By Hal McCoy
The Cincinnati Reds were down two runs entering the seventh inning Friday night in Miami. . .and judging by the way things have unfolded this season, they had the Miami Marlins right where they wanted them.
They scored two in the seventh to tie it and Jake Fraley unloaded a three-run home run in the ninth inning to grasp a 7-4 victory.
And why did they have the Marlins where they wanted them? The Reds have won 17 games and 11 times they came from behind to grab a win.
Fraley’s home run was his second of the game, the first multi-homer game of his career. His first home run broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Reds a 2-1 lead.
“To keep the momentum going with twat we’ve been doing is awesome,” said Fraley in a post-game interview with Bally Sports after the Reds won for the fourth time in six games. “We don’t get overwhelmed in situations and I’m just really proud of this team.
This team is so fun. We just battle and we lean on everybody to play their part.”
They leaned on the bottom of the order to get things started in the ninth. Both Stuart Fairchild, batting eighth, and Jose Barrero. batting ninth, pushed opposite field singles to right field to open the ninth when it was 4-4.
Former Reds pitcher Dylan Floro struck out Jonathan India, ending India’s eight-game hitting streak. That brought up Fraley, batting second in the order in place of injured TJ Friedl.
“I knew I wanted to get him close to me (an inside pitch),” said Fraley. “He likes to go two-seamer away and four-seamer inside. I wanted to get him close to me and see him up.
“He threw two really good sliders, one of them I swung at, then the fastball was over the plate and I was able to get the barrel on it.”
Miami started 6-foot-8, 20-year-old Eury Perez, promoted from Double-A to make his major league debut. And he was impressive — 4 2/3 innings two runs, four hits, two walks, seven strikeouts.
Both Reds runs came on home runs, one by Tyler Stephenson and one by Fraley. Fraley worked a 10-pitch walk in the third, then picked on Perez’s first pitch to him in the fifth and drove it into the right fied seats.
“It helps to have an at bat like I did my second at bat,” said Fraley. “I got to see all of his pitches, see them over and over and over. He used his whole arsenal and I was able to squeeze him for a walk.
“Then (in the next at bat) I was standing on a fastball and he left one over the plate,” Fraley added.
The Reds survived despite some atrocious defense behind starter Graham Ashcraft that left them in the 4-2 hole.
Stephenson’s home run in the fourth gave the Reds a 1-0 lead. But in the bottom of the fourth, right fielder Wil Myers overthrew the cutoff man on Bryan de la Cruz’s double, enabling Luis Arraez to score from first.
Then in the fifth, Myers lost a fly ball hit by Joey Wendle, never saw it, and it landed behin him for a triple.
Stephenson then was charged with a passed ball that enabled Wendle to score. Stephenson’s throw to Ashcraft was in time and Wendle was called out. But replay-review revealed that Ashcraft bobbled the ball, didn’t have control, and Wendle was ruled safe.
It was a forgettable night for Myers. In addition to his two defensive gaffes, he struck out with a runner on third in the fourth, hit jnto a double play in the sixth and struck out again in the eighth.
A home run by Jazz Chisholm Jr. in the fifth inning and a home run by Peyton Burdick in the sixth gave Miami a 4-2 lead.
The Reds tied it in the seventh on a two-out, two-run double by Spencer Steer, whose last six hits have been for extra bases.
That set it up for Fraley’s heroics.
Alexis Diaz pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts, his eighth straight save this season and 13th straight going back to last season.