Manager Bryan Price and everyone in the Cincinnati Reds dugout shouted with delight when Tucker Barnhart hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning.
The Reds took a 4-2 lead Wednesday afternoon over the Atlanta Braves. Barnhart’s blast allowed Price to keep starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani, who was due to bat next, in the game. With a runner at second, Price would have pinch hit for DeSclafani if Barnhart hadn’t got a hit.
DeSclafani pitched two more innings and carried the Reds to a 6-3 victory at Great American Ball Park in the series finale.
“That’s three games in a row where he’s kind of saved me,” DeSclafani said, “because if he gets out there, I’m out of the game and I don’t get to throw those two more innings. He got a big hit, so I was able to stay in and luckily get the win, but on top of that, we got the win. That’s what matters. I feel like we’re playing good ball right now.”
The Reds (36-59) have won four of six games since the All-Star break. They won two of three games against the Milwaukee Brewers last weekend and distanced themselves from the Braves (33-62), the worst team in the National League, by winning two of three games.
DeSclafani is a big reason for the team’s improving winning percentage (.379). He’s 5-0 in eight starts since returning from the disabled list. He lowered his ERA to 2.50 and lasted eight innings for the second time.
“It wasn’t fun being on the shelf,” DeSclafani said. “I just wanted to come back and try to provide a spark for the club, eat as many innings as I could and try to keep the bullpen out of it for as long as possible. It’s been cool. It’s been great. I’m not going to complain. I’m 5-0.”
DeSclafani allowed two earned runs on eight hits. He extended his streak of innings without a walk to 21 and struck out three. He has six quality starts in a row.
The Reds trailed 2-0 through five. Jose Peraza tied the game with a two-run single in the sixth. The next batter, Barnhart, hit his fourth home run of the season. Barnhart is hitting .265.
Barnhart was more impressed with DeSclafani’s performance. He threw 114 pitches, and 76 were strikes.
“He’s throwing the ball great,” Barnhart said. “He keeps us in the game. He keeps the defense on its toes. He throws a lot of strikes. I looked up there at one point, and he had like 65 or 70 strikes to 25 balls, which is outrageous. He commands the strike zones with all four of his pitches. He really comes after guys. It’s somewhat overwhelming from a hitter’s perspective when you really don’t get a chance to breathe.”
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