By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Reds offense was as boring Sunday afternoon as the Plain Jane 1912 throwback uniforms they wore.
The uniforms were blank on the front with nothing identifiable but a red wishbone ‘C’ on both sleeves.
Perhaps the Reds preferred to go incognito on this day against the Los Angeles Dodgers and pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu as they took an 8-3 beating with a raggedy-ann performance.
The Korean-born Ryu, a left hander nicknamed The Monster (he is 6-foot-3, 255 pounds), muzzled the Reds on no runs and five hits over seven innings, lifting his record to 6-and-1 and dipping his earned run average to 1.52.
All three games of the series nearly were shutouts, 6-0 by the Dodgers Friday, 4-0 by the Reds Saturday and almost 8-0 by the Dodgers on Sunday. The Reds scored three runs with two outs and nobody on in the ninth, a two-run home run by Jose Peraza and a pinch-hit home run by Derek Dietrich.
Fortunately for the Reds, their season series with the Dodgers is over after they lost five of the six games.
Walks were the downfall for Reds starter Tanner Roark. He gave up two run on only two hits over five innings, but he walked three and the first two scored.
He walked Corey Seager with one out in the first and he scored on Alex Verdugo’s double up the left center gap. He walked Joc Pederson with one out in the third and he came around on Max Muncy’s single and second baseman Jose Peraza’s error on a scorching line drive hit by Justin Turner.
Manager David Bell decided to take down Roark for a pinch-hitter in the fifth, even though he had given up only two runs and two hits and thrown only 87 pitches.
Roark was not pleased and it certainly didn’t work as the bullpen was abused for six runs.
“I felt good overall today,” he said. “No, no I did not want to (come out). They had different plans. Everybody isn’t happy all the time, so. . .on to the next one.”
About the two walks that turned into the two runs he gave up, Roark knows a pitcher pays for those and said, “Always. Always bad when you walk people.”
Roark could be seen arguing his case in the dugout to stay in the game as manager David Bell patiently explained.
“Absolutely I’m capable of going more than five or six innings,” he said, “I threw 113 pitches once this year. Their thought process was to try to score some runs, so. . .”
Said Bell about Roark not wanting to vacate the mound, “No, he never does (want to leave). And I love that, love that about him. And it was good we were able to talk about it in the dugout to explain it. I never want him to like it or accept it.
“But I wanted to give him the thought process there,” said Bell. “It was all about trying to get back into the game (with a pinch-hitter) and score some runs.”
It stayed 2-0 until the seventh when analytics took a bite out of the Reds. With one out, right hander Michael Lorenzen struck out Max Muncy and Justin Turner.
But with left hander Cody Bellinger strolling to the plate, Bell stayed with his penchant for lefty-against lefty and brought in left hander Wandy Peralta.
Bellinger is hitting .409 and right now seemingly could hit a pitching robot throwing 110 miles an hour. On Peralta’s first pitch, Bellinger launched his 17th home run over the center field wall, a two-run shot to give him 44 RBI and the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.
“The Bellinger home run was the difference,” said Bell. “That changed everything. We know he can hit. Wandy has been doing such a good job, but that definitely was the difference in the game.”
Peralta gave up another home run in the eighth, a two-out blast by the No. 8 hitter, catcher Russell Martin, his second of the year, for a 5-0 LA advantage.
Robert Stephenson put the capper on this dismal day by walking the bases loaded in the ninth and throwing a run-scoring wild pitch and a two-run double to Alex Verdugo that put the margin at 8-0.
The Reds had hits in each of the first five innings off Ryu, all singles, but none of the five advanced beyond second base. And they had zero hits after pinch-hitter Phillip Ervin’s bloop single in the fifth until Kyle Farmer led the ninth with a single.
That led to Jose Peraza’s two-out home run that did nothing but eliminate a shutout. And Derek Dietrich followed that with a pinch-hit home run, his 11th of the season and third pinch-hit home run. It was frosting on a cake already eaten.
In addition to the loss of the game, the Reds may have lost right fielder Yasiel Puig for a few games, although he is listed as day-to-day.
In the sixth inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, Ryu lofted one down the right field line, into the stands. Puig leaped above the fencing, reached into the stands, snagged the ball, then toppled to the ground. When he hit the ground he sprained his right shoulder.