“It really has been good all year and again (Thursday),” manager David Bell said of the pitching.
Cincinnati has won three straight after losing eight in a row following an Opening Day win over Pittsburgh.
“It’s big,” starting pitcher Sonny Gray said. “It’s no secret we’d lost eight straight. For us, it’s coming in every day and if we can focus on winning a series, the more series we can win and at the end of season we’ll be in a pretty good spot. It was a great series for us. We needed to come back home and win some games.”
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Gray managed to work through the fourth inning after getting smacked on the inside of his left calf near the knee by Miguel Rojas’s sharp one-hopper leading off the second inning. The right-hander threw a few pitches with manager David Bell and trainer Steve Baumann standing nearby and stayed in the game.
The Reds averted a threat when Rojas stole second as Lewis Brinson was striking out, and Rojas was declared out when Brinson was called for batter interference after stepping across the plate on his swing.
“It did get me in a decent spot,” Gray said of Rojas’s comebacker. “I feel good.”
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Leaving after four innings left Gray unqualified to get a win, but he at least avoided slipping to 0-3 as the Reds finally scored a run for him after being shut out in his first two starts. Jesse Winker and Votto led off the fourth with singles, and Suarez drove in Winker with a one-out single through the hole into left field.
“He wanted to stay in there,” Bell said of Gray. “Going as long as he did set the bullpen up.”
Robert Stephenson pitched a perfect fifth to get credit for the win, his first in the majors since Sept. 17, 2017, against Pittsburgh at Great American Ball Park.
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Cincinnati broke the game open with a three-run fifth. Votto drove in a run with his second opposite-field single, foiling Miami’s shift, and Puig – in his first game after a two-game suspension for his involvement in Sunday’s benches-clearing incident at Pittsburgh – followed with a two-run double into the left-field corner, raising his arms in triumph like a football referee signaling a touchdown as he reached second base.
The Reds left immediately after the game for Monterrey, Mexico, where after a rare Friday off, they are scheduled to play “home” games against St. Louis on Saturday and Sunday. The Reds open a seven-day, seven-game West Coast swing on Monday with the first of three games against the Dodgers and concluding with four games at San Diego. Right-hander Tanner Roark (0-0) is due to face Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright (1-0) on Saturday at 7:10 p.m.
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Each team is allowed to add one player to its roster for the Mexico series and the Reds are recalling outfielder Phillip Ervin, whom many thought should have made the team out of spring training after he hit .341 with five home runs and eight RBIs over 16 games.