The Real McCoy

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy shares his thoughts on the Cincinnati Reds
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McCoy: The Reds’ Dark Knight shuts down Braves

Matt Harvey is back to living up to his nickname when he was a star pitcher for the New York Mets — The Dark Knight.

Wearing his Cincinnati Reds uniform top unbuttoned to his belly button with the wishbone ‘C’ showing on his red undershirt, Harvey made it a dark night for the Atlanta Braves.

Harvey held the high-powered Braves to one run and six hits over 6 2/3 innings, his longest start since April of 2017 for the Mets, and the Reds scored a 5-3 victory Tuesday night in Sun Trust Park.

By winning their eighth game in their last nine, the Reds are only four games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Central. 

It was Harvey’s second straight solid start after giving up two runs in previous start against the Chicago Cubs — three runs in his last 12 2/3 innings.

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The Reds owned a 4-1 lead entering the eighth inning, but the Braves, comeback specialists all season, put a fright into the proceedings by scoring two runs in the eighth to pull within a run.

And the Braves had the tying run on base in the eighth when Reds closer Raisel Iglesias came in with two outs. After getting ahead of Charlie Culberson 0-and-2, he walked him to put two runners on base. Then he got his act together and did his thing, retiring Johan Camargo on a weak fly ball to left.

It was a big offensive night for Jesse Winker — three hits and two RBI. And Adam Duvall, hitting only .203, drove in a run, his 44th RBI, more than Joey Votto.

 The Reds faced Atlanta starter Anibal Sanchez, owner of a 3-and-1 record and a 2.55 earned run average.

 They broke through for the game’s first run in the fourth inning with aggressive baserunning. Scooter Gennett walked with one out and stole second, only his second theft this season. Then he took third on a fly ball by Eugenio Suarez and scored on Winker’s infield hit to second base.

 The Braves tied it in the bottom of the fourth with a run, but Harvey worked out of a mess. Three of the first four Braves reached base, the rally started by Harvey hitting Ozzie Albies with a pitch.

 Catcher Tyler Flowers doubled over Scott Schebler’s head for a run to tie it, 1-1, and the Braves had runners on third and second with one out. Harvey then retired Culberson on a ground ball to the mound and stopped the inning by getting Camargo to fly to right.

The Reds made it 2-1 in the fifth on Jose Peraza’s triple and Scott Schebler’s double.

The Reds made it 3-1 in the sixth on Scooter Gennett’s double and Duvall’s two-out single.

The Reds made it 4-1 in the eighth on Gennett’s walk, a ground ball and Winker’s single.

Then came Atlanta’s two-run uprising in the eighth, cutting the lead to 4-3, before the Reds tacked on an important run in the top of the ninth.

That rally started with two out and nobody on before Atlanta relief pitcher Shane Carle walked both Tucker Barnhart and Joey Votto that preceded a run-scoring single by Gennett to push the Reds two-up, 5-3.

Iglesias tempted fate in the bottom of the ninth by giving up a leadoff singles to Dansby Swanson. Pinch-hitter Ryan Flaherty hit into a double play, but Iglesias walked Ender Inciarte.

That brought up Ozzie Albies, the 20-year-old rookie as the potential tying run, the guy who hit a first-pitch game-winning home run Monday in the bottom of the 11th for a 5-4 Atlanta victory. 

This time Iglesias struck him out on three pitches for his 14th save, preserving the Reds’ 25th win in their last 44 games.

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