Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Reds strike early to cool off red-hot Rangers

The hottest team in baseball was stopped on Tuesday night. Behind four RBIs from Jay Bruce and three from Zack Cozart, the Reds marched to an 8-2 victory over the Rangers that snapped their seven-game winning streak.
Rangers starter Colby Lewis, who was four outs from a perfect game his last time out, saw his night go sideways quickly. Bruce's three-run homer gave Cincinnati a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
"Any time you can get the momentum on your side like that, it's very important," Bruce said. "To nick a guy like that early, who's been having a lot of success and has been pitching very, very well, it's big. You give your pitcher a 3-0 lead, I think they'll feel a lot better than having to battle from behind or tied."
It was a 3-2 game in the fifth when Cozart hit a two-run triple to right-center and scored onBilly Hamilton's sacrifice fly.
"The two-strike counts, which he's been good at all season, he seemed to get hurt in those situations," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said of Lewis. "Typically, that comes down to execution."
Not to be overlooked was the strong seven-inning performance from Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani, who allowed two earned runs and five hits with one walk and six strikeouts.Jurickson Profar made it a one-run game in the bottom of the second inning with a two-run homer to right field -- his third of the season. Raisel Iglesias returned from the disabled list and pitched the final two innings for Cincinnati in his first game since April 25.
At 46-26, the Rangers still have the best record in the American League and the second-best record in baseball.
"Still felt like we had good energy, guys are playing hard all the way through the end," Banister said. "We're not going to overanalyze this game."
Bruce scorches into summer: Bruce's three-run homer in the top of the first extended his hitting streak to seven games. It was his 16th home run of the season and second of the road trip, and he added an RBI double in the seventh on a slow roller down the left-field line to beat the shift. Over his last 22 games, Bruce is batting .326 with eight homers and 26 RBIs.
"I got a pitch to hit that I didn't miss," Bruce said of the homer off an 85-mph fastball. "I've talked a lot this year about ending at-bats when they should be ended. Whether I'm out or I'm safe, when I get a ball that I feel like I could put a good swing on, I like to put a good swing on it and let the decision be the decision in the field." More >
Lewis leaves with cramps: Lewis exited after five innings after he experienced cramping in his right triceps, and he will be re-evaluated on Wednesday. Left-hander Cesar Ramos came on in relief in the sixth. Lewis was not sharp in his five innings, allowing six runs on five hits, after taking a perfect game into the eighth and a no-hitter into the ninth against the A's on Thursday.
"I feel like if it's anything, it's going to be a Charley horse, it's going to be sore," Lewis said. "The muscle was [cramping] in and out, kind of like a back issue or something, where you just work out and let the muscles rest and get it back right." More >
Cozart provides insurance: With one out in the top of the seventh, Cozart added a solo homer off Ramos by driving a 3-1 pitch to left-center. It was the 11th homer of the season for Cozart, who is trying to earn a spot on the National League All-Star team.
"Coming into this series, we knew they were hot," Cozart said. "I watched some of their game last night vs. Baltimore. You know they're a good squad. We've had a long road trip. For the guys to come out and play like we did was big, especially at the end of this road trip. They're good. That just shows what we can do as a team when we put stuff together. We want to do that more often."
Profar's home run provides brief hope: Profar brought the Rangers within one in the second when he lined a 3-2 fastball from DeSclafani into the seats in right field to make it 3-2. Adrian Beltre was onboard with a single thanks to a little help from Reds third basemanEugenio Suarez, who thought Beltre's chopper had hit off his glove and gone into left field. But the ball had been in his glove the whole time while Beltre reached first base easily.
"It was nice to have some things go my way and just continue throwing strikes. I felt like I was able to get into more of a rhythm today. It felt nice." -- DeSclafani, who retired 17 of his last 20 batters
"It just [stinks], because even though I was giving up runs, the pitch count was down and I could have saved the bullpen for at least three more innings." -- Lewis, on having to leave the game in the fifth with cramping in his right triceps
After making a catch on Ryan Rua's fly ball to center in the bottom of the eighth, Hamilton threw out Mitch Moreland for an inning-ending double play after Moreland tried to tag up and score. It was Hamilton's fifth assist of the season, tying him with Bruce for the team lead among outfielders.
The Rangers' franchise record of 10 straight series wins was snapped with the loss. The last team to win 10 straight series was the 2013 Rays.
Reds: Dan Straily will get the ball when the brief two-game series concludes at 8:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Straily, who has been one of the Reds' more dependable starters, is coming off his worst outing of the season -- 4 1/3 innings and six earned runs vs. the Braves on Thursday.
Rangers: Left-hander Cole Hamels will get the nod in the finale of the two-game series at 7:05 p.m. CT on Wednesday at Globe Life Park. Hamels is 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA through four starts in June and has gone at least seven innings in each one.

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