Matt Harvey toed the rubber against Chase Utley and fell behind 3-0 facing his first batter in his Reds debut.
His next pitch was a 91-mph strike and then he got Utley to fly out to left for his first out in his first start since April 19.
From there, Harvey tossed four innings of one-hit ball and Cincinnati defeated the scuffling Los Angeles Dodgers 6-2 on Friday night, extending their season-high winning streak to four games.
“Everybody was saying we haven’t lost since they traded for me,” Harvey said. “I had to go out there and keep that going for everybody.”
Harvey struck out two and walked none in a 55-pitch outing that was cut short because of his lack of recent game competition. The right-hander’s fastball topped out in the mid-90s.
“I hadn’t seen that in a while. It was good to know it’s still in there,” said Harvey, whose velocity had been questioned. “I let one go and I took a peek just to see where I was at. It was nice.”
The lone hit Harvey gave up was a fluke. Right fielder Scott Schebler lost a high popup by Cody Bellinger in the lights against a sky dark with clouds, allowing Bellinger to slide into third for a triple in the second.
“The first-time jitters kind of hit me a little bit in that first at-bat,” Harvey said. “Tonight was a good first start. It’s only four innings, there’s a lot of work and a lot of season left.”
Harvey is seeking to revive his career after going 9-19 over the last three seasons with the New York Mets.
The team cut him last weekend and the last-place Reds acquired him on Tuesday for catcher Devin Mesoraco and cash on Tuesday after Harvey declined a demotion to the minors. He was 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in eight games, including four starts, for the Mets this season.
“I was just really happy for him. I know he had to be very anxious about pitching,” interim Reds manager Jim Riggleman said. “The ball was coming out of his hand good. He’ll pitch in San Francisco and hopefully carry that stuff out there with him again.”
Harvey returned from Tommy John surgery in 2015 and helped the Mets reach their first World Series in 15 years. But he was 5-7 with a 6.70 ERA last season and was sidelined from mid-June to September because of a right shoulder injury. The 29-year-old has yet to regain the All-Star form he had in 2013, and his off-field exploits made him a tabloid regular in New York.
“He really pitched efficient and executed a bunch of pitches,” catcher Tucker Barnhart. “If he’s able to build on that, it’s going to be great for us.”
Scooter Gennett was the Reds’ big bopper for the second straight night. He went 4 for 5, drove in three runs and scored twice. He hit a two-run homer into the lower right field seats in the fifth, extending the lead to 5-0.
In the third, Gennett and Barnhart had RBI singles that made it 3-0.
Gennett went 3 for 4 and drove in three runs in a 4-1 win in the series opener on Thursday.
Austin Brice (1-2) got the win in relief. Raisel Iglesias pitched two-thirds of an inning for his sixth save.
The Dodgers fell to 8-11 at home and got no help from Kenta Maeda (2-3), who hasn’t won in nearly a month.
Maeda gave up season-highs in runs (five) and hits (nine) in 4 2/3 innings, struck out five and walked two.
Maeda put the Dodgers in an early hole for the third time in as many starts. Joey Votto’s RBI single gave the Reds a 1-0 lead in the first before Maeda escaped a bases-loaded jam on Barnhart’s lineout to end the inning.
Gennett has homered in four straight games for the first time in his career. He’s also driven in two or more runs in four straight games. He’s hit safely in seven of his last eight road games.
RHP Homer Bailey (0-5, 5.61 ERA) makes his team-high ninth start for the Reds. The right-hander is 4-4 with a 4.57 ERA in 10 career starts against the Dodgers. RHP Ross Stripling (0-1, 1.93) takes the mound for Los Angeles in just his second career start against Cincinnati.
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