The Boston Red Sox-Cincinnati Reds game Tuesday night in Great American Ball Park was not a reprise of the 1975 World Series, one of the best ever.
That wasn’t possible — not a game involving the last-place Red Sox (American League East) and the next-to-last-place last Reds (National League Central).
Reds starter Nick Lodolo threw in one of his rare clunkers over five eventful innings that led to a 5-3 Boston victory, Cincinnati’s 90th defeat with 14 games remaining.
The Reds did score two runs in the ninth and had two runners on base when Jake Fraley grounded out to end it.
Lodolo entered the game with one walk in his last three starts and 31 strikeouts. Not only did he walk three, he hit three batters.
Lodolo has hit 18 batters this season and the third batter he hit tied a major league record for the Reds. Cincinnati pitchers have hit 99 batters this season, tying the record set by last season’s Chicago Cubs.
And Lodolo gave up two home runs.
Boston’s first run came in the third after Lodolo retired the first two. He walked Xander Bogaerts and J.D Martinez lined one to center. The ball and center fielder Senzel reached the wall at the same time. The ball hit the wall and Senzel hit the ground as Bogaerts scored on Martinez’s triple.
Boston’s rookie starter, 23-year-old rookie Brayan Bello, hadn’t given up a home run during his first 44 1/3 innings. T.J. Friedl ended that with a leadoff home run deep into the right field moon deck in the third, tying it, 1-1.
Rob Refsnyder gave the Bosox a 2-1 lead by opening the fourth inning with a home run into the second deck of the left-field stands.
Lodolo gave up another home run, this one to Martinez with two outs in the fifth, for a 3-1 Boston lead.
The Reds spent the first five innings littering the basepaths with runners, all of whom were stranded against Bello, who brought a 1-6 record and a 5.10 earned run average into the game.
They were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight.
They loaded the bases with no outs in the second, but Senzel struck out, Jose Barrero struck out and Austin Romine grounded out.
Friedl homered leading off the third and the Reds put three runners on base after the homer, but didn’t score. Jonathan India walked and Kyle Farmer hit into a double play. Jake Fraley and Donovan Solano singled, but Aristides Aquino grounded into a fielder’s choice.
Senzel left the game after running into the wall in the third inning and his replacement, Stuart Fairchild, doubled to lead off the fourth. He stayed there while the next three Reds made outs.
The Reds received two-out back-to-back singles in the fifth from Fraley and Solano — three hits for each — but Aquino flied to right.
The Red Sox frittered away a chance for more runs in the seventh when they loaded the bases with one out against Dauri Moreta and Ian Gibaut. It ended when Martinez hit into a double play.
The Bosox left two more on base in the eighth after Alex Verdugo singled and Refsnyder walked to open the inning against Moreta. Moreta retired Kike Hernandez on a pop-up and Reiver Sanmartin came in to retire pinch-hitter Tristan Casas on a squibber back to the mound and a struck out Connor Wong.
The Red Sox didn’t miss an opportunity in the ninth against Hunter Strickland. Former Reds’ outfielder Tommy Pfam led off the inning with his second single and Rafael Devers cleared the center-field wall with his 27th home run to make it 5-1.
Cincinnati was facing the second worst bullpen (by earned run average) in the American League, but Boston relief pitchers Ryan Brassier, Zack Kelly, Matt Barnes retired nine straight from the sixth through the eighth.
Matt Strahm pitched the ninth and Fairchild greeted him with a single. Barrero struck out, pinch-hitter Spencer Steer walked and pinch-hitter Alejo Lopez walked on four pitches.
That loaded the bases with one out and brought the potential tying run to the batter’s box. India walked on a full count, forcing in a run to make it 5-2 and ending Strahm’s night.
Boston manager Alex Cora summoned side-armer John Schreiber from the bullpen to face Kyle Farmer, 0 for his last 17, and he hit a sacrifice fly to make it 5-3. Fraley grounded to first and that was that.
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