LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Cincinnati Reds didn’t expect to have an easy time scoring runs against Zack Greinke, who was trying to play “follow-the-leader” after a no-hitter by Josh Beckett on Sunday and seven perfect innings by Hyun-Jin Ryu on Monday.
All they could generate through the first seven innings against Greinke was an RBI single by Roger Bernadina. Devin Mesoraco chased the right-hander with a two-run homer in the eighth, but the Reds still lost 6-3 Tuesday night.
“He’s a good pitcher and he just doesn’t give you a whole lot to hit,” Mesoraco said. “He keeps his slider down and on the outer part of the plate. He keeps his fastball down and away. He mixes in his curve and a changeup. You’ve got to try and get one in the middle and you may get one in a game or one in an at-bat and can’t miss it.”
Alfredo Simon (6-3) threw 70 pitches in 3 2-3 innings, giving up five runs, five hits and four walks after going 5-0 with a 1.05 ERA in his first five road starts. The right-hander was the first Reds pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to win his first five road starts of a season while allowing no more than five hits in any of them.
“Alfredo’s strength really so far, beyond having very good stuff, has been to execute quality pitches. And that got away from him a little bit in the fourth,” manager Bryan Price said. “With Greinke pitching, we were in a position where we couldn’t give up a bulk of runs. But they had a big inning. And when Greinke’s on, that’s a knockout blow.”
Simon retired the first two batters in the second before Andre Ethier drove the next pitch to right-center for his third home run of the season. It ended a drought of 83 at-bats since his previous long ball, a three-run shot against Arizona’s Mike Bolsinger on April 19 at Dodger Stadium.
Ethier came up in the fourth with three men on after a one-out intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez, and lined a 2-1 pitch into the right field corner for his first triple of the year.
Ethier’s season-high four RBIs increased his total to 25 in a crowded outfield arrangement that has forced manager Don Mattingly to mix and match with Matt Kemp, Crawford, Scott Van Slyke and right fielder Yasiel Puig – the only constant in the bunch. Puig, who came in second in the NL with a .345 average and 38 RBIs, reached base safely for the 28th straight game.
“No one likes it, and no one’s necessarily accepting it all the way. But you’ve just got to show up and be ready for whatever your role is that day, whether it’s starting or pinch-hitting or being a defensive replacement,” Ethier said. “I guess this is a situation where too much of a good thing is not necessarily good. But you’ve got to commend everyone for being professional and handling it as well as they can.”
Kemp was not in the starting lineup for the fifth straight game – his longest such stretch without an injury since he became a regular in 2008. Mattingly and his staff are waiting for the two-time Gold Glove center fielder to become comfortable enough in left field to play there on a regular basis alongside Ethier. Kemp pinch-hit in the eighth and struck out.
“He’s handled it well under the circumstances,” said Ethier, Kemp’s teammate since 2006. “It’s tough all around.”
Chone Figgins, starting at third base for the injured Juan Uribe, capped the Dodgers’ rally with an RBI single to make it 5-0.
Greinke (8-1) allowed three runs, eight hits and no walks in 7 2-3 innings. The 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner was lifted after giving up a two-run homer by Devin Mesoraco on his 104th pitch – ending Greinke’s streak of 22 consecutive starts in which he had allowed fewer than three earned runs. It was the longest such streak since the dead-ball era.
Kenley Jansen followed J.P. Howell out of the bullpen and pitched a perfect ninth for his 16th save. Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford left the game with a sprained left ankle after chasing down pinch-hitter Chris Heisey’s double in the corner leading off the eighth. Crawford said that he will have to go on the disabled list, although the club made no such announcement.
NOTES: Reds 2B Brandon Phillips, 3 for 16 lifetime against Greinke, got the night off. But he did bring manager Bryan Price’s lineup card to home plate for the exchange with the umpires. … Todd Frazier, whose leadoff double in the eighth on Monday night broke up Ryu’s bid for a perfecto, singled with one out in the second for the Reds’ first hit.