By Hal McCoy
Hunter Greene was indestructible, dazzling and dominating Saturday night in Dodger Stadium. . .for five innings.
It was not enough. In the sixth inning, Trea Turner unloaded a two-run home run and it led to a 5-2 win for the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Cincinnati Reds.
Greene received zero comfort and aid from his teammates as five LA pitchers held the Reds to four hits, two by catcher Tyler Stephenson. And they struck out 12 times.
In those first five innings, the Reds much-publicized and must-hyped 22-year-old rookie lived up to it all. He showed complete confidence and composure pitching in his hometown, against the team he grew up rooting for and in front of 51,000 fans.
Thirty-eight of Greene’s fastball were between 100 and 102 miles an hour and he had the Dodgers befuddled. Eleven pitches were clocked at 101 or above.
He held LA to no runs and three weak singles while striking out six. He struck out Freddie Freeman with a 102 miles an hour delivery. He struck out Edwin Rios, Chris Taylor, Gavin Lux and Freeman at 101 and fanned Trea Turner with a slider.
Then came the sixth and his fastball was down to 99 miles an hour. Catcher Austin Barnes, batting ninth, poked a single to right field.
Trea Turner, one of the baseball’s hottest hitters, then launched a 99 miles an hour fastball into the left field pavilion, extending his hitting streak to 27 games.
Greene struck out Freeman, but Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson couldn’t handle the pitch and Freeman reached first on a passed ball.
Greene retired Justin Turner for the inning’s first out and was replaced with Buck Farmer. With two outs, Rios poked a single to right. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch and Chris Taylor drove a two-run single to right for a 4-0 LA lead.
“A great outing, you can’t do much better against that lineup,” said Reds manager David Bell. “Even the home run Turner hit. You have to give Turner credit. The pitch was right on the black — 99 to 100 miles an hour (99).
“That Dodger lineup is really good and what Hunter did was. . .it just doesn’t get any better than that — 100 and 101, locating his fastball, really good slider,” Bell added.
Asked if Greene was tiring in the sixth, Bell said, “Hard to say. Maybe a little bit. He was still throwing 100 miles an hour, looked strong. That was going to be his last inning.”
The Dodgers added a run in the seventh against Daniel Duarte on a walk, single and Freeman’s sacrifice fly.
The Reds did nothing to help Greene against Dodger lefthander Julio Rios. He muzzled the Reds on no runs and one hit for five innings, walking one and striking out five.
The Reds finally broke through for two runs in the ninth, including a run-scoring single by Tommy Pham that ended his 0 for 22 to start the season.
It led to the Reds to a fifth straight defeat third straight to the Dodgers in this four-game series and a 2-7 record, while the Dodgers won their fifth straight.
—On the pitching injury front, starting pitcher Mike Minor suffered a setback and a month has been added before he makes his possible return.
Minor (left shoulder strain) made his first rehabilitation start at Birmingham earlier this week for Class AA Chattanooga and it was ugly. In only 1 2/3 innings (45 pitches) he gave up six earned runs, five hits (two home runs) and a walk.
He felt soreness in his left shoulder and returned to Cincinnati for treatment. Minor was part of the trade that sent Amir Garrett to Kansas City. He arrived with a sore shoulder, which the Reds said they knew about.
Starting pitcher Luis Castillo (right shoulder strain) threw 20 pitches in batting practice Thursday and is scheduled to throw again Tuesday in San Diego
Relief pitcher Lucas Sims (back spasms) made his first rehabilitation start Tuesday for Class AAA Louisville at Omaha and gave up a run and a walk during one 17-pitch inning. He pitched again Friday night in Omaha and gave up a solo home run and a walk in a 12-pitch inning.