By HAL McCOY
Cincinnati Reds pitchers threw 208 pitches to the Atlanta Braves Saturday night in Sun Trust Park — one pitch too many.
The 208th, a 0-and-2 pitch thrown by Robert Stephenson, was pulled into left field by Ronald Acuna Jr. for a single, a walk-off 5-4 victory for the Braves in 10 innings.
The winning run, scored by Adam Duvall, came after Duvall walked. It was one of nine walks issued by Reds pitchers. Incredibly, Cincinnati pitchers went to 3-and-2 counts 13 times.
Amazingly, the Braves didn’t have a hit from the fifth inning until Acuna’s hit in the 10th. But Reds pitchers issued six walks over that span.
That included four in one inning by Amir Garrett (one) and Michael Lorenzen (three) that forced in a run and gave the Braves a 4-3 lead after eight.
They packed Sun Trust Park figuring they would see a couple of pitching clinics.
They saw one.
It was Cincinnati’s Trevor Bauer, pitching his first game for the Reds, facing Atlanta’s Dallas Keuchel, a free agent pitcher the Braves signed in June.
Keuchel was as advertised. Bauer wasn’t as his adrenaline level was probably at the top of the gauge in a loss that wasn’t his.
Bauer survived only 4 2/3 innings, mostly because his pitches were all over the Sun Trust Park zip code.
He gave up three runs and seven hits, needing 107 pitches (63) strikes to cover the 4 2/3 innings. He went to 3-and-2 counts six times and spent an inordinate time taking his cap off and on and shaking off the signs of catcher Tucker Barnhart.
Meanwhile, Keuchel was nearly impeccable through six, inducing ground ball after ground ball from the off-balance Reds hitters.
The Reds had only one hit through six innings, a bloop single to center field in the second inning by Aristides Aquino, his first major league hit.
Aquino also drew a walk in the fifth and was the only Reds’ base runner. . .until the seventh.
Eugenio Suarez singled, Jose Iglesias singled and. . .ka-bam. Aquino struck again. He had 28 home runs this year at Class AAA Louisville. His first one in the majors tied the game, 3-3.
And that took Bauer off the hook for a loss.
Bauer loaded the bases in the first inning via a single, a walk and a hit batsman. He escaped by striking out Adam Duvall.
He gave up a run in the third without a hit. He walked Ozzie Albies on a full count. Albies stole second, took third on a ground ball and scored on Bauer’s wild pitch.
The Braves made it 3-0 in the fifth with two runs. Albies tripled off the right field wall and scored on Freddie Freeman’s ground ball double inside the first base bag, stroked at a snail’s pace 76 miles an hour.
Bauer struck out Duvall the first two at bats, but with two strikes Duvall pulled a run-scoring double over third base for a 3-0 Braves lead.
After Aquino’s game-tying home run tied it, Garrett and Lorenzen’s staged their walk-a-thon in the eighth.
Garrett walked the first batter and Lorenzen replaced him. He struck out two but also walked two more before going to 3-and-2 on Ronald Acuna, Jr, the 11th 3-and-2 count by a Reds pitcher.
Then next pitch was in the dirt and the winning run trotted home for a 4-3 lead.
The Braves brought in their new closer, Shane Greene, to wrap this one up.
The guy the Braves just acquired at the trade deadline wasn’t up to it. He gave up back-to-back singles Jose Iglesias and Jesse Winker.
Tucker Barnhart blooped a game-tying single to left field. Winker tried to score from second on the hit and left fielder Adam Duvall threw him out.
With two on and two outs, Nick Senzel fouled out to leave it tied.
By the 10th inning, acting manager Freddie Benavides was out of position players, forcing him to permit pitcher Raisel Iglesias to bat in the 10th with two outs, even though Jared Hughes was coming in to pitch. Iglesias, of course, struck out.
Hughes promptly walked the first two Braves in the 10th, Duvall and Ender Inciarte, both on full counts. Both runners were bunted up to third and second.
Robert Stephenson replaced Hughes and struck out pinch-hitter Charlie Culberson for the second out. And he had two strikes on Acuna, but that 208th pitch was the dagger.