Rookie right-hander Sal Romano’s changeup and the Reds’ clubhouse laundry added up to a desperately needed win on Sunday.
Romano made his fourth and longest big league start, keeping the Miami Marlins at bay long enough for the offense to string together enough runs for a 6-3 win in the finale of a three-game series and dismal 10-game home stand at Great American Ball Park.
Romano (2-2) overcame sticky conditions to allow one run and three hits over six innings with one walk and seven strikeouts. A.J. Ellis homered in the fourth.
“It feels great,” Romano said. “We needed that victory. I was attacking the strike zone. I told (catcher) Tucker (Barnhart) before the game to go ahead and call the changeup. I need to use it. Mostly I trusted what Tucker put down there. He’s been in the league a lot longer than I have. My tempo was good today. My fastball location was much better.”
Romano relied on the clubhouse laundry to get through the game.
“I had two jerseys and would change off between innings,” he said. “They would throw one in the dryer.”
“He pretty much overpowered us,” Miami manager Don Mattingly said. “He was just better than us today. The bad news is we turn around and see him again on Friday. We’ll see. We have to make adjustments.”
Scooter Gennett, Eugenio Suarez and Tucker Barnhart all hit solo home runs and Billy Hamilton had three hits and stole a pair of bases to increase his major league-leading total to 43 as the Reds finished a 2-8 home stand in which they allowed 23 homers and 72 runs – both franchise records for home stands of 10 or fewer games. Opponents reached double figures in scoring four times.
“Billy is hitting the ball on the screws again,” manager Bryan Price said. “He is confident enough to take a strike here and there to get a better pitch.”
Raisel Iglesias gave up one hit over two innings for his first save since July 9, his 17th in 18 chances this year.
Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton went 0 for 4 and finished the series without a home run. The NL home run leader had connected in three straight first innings entering the series.
He did throw out a pair of runners from right field, getting Barnhart at the plate in the second inning on Hamilton’s RBI single and Joey Votto at third base in the sixth on Gennett’s run-scoring single.
Votto also was hitless in four at-bats and went 4 for 33 on the home stand. His average has dropped to .297, down from .315 at the All-Star break.
Tom Koehler (1-5) gave up six runs - five earned - and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. He is 0-4 in eight starts since winning at San Diego on April 23.
Koehler also committed a throwing error on Votto’s potential double-play ball in the two-run fifth, allowing Gennett to contribute a run-scoring single.
“Solo home runs happen,” Koehler said. “You can live with them, especially here, but that play could’ve gotten us out of the inning. It totally deflated us. We had a chance to get an inning-ending double play and that would’ve changed the momentum of the game.”
“It was just a terrible throw,” he added. “I thought I had more time than I did and I threw it away. Now you’ve got to throw more pitches. Everything frustrating. I was frustrated with the whole game, but no one’s going to feel sorry for me. The Reds aren’t going to feel sorry for me when I see them again on Friday.”
Gennett’s 17th homer broke a 1-1 tie leading off the fourth, and Suarez started the sixth with his 16th homer, his fourth of the homestand.