By HAL McCOY
The Cincinati Reds didn’t have a no-hitter thrown at them Wednesday night in the Oakland Coliseum. It only seemed that way.
They scored four runs on five hits in the second inning against the Oakland A’s. Then nothing more.
They went the next 11 innings without scoring and collecting a measly three hits and lost in 13 innings, 5-4.
After Jared Hughes pitched three scoreless innings, only the third time in his career he pitched three innings, Robert Stephenson started the 13th.
He faced only one batter. Stephen Piscotty lofted a home run that narrowly cleared the left field wall, just enough to end the marathon. After throwing three sliders to get to a 2-and-1 count, Stephenson threw a fastball and Piscotty knocked it into next week.
Reds starter Sonny Gray, pitching for the first time in Oakland, where he once pitched successfully for the A’s, was over-amped.
His first six pitches of the game were balls, a walk to Marcus Semien and a 2-and-0 count to Jurickson Profar.
He next pitch ended up in the right field seats, a two-run home run. Profar also homered Tuesday night and drove in both runs in the 2-0 no-hitter pitched by Mike Fiers.
The Reds, though, came alive in the second, ever so briefly. They sent 10 batters to the plate, an inning that started with Oakland pitcher Brett Anderson walking both Yasiel Puig and Jose Iglesias. Kyle Farmer doubled for a run and the tying run scored on Curt Casali’s ground ball.
Jose Peraza singled to make it 3-2, Josh VanMeter singled for his first major league hit and Nick Senzel singled to make it 4-2.
From that point they could have put away the bats and taken a shower.
Gray couldn’t enjoy the lead. He had Semien 0-and-2 to lead off the fifth and walked him. It led to two runs. With one out, Matt Chapman beat the shift with a single. Kendrys Morales singled to right field to fill the bases.
Amir Garrett replaced Gray and struck out Matt Olson for the second out. With the Reds employing a heavy shift to the left, Piscotty poked a weak ground ball that rolled through the right side for a run and a second run scored on second baseman Farmer’s throwing error after he chased down the slow roller in short right field.
That tied it, 4-4, a black mark against analytics and the shifts. And there was no more scoring until Piscotty’s home run.
The Reds had two on with no outs in the seventh but Eugenio Suarez struck out and Yasiel Puig hit into a double play.
And they had two on with one out in the 11th but VanMeter flied to right and Suarez struck out.
Gray survived only 4 1/3 innings and gave up four runs, six hits, walked five and struck out three. Then the bullpen was splendid…until Stephenson.
Michael Lorenzen pitched two innings and gave up one hit and struck out four. David Hernandez pitched an inning and escaped damage despite two walks and Hughes pitched three scoreless, giving up two hits.
Any problems the Reds encountered were obliterated by three double plays and some eye-popping defense by shortstop Jose Iglesias
Nick Senzel had two hits and Jose Peraza, who started the game in left field, had two hits but no other Cincinnati batsman had more than one over the 13 futile innings. Joey Votto was 0 for 5 with a walk. Puig was 0 for 5, Iglesias was 0 for 5 with a walk.
The game lasted 3 hours and 58 minutes and after quick naps the teams return Thursday afternoon for the final game of the series.
Starter Tanner Roark needs to go deep into this game after the bullpen was used up Wednesday.