By Hal McCoy
As is often said, all good things must come to an end. Even wonderful and magnificent things.
The Cincinnati Reds’ 12-game winning streak came crashing to Mother Earth Saturday afternoon in Great American Ball Park.
But as always, they did not go down without kicking and screaming before falling to the potent and powerful Atlanta Braves, 7-6.
The Reds made certain the Braves know they don’t go away without throwing some late punches.
Down 7-4 in the ninth against former Reds pitcher Raisel Iglesias, Jake Fraley and pinch-hitter Will Benson hit back-to-back home runs to pull the Reds within one.
With a second straight full house (43,498) in a frenzy, Iglesias hitched his knickers and struck out both Matt McLain and a slumping Jonathan India to put the last chapter on the Reds historic run, their first 12-game winning streak since 1957..
Despite only their third loss in 18 games, the Reds maintained their 1 1/2-games lead over the second-place Milwaukee Brewers, a loser Saturday to the Cleveland Guardians, 4-2.
It is the Chicago Cubs that are putting on the rush. They beat St. Louis Saturday in London, England, 9-1. They’ve won nine of ten and are within three games of the Reds in the weak-and-tumble National League Central.
There was not to be a 28th comeback win for the Reds and their streak of five straight comebacks came to an end.
It wasn’t that the Reds didn’t put up a strong pursuit. They went down scuffling. They trailed 3-0 and cut it to 3-2. They trailed 6-2 and cut it to 6-4. They trailed 7-4 but cut it to 7-6. And they were one swing of the
bat from tying it in the ninth.
After hitting five home runs in an 11-10 loss Friday nlght, Travis d’Arnaud,Ozzie Albies, Matt Olson and Marcell Ozuna accounted for five of Atlanta’s seven runs with four more home runs.
The Reds hit four homers in Friday’s 11-10 win and matched Saturday — one from rookie Spencer Steer and one from rookie Matt McLain, plus the two homers in the ninth by Fraley and Benson.
Graham Ashcraft came off the injured list to start for the Reds and was unable to keep Atlanta’s always noisy bats quiet.
The first two Braves reached in the top of the first, but Ashcraft worked out of it.
But d’Arnoud led the second with a home run, his second of the series. And he was a pain all afternoon to the Reds with four hits.
He was Atlanta’s cacther because Centerville native and Wright University product Sean Murphy is nursing a hamstring injury.
The Bravess made it 3-0 in the third on Albie’s home run and a run-scoring single by Ozuna.
The Reds cut it to 3-2 in the third when TJ Friedl led the inning with a push-bunt single, his seventh bunt single this season. With two outs, McLain broke a 1 for 12 skid with a home run. But he has reached base in 16 straight games.
Atlanta dropped a threer-spot on Ashcraft in the fourth after he had two outs and nobody on. Ozzie Albies singled and stole second. Austin Riley doubled for a run. Olson hit his third home run in the first two games of the series and 24th of the season to push the Braves in front, 6-2.
Done? Not these clawing, grasping Reds. Elly De La Cruz led the fourth with a single, his only hit of the day (1 for 3 with a walk). Then, of course, he easily stole second. And Steer unloaded his 11th home run, a blast the ricocheted off the facade of the upper deck, 413 feet from home plate. And the Reds put to runners on after the home run with two outs but Kevin Newman popped out.
That made it 6-4 and it stayed that way until Ozuna homered off Alex Young in the eighth to make it 7-4, a big, big run when the Reds hit two homers in the ninth.
Ashcraft, shaking rust off his 16 days on the injured list, gave up six runs and 10 hits, three of them homers during his four innings.
The Reds still have the opportunity to take the series when they meet the Braves Sunday afternoon.Ben Lively was the scheduled starter, but he landed on the disabled list and manager David Bell has not yet determined who will make the start.