By Hal McCoy
For one inning, the Cincinnati Reds did what they are supposed to do against a pitcher with a 0-10 record and against a team that had lost all 13 of his start.
The Reds scored five runs in the second inning against Kansas City Royals pitcher Jordan Lyles.
And that’s all they got. They made those five runs stand up for a 5-4 victory, their fourth straight win and ninth in 11 games.
They have become masters at winning one-run games. The win Tuesday night was their 13th one-run win and their third in three games.
They’ve also lost 12 one-run decisions and only Cleveland has played more one-run games.
The Royals scored first, a run off Reds lefthander Brandon Williamson on Salvador Perez’s single and a sacrifice fly by M.J. Melendez.
So when the Reds came back to win with the five runs in the second, technically it was their 22nd some-from-behind win.
Elly De La Cruz started the second inning with a walk and quickly stole second, his fifth straight succes. And he continued to third when second baseman Matt Duffy muffed the throw.
Spencer Steer singled to tie it, 1-1. Tyler Stephenson grounded into a force play and Will Benson walked. Kevin Newman doubled home a run, Stuart Fairchild singled home a run, TJ Friedl singled home a run and the Reds led, 5-1.
And that was it. Lyles turned into Cy Young and retired the final 14 Reds batters he faced, leaving after six innings and 94 pitches.
Williamson struggled. He gave up a run in the second on back-to-back doubless by Edward Oliveres and Duffy. He gave up a two-run home run to Bobby Witt Jr. in the third and it was 5-4.
Williamson left after five innings and the bullpen finished it off, but not without drama.
First, though, Daniel Duarte, called up from Class AAA Louisville just before the game, pitched a 1-2-3 sixth.
Ian Gibaut started the seventh and retired the first batter. Then he issued two walks and hit a batter, the bottom three of the Royals order, to fill the bases with one out.
Lucas Sims was summoned from the bullpen to face the top of the order and he struck out both Nick Pratto and Salvador Perez.
The ninth inning, of course, belonged to Alex Diaz and he pitched an easy-chair 1-2-3 inning for his 16th consecutive save this season and 22nd straight dating back to last season.
The Reds needed the spot-on relief pitching because after their five-run second they had only two baserunners over the final seven innings, both walks, one to TJ Friedl in the seventh and one to Jonathan India in the eighth.
Stephenson was robbed of a home run in the ninth when right fielder Melendez leaped above the fence to snag a ball that would have been a home run in 28 of the other 29 ball parks,
The Royals, 18-49, are one of the worst teams in baseball with runners in scoring position. After going 1-for-14 in their 5-4 loss to the Reds Monday, they were 1-for-5 Tuesday and stranded five.
The Reds gathered all five of their hits when they ravaged Lyles in the second, were 4-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded only three because they didn’t put many runners aboard.