By HAL McCOY
Walker Buehler, whose Twitter handle is Buehler’sDayOff@Buehler’sDayOff, did not take a day off Wednesday afternoon in Dodger Stadium.
But the Cincinnati Reds’ offense did take a day off, another in a long string of days off.
For six innings, Buehler, a Lexington, Ky., native, held the Reds to no runs and one hit, the impetus to a 3-2 Dodgers victory.
As good as Buehler was, Cincinnati starter Sonny Gray was better. He retired the first 10 Dodgers and still had a one-hitter entering the sixth inning.
He hadn’t walked a batter, but walked No. 8 hitter Austin Barnes on four pitches to open the inning. Then another of the ever-mounting defensive blunders by the Reds surfaced.
With pitcher Buehler at the plate to bunt, first baseman Joey Votto charged toward the plate before the pitch was thrown. That gave Barnes a running start and he easily stole second.
Gray struck out Buehler and the always-dangerous Joc Pederson (for the third straight time). With two outs and first base open in a 0-0 game, the Reds decided to walk the left handed Cody Bellinger intentionally in a 0-0 game.
That brought up right handed A.J. Pollock, who had been The Lost Soul in the batter’s box the entire series. But on a 1-and-0 pitch, Gray hung a breaking pitch and Pollock hung it into the left field pavilion, a 409-foot three-run home run and a 3-0 LA lead.
It was the 32nd straight game in which the Dodgers have homered at home, tying the major league record set by the Colorado Rockies and the Blake Street Bombers in 1999.
Gray left after six innings, giving up only two hits and striking out nine. But those two walks (one intentional) and the Pollock poke hung a third loss on Gray (0-3), despite a 2.79 earned run average.
The Reds finally raised a slight commotion against Buehler in the seventh. Yasiel Puig led the inning with a single, Cincinnati’s second hit. With one out, Matt Kemp singled, the third and final hit for the Reds on this day.
LA catcher Austin Barnes was charged with a passed ball, moving runners to third and second. Puig scored on a ground ball by pinch-hitter Eugenio Suarez and pinch-hitter Tucker Barnes grounded out to leave it 3-1.
LA Closer Kenley Jansen arrived in the ninth and Cincinnati’s first batter, Yasiel Puig popped to the shortstop. But Kike Hernandez lost it in the sun and dropped it, putting Puig on first.
He stole second and took third on a throwing error as Jesse Winker struck out. Matt Kemp flied to left as Puig scored, cutting LA’s lead to 3-2. Eugenio Suarez popped out on the first pitch to end it, giving Jansen his fifth save in five chances to go along with a win in his eight appearances this year.
While the Reds had only three hits, the Dodgers also had only three hits, but Pollock’s home run was timely and deadly.
Red manager David Bell did get an early day off. He was not happy with home plate umpire Nick Mahrley’s strike zone. After Mahrley called Curt Casali out on strikes in the fifth inning, Bell was chirping from the dugout and eventually Mahrley ejected him, Bell’s second ejection this season.
So it was a three-game sweep by the Dodgers, extracting a couple pounds of revenge flesh from the Reds, who swept them four games in Dodger Stadium last year. And the Reds won six of seven from LA last season.
The Reds, 5-and-12, lug a four-game losing streak into San Diego for the start Thursday of a four-game series in Petco Park.