By Hal McCoy
Another Cincinnati Reds streak was buried under the Great American Ball Park’s finely manicured grass.
After ending the Reds 12-game winning streak on Saturday, the Atlanta Braves ended Cincinnati’s streak of winning five straight series.
The fully-loaded Braves scored a 7-6 breath-holding win Sunday afternoon in front of 40,140 fans.
And the Reds didn’t go down without putting fear in the heart of the Braves. Down 7-6 in the ninth, the Reds put runers on third and first with one out. With most of the patrons on their feet, Kevin Newman hit into a game-ending double play.
The season series is over and all six games were decided by one run, five wins by the Braves and one by the Reds.
The Reds had no mircale medicine to cure their Matt Olson malady. Olson’s fourth home run of the series was the difference as the Braves took two of three.
Olson curved an opposite field drive inside the left field pole, five rows deep into the seats in the sixth inning, a three-run jolt that broke a 3-3 tie. It gave the Braves a 6-3 lead, a lead the Reds couldn’t overcome. The Braves, a homer-happy bunch, have hit at least one home run in 20 straight games.
Olson’s home run was preceded by a two-out walk by Ian Gibaut. Walks more than home runs plagued the Reds in this one. Reds pitchers walked 10 and
four came around to score.
And walks nearly did in the Braves. too. With his team ahead, 7-4, in the eighth, relief pitcher AJ. Minter walked pinch-hitter Kevin Newman and TJ Friedl, both on 3-and-2 counts.
Atlanta manager Brian Snitker brought in Joe Jimenez to face Matt McLain. Bad mistake. McLain drilled a two-run double and both the walks scored.
That was McLain’s fourth hit that included three doubles and a home run that produced five RBI. And it cut Atlanta’s advantage to 7-6.
McLain’s home run was a leadoff rip in the seventh inning, the 10th straight game in which the Reds have homered at least once.
The two teams hit 19 home runs in the three-game series, 10 by the Braves, nine by the Reds, tying the GABP home run record for a three-game series.
Former Reds pitcher Raisel Iglesias came into the battle in the ninth and struck out Elly De La Cruz to start the inning. De La Cruz was 0 for 5, stranded five runners and struck out his last three times.
Jake Fraley singled to put the potential tying run on base. Was there more magic for the Reds during this magical ride?
Jonathan India, 1 for 16 and an unprecedented pinch-hitter for Joey Votto in the seventh, blooped a single to right, sending Fraley to third.
Kevin Newman forced eight pitches from Iglesias, then it came to a crushing end for the Reds when Newman hit into a 5-4-3 around the horn double play.
With a depleted pitching corps, the Reds had to dig deeply into their gym bag, where mostly dirty socks reside.
To start the game they brought up Levi Stoudt from Triple-A Louisville for his second start. In two previous appearances early this season, one start and one relief appearance, he was 0-and-1 with a 10.29 earned run average. He gave up three runs, four hits and three walks for his three innings.
He was followed by Louisville call-up Randy Wynne, who was pitching independent ball last year. Wearing uniform number 82, Wynne was decent, one run, three hits and a walk in 2 1/3 innings.
Stroudt gave up a triple to open the third when right fielder Fraley missed a diving catch. He scored Ozzie Albies sacrifice fly,
It was 1-0 but Stroudt had two outs and nobody on. But he walked Austin Rlley and Olson, both on full counts. Centerville native and Wright State University product Sean Murphy singled home Riley and Marcell Ozuna singled home Olson and it was 3-0.
Atlanta’s starter was 39-year-old 16-year veteran Charlie Morton. And the Reds had him covering up on the ropes all afternoon.
They had two on and one out in the first and didn’t score. They had two on and two outs in the second and didn’t score.
They broke through in the third on back-to-back doubles to lead the inning by McLain and Spencer Steer, but that’s the only run they scored and it was Atlanta 3, Cincinnati 1.
They tied it, 3-3 in the fourth when Tyler Stephenson and Nick Senzel opened with singles. TJ Friedl bunted the runners to third and second and McLain doubled them home. But the next three Reds left McLain standing at second.
Ronald Acuna Jr. doubled, but Ian Gibaut had two outs. He walked Riley and Olson did his thing, another home run to lift the Braves to a 6-3 lead.
A big, big run came qcross for the Braves in the eighth, accomplised without a hit. Buck Farmer walked the first two.
Alexis Diaz replaced Farmer with no chance for a save and he is not too effective when a save isnt dangling in front of him. With one out, he walked Murphy on a full count to fill the bases, then walked Ozuna for force in Atlant’s saventh run, which proved to be the winning runs when the Reds rallied in the eighth and ninth and came up a run short.
Both teams littered the bases with runner. The Reds were 4 for 16 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10. The Braves were just as futile, 3 for 15 with runners in scoring position and they stranded 13, but won for the 17th time in 20 games.
And when a three-game series is tied, 1-1, the Braves are 6-0 in the rubber game.
The Reds now move to Baltimore, an abbreviated three-game trip to Camden Yards that begins Monday. Then they return home next weekend for three against the San Diego Padres.