-to-back weekend losses at home to the Oakland A’s.
When Alonso hit his home run in the fourth inning, the Tribe had gone 17 straight scoreless innings.
Amir Garrett, much troubled lately out of the bullpen, replaced DeSclafani in the eighth and immediately gave up a leadoff double to Francisco Lindor. But facing the guts of the Tribe batting order, he retired Michael Brantley, Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion on three harmless pop-ups.
His misery resurfaced in the ninth when he walked Alonso on four pitches and gave up a two-run home run to Jason Kipnis.
That was the end of Garrett and Tanner Rainey emerged to give up two singles around an out. So with two on and one out, closer Raisel Iglesias was called upon to clean it up. He gave up a run-scoring double and a sacrifice fly before whiffing the ultra-dangerous Ramirez.
Offensively, the Reds put their leadoff hitters on base in seven of the game’s nine innings. Clevinger twice walked the leadoff hitter and it led to the Reds first three runs.
He walked Eugenio Suarez to open the second and he came around on Tucker Barnhart’s double.
He walked Scooter Gennett to open the fourth and he scored on Jesse Winker’s double and Winker scored on Tucker Barnhart’s single for his second RBI of the night and a 3-0 lead.
Alonso’s home run came in the fourth, cutting Cincinnati’s lead to 3-1.
Clevinger struck out the first two in the fifth before Joey Votto’s launched a home run, only his third since mid-May to make it 4-1.
Resurgent Billy Hamilton opened the sixth with a single and he, of course, stole second and moved to third on catcher Yan Gomes’ throwing error. From there he trotted home on Scott Schebler’s single.
With the designated hitter employed in the American League ball park, it afforded Reds manager Jim Riggleman to employ all four of his outfielders and he used Jesse Winker as his DH.
Former starter Josh Tomlin, demoted to the bullpen, started the ninth and gave up another single to Hamilton and a two-run home run to Schebler, his fourth hit of the game.
Schebler finished with four hits and three RBI and his ninth-inning home run proved to be extremely large when the Tribe scored four in the bottom of he ninth. Hamilton had two hits and scored two runs, Winker had two hits, scored a run and drove one in. Only Duvall among the outfielders failed to produce any offense.