The most impressive accomplishment for a relief pitcher these days is entering the 10th inning, which start with a runner on second base because of a new rule instituted last season, and not allowing a run.
The Reds played extra innings five times in the first 22 games and won the three times they didn’t give up a run in the 10th. Tejay Antone pitched a scoreless 10th Monday as the Reds snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory on the road against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Jesse Winker’s two-run home run in the top of the 10th inning proved to be the difference.
“The Dodgers are the best team in baseball right now,” Antone said. “We also knew that the Dodgers just had a very emotional and long series against the Padres so the the chess board was set for us to come in. We knew what needed to be done. We jumped on them early. (Tyler) Mahle threw a great game, and we we got it done. It was very important for us as a team, and we’re really happy we could kind of seal the deal right there.”
Mahle allowed one earned run in five innings and left the game with the Reds leading 3-1. Then Amir Garrett’s struggles continued as he gave up a game-tying, two-run home run to Corey Seager with two outs in the eighth. Garrett has a 14.21 ERA in eight appearances.
Antone, who had a 2.80 ERA for the Reds last season in his first year in the big leagues, entered the game in the eighth and expected to pitch only one inning. He instead pitched the final three. He walked two batters but didn’t allow a hit and struck out three.
In seven appearances and 13 2/3 innings, Antone has allowed one earned run on four hits. His 0.66 ERA is by far the best in the Reds bullpen for anyone who has made at least three appearances. This was the second time this season he has pitched at least three innings.
“To come in and throw three innings and shut out any team at the end of the game, the odds are against you,” Reds manager David Bell said, “but when you do it again this team, it says so much more. He came through for us in a big way. It was a big one.”
The Reds (10-12) won for the first time since April 17 when they were 9-5. The victory against the defending World Series champion Dodgers (15-8) followed three-game sweeps at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks and St. Louis Cardinals.
For one day at least, the Reds felt relief after a winless week.
“It felt like the tension was a little bit less or relieved a little bit,” Antone said, “but at the same time, we expect to win these games. We know when we click we’re better than the Dodgers. It’s just about expressing it and executing it on the field.”