By Hal McCoy
The beautiful city of San Diego is a preferred tourist destination, but the Cincinnati Reds would prefer not to hear San Diego uttered in a sentence.
The Reds are not tourists, they are businessmen on a business trip when they visit San Diego. And business is not good for them.
For the 13th time in 14 games over the past three seasons, the Reds were on the short end of the score Monday night in Petco Park, an 8-3 defeat to the San Diego Padres.
The big and decisive blow came off the bat of Padres second baseman Ha-Seong Kim, a three-run home run in the fifth inning off usually reliable relief pitcher Alex Young.
Young had given up only one run all season, but Kim’s home run into the front row seats in left field turned a 3-3 tie into a 6-3 Padres advantage.
Before the game, the Reds had to be thinking they were being served a delicious chicken dinner with Blake Snell pitching. Snell was 0-and-4 and the Padres had lost all five of his starts this season. And he was averaging seven walks per nine innings.
Snell, though, showed he meant no-nonsense this night in the first inning when he retired the Reds on seven pitches, six of them strikes.
He pitched six innings for the first time this season and did not walk a batter and went to a three-ball count only twice while striking out seven.
Reds starter Luke Weaver had the first-inning shakes and gave up two runs when the first three Padres reached base, started off with a single by Fernando Tatis Jr.
Tatis was making his first home appearance since an 80-game suspension for PED use and a motorcyle mishap. He celebrated with three hits.
After the first-inning single by Tatis, Weaver walked Manny Machado on a full count and Juan Soto singled for a run. A second run scored on Jake Cronenworth’s two-out infield single.
Weaver settled in after that and the Reds came back to take a 3-2 lead. They scored two in the third on Luke Maile’s single, Spencer Steer’s single and Stuart Fairchild’s two-run double to left.
Nick Senzel is in baseball’s Twilight Zone right now and fresh off winning the National League Player of the Week.
Senzel, batting seventh, put the Reds in front, 3-2, with a home run in the fourth, his third home run in five games. . .and he has to be wondering when he will move up in the batting order. He had three hits on this night.
San Diego immediately tied it in the bottom of the fourth on back-to-back doubles by Kim and Trent Grisham.
Then came the decisive fifth. With one out, Xander Bogaerts singled. Young replaced Weaver and Matt Carpenter singled, the same Matt Carpenter who used to torture the Reds when he played for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Young retired Jake Cronensworth on a hard line drive to second baseman Jonathan India for the second out. And he had two strikes on Kim, one strike away from preserving the 3-3 tie.
But Kim drove a 2-2 pitch that nearly chipped paint off the top of the left field wall, the first home run given up by Young since September of 2021.
The Padres put it away in the eighth by scoring two runs off Reiver Sanmartin.
San Diego was fresh from a two-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants in Mexico City, 7,350 feet above sea level. They won one game, 16-11, during which 11 home runs were hit by 10 different players.
They only hit one Monday, but it was a gigantic one. But they had 16 hits that included four doubles and the Padres were 7 for 17 with runners in scoring position.
A Reds pitching highlight occurred in the sixth inning when Casey Legumini faced the top of the potent Padres batting order and went 1-2-3, striking out Manny Machado and Juan Soto.