By Hal McCoy
Mother Nature put a temporary halt to what could have been a game-deciding San Francisco Giants rallly Monday night in Great American Ball Park.
With the score tied, 2-2, in the top of the eighth inning, the Giants had runners on third and second with one out.
Then a severe thunderstorm stopped the rally, put it on delay. After waiting two hours, the game was suspended.
It will be picked up were it left off before Tuesday’s regularly scheduled game.
For a team in a futile search for runs, even hits, the Reds faced a steep mountain challenge Monday ni
After scoring only three runs and seven hits during three straight losses to the Milwaukee Brewers, they were challenged to face Logan Webb, the Giants best pitcher.
And the Giants came to town on a five-game winning streak and a road record of 19-6 over their last six series, all wins, four of them sweeps.
In addition, San Francisco starting pitchers had given up three or fewer runs in 13 sraight games.
In Webb’s previous start, he pitched a complete-game seven-hit shutout against Colorado with no walks and 10 strikeouts.
The Reds had never scored a run against Webb. In three appearances, he had pitched 13 scoreless innings.
Reds manager David Bell scrambled his batting order, attempting to find some fire. He had Elly De La Cruz batting leadoff, dropped TJ Friedl from leadoff to second and dropped Matt McLain from second to third.
And there was a newcomer in the lineup. The Reds called up Christian Encarnacion-Strand from Louisville and Bell immediately installed him as the designated hitter, seventh in the batting order.
Before he even took the field, Encarnacio-Strand set a major-league record — with 26 letters, his name is the longest ever to take a major-league field.
His name is so long they could only put Encarnacion on the back of his jersey. But he requested the media to use his full Christian Encarnacion-Strand name.
After seven innings, the score was 2-2 and all four runs came on solo home runs.
The Reds quickly eliminated their string of zeros against Webb when McLain cracked a two-out home run in the first inning.
San Francisco tied it against Reds starter Brandon Williiamson when leadoff hitter Austin Slater slaughtered a pitch 448 feet high into the right field seats.
The Giants took a 2-1 lead in the sixth when Wilmer Flores drove a home run into the lower seats in left field.
And the Reds answered. Jonathan India came into the game 3 for 28. He singled in the doubled in the fifth and tied it, 2-2, with a leadoff home run in the seventh. At the time, he had three of the Reds’ four hits off Webb.
Fernando Cruz pitched a 1-2-3 seventh and Bell brought in lefthander Alex Young to face lefthanded pinch-hitter Joc Pederson to open the eighth.
He walked Pederson and gave up a double to Flores, his third hit, put runners on third and second with no outs. Michael Conforto grounded to first and the runners held.
Then heavy rains assaulted GABP, forcing the tarpaulin to be pulled onto the field for the rain delay. Mother Nature seemingly did the Reds a huge favor because Webb won’t be able to pitch Tuesday.
For his seven innings, he gave up two runs, four hits (three by India, one by McLain), walked none and struck out seven.
He extended the streak of Giants’ starting pitchers giving up three or fewer runs to 14 game.