Improbable walk-off win sends Reds to three-game sweep of Astros -- ‘that was so much fun’

Jesse Winker didn’t want to say Wednesday’s near-impossible 3-2 walkoff win over the Houston Astros was the Cincinnati Reds’ best game of the season, but he knew one thing for sure.

“I will say it was a lot of fun,” the Cincinnati left fielder said. “That was our best series. We beat three really good pitchers and a really good bullpen. It was just a really good series.”

»PHOTOS: Reds first team to sweep Astros in 2019

Winker followed Nick Senzel’s game-tying single to left field with a game-winning single to right, both on first pitches from Houston closer Roberto Osuna, and the Reds completed a three-game sweep of the American League West Division leaders – all by one run.

“That was so much fun,” manager David Bell said. “I’m so happy seeing guys come through. It’s fun wanting to see guys to be up in those situations.”

Jose Peraza’s ground-rule double, which bounced over the left-center field wall, set the stage for the Reds fourth consecutive win – matching their longest winning streak of the season. The loss was Houston’s first in 46 games when leading after eight innings this season and sent the Astros to their first road sweep since September of 2017 at Oakland.

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The Reds were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, including strikeouts by left-handed pinch-hitters Tucker Barnhart and Joey Votto against the right-handed Osuna, before Senzel’s single. Senzel went to second when left fielder Michael Brantley’s throw to the plate trying to get Peraza got away from catcher Garrett Stubbs for a throwing error.

“We did that a lot last year,” Winker said. “We can score fast.”

Winker kept it a one-run game by throwing out Tony Kemp at the plate trying to score from second on Brantley’s single to left in the eighth. The assist was Winker’s fourth of the season.

“The throw bounced twice,” Winker said, crediting catcher Curt Casali. “He stuck with it. He did a really good job. He bailed me out.”

Right-hander Matt Bowman (1-0) pitched the last two innings for his first win as a Red

In his first start since describing last Friday as “ridiculous” the way he was being used, right-hander Tyler Mahle lasted a career-high seven innings in his first career appearance against Houston.

“I had to battle,” Mahle said. “To go seven against a team like that is huge. We worked in the bullpen on arm patch and everything changed. My fastball, curve and cutter all got better. I was in the zone a lot more.”

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After going 4-2 on the interleague home stand against the American League West’s top two teams, Houston and the Texas Rangers, the Reds left for a seven-day, six-game road scheduled to start on Thursday with the first of four games at Milwaukee. The Brewers went into Wednesday’s schedule leading the National League Central by a half-game over the Cubs. Cincinnati’s trip includes an off-day on Monday in California followed by two interleague games against the Angels.

Right-hander Tanner Roark (4-6) is scheduled to start for Cincinnati on Thursday. Roark is 4-2 in nine career games against Milwaukee and 2-1 with a 1.88 earned-run average in in four games – all of them starts – at Miller Park.

Rain delayed the start of Wednesday’s game for 31 minutes.

Starting with a double-play grounder to end the first, Mahle retired 12 consecutive batters before walking Tyler White with two outs in the fifth inning. After needing 93 pitches to reach 13 outs on Friday, he needed only 55 to get to that level on Wednesday.

He struck out the first two batters in the sixth before Alex Bregman singled and Michael Brantley unloaded on an 0-2 curveball and hammered it 438 feet into the right field seats for his 14thhomer of the season. The homer was the 13th allowed by Mahle this season, one behind the team-high 14 given up by Anthony DeSclafani.

Mahle bounced back to finish the seventh. He allowed four hits with one walk and seven strikeouts.

Gerrit Cole, who went into the game leading the majors in strikeouts, stranded seven baserunners in the first five innings and the only run he allowed in seven innings was a Yasiel Puig homer. The Reds took the first lead for the third time in the three-game series when Puig cracked a long home run about 12 rows deep into the lower level of seas in left-center field to lead off the second inning. The home run was his third of the home stand and 14th of the season.

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