By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — It was a night that resembled Men against Boys.
It was a night of a first place team puffing its chest against a last place team.
It was the Los Angeles Dodgers pounding the Cincinnati Reds, 6-0, and it wasn’t that close on a warm night in Great American Ball Park.
The Dodgers blasted four home runs and the Reds were shut down on three singles.
This one was over nearly before it began. The Dodgers ripped into Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani for a two-run home run by Corey Seager in the second and back-to-back home runs in the third by Joc Pederson and Max Muncy. DeSclafani only survived four innings and even the outs he recorded sounded as if they were shot from a 12-gauge.
“Nothing worked and it was pretty embarrassing to say the least,” said DeSclafani. “I just have to be better. I was trying to find something and I actually got lucky because a lot of their line drives were right at guys. I wasn’t fooling anybody.”
Meanwhile, 39-year-old left hander Rich Hill, King of the Hill on this night, mowed the Reds down as if he was driving a tractor. For the first three innings, one time through the batting order, the Reds didn’t get a ball out of the infield and Hill struck out six of the nine.
They finally broke through for a couple of hits on back-to-back one-out singles in the fourth by Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez. But Hill struck out Yasiel Puig and Jose Iglesias.
Puig, the ex-Dodger, was obviously overpumped to face the team that traded him. In his first two at bats he struck out on three pitches both times. He completed the hat trick in his third at bat when former Reds bullpenner Dylan Floro struck him out in the seventh.
Cody Reed, recalled earlier in the day from Class AAA Louisville, replaced DeSclafani in the fifth and gave up a run in the sixth on a strikeout-wild pitch, a ground ball and a single by Kike Hernandez, who had struck out his previous two at bats.
The fourth home run of the night came off the bat of Cody Bellinger of Zach Duke in the eighth, his 16th to go with a double that placed his batting average at .404.
Hill, making his fourth start of the season and grunting so loud on each pitch he could be heard in the upper deck even though his fastball topped out at 91 miles an hour, was 0-and-1 with a 4.20 earned run average and was massaged, 6-0, by the Washington Nationals in his previous start.
Hill started the season on the injured list and missed most of the first month, so when his pitch count reached 84 after six innings his night was finished. After giving up the back-to-back singles he retired the final eight Reds he faced.
And what a night for King of the Hill — six innings, no runs, two hits, no walks, 10 strikeouts.
“Hill is smart, knows how to pitch,” said Reds manager David Bell. “When you have a fastball like that, it is low effort and the ball just jumps out of his hand. It is not max effort and it gives him longevity. His fastball is in the low 90’s, but it plays up. It looks like upper 90’s from the side because it has real life.”
Of his own pitcher, DeSclafani, Bell said, “It is going to happen at times. He’ll get right back on track his next time out.”
And the scale of difficulty tips much higher the next two days. On Saturday the Reds face Walker Buehler, who is 4-and-0. On Sunday the Reds face a pitcher with glossier numbers than even Luis Castillo — Hyun-Jin Ryu, 5-and-1 with a 1.72 earned run average. The Reds will send Tyler Mahle (0-5, 3.97) against Buehler and Tanner Roark (3-2, 3.50) against Ryu.