Offense shows life, bullpen falters vs. Reds
Bradley escapes 7th, allows 3 runs in 8th; Escobar, Peralta homer
CINCINNATI -- Archie Bradley is searching for answers. Bradley faltered in a four-run eighth inning that doomed the D-backs in a 6-3 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park on Saturday night in a game that saw them lose a pair of leads.
Bradley was handed a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning after David Peralta clubbed a solo home run in the top half of the inning. Bradley allowed two runners to reach before Tucker Barnhart laced a two-out, two-run double into the left-center-field gap to give the Reds a 4-3 lead.
"Not winning sucks, especially when your team goes out and gives you a lead in the eighth," Bradley said. "It is my job to come in and get through that inning. In the second half so far I have not been doing that, so it has been pretty frustrating."
Bradley is struggling with command, particularly with his curveball, a pitch that was a key component in him compiling a 1.73 ERA in 63 relief appearances in 2017. He has been dealing with a fingernail issue on his right forefinger throughout this season that has caused him to throw the pitch less frequently, but he doesn't place the blame on that.
"I think we all know the issues I have had with my curveball this year," Bradley said. "It has been frustrating, but it is [something] I have to deal with. I have to find a different pitch or throw it more or do something better than what I am doing now."
Bradley was pulled after Barnhart's double. He has a 7.71 ERA in four appearances in August. The Reds added two more runs off of Bradley's successor, T.J. McFarland, on base hits from Billy Hamilton and Joey Votto. Bradley was responsible for three of the four runs in the inning.
"It was simple for me," D-backs skipper Torey Lovullo said. "Archie was our guy. It was a crunch-time part of the game against the meat of their lineup."
Held scoreless for the first 12 innings of this series, Arizona's first runs came in the fourth inning when Eduardo Escobar belted a 2-2 fastball from Reds starter Matt Harvey over the right-field wall for a two-run home run. It was Escobar's 16th homer of the season and his first with the D-backs since being traded from the Twins on July 27.
The blast spotted Robbie Ray a 2-0 lead after he posted three scoreless frames, but he quickly gave it back in the bottom of the fourth inning. Ray plunked Suarez and then Phillip Ervin hit an RBI double into the left-field corner to cut the deficit in half. A Harvey two-out base hit to right field eluded a diving Steven Souza Jr. and tied the game at 2. Ray made it through five innings and gave up two runs on four hits with six strikeouts and two walks as his pitch count eclipsed 100.
"I thought [Ray] was good in spurts," Lovullo said. "The thing that stood out to me was how he was able to limit the damage and keep it a 2-2 game. His back was firmly against the wall in several situations, some he created. When he had to, in typical Robbie fashion, he got out of it."
The D-backs were unable to turn Escobar's homer into any form of momentum to ignite their recently scuffling offense. Harvey rebounded with three scoreless innings and exited the game at the end of the seventh inning. Arizona recorded just two more hits off of Harvey; a Ray double in the fifth and a Nick Ahmed base hit in the seventh.
Peralta's eighth-inning homer was the only other run the D-backs were able to manage as the offense struggled for a third consecutive game. The team has scored three runs or fewer in five of its last six games. Arizona went quietly in the ninth inning against Reds closer Raisel Iglesias.
It was an emotional and frustrating loss for a scuffling Arizona team in the heat of a divisional race in the National League West. Bradley and the rest of the D-backs have looked to Lovullo for guidance in tough stretches.
"Yeah, that is our leader," Bradley said. "When he speaks, we listen. We [can be] sitting here as a first-place team or a game out of first, whatever it is -- up-and-down, in-and-out. Kind of like he told us, it is our time to go. We have an opportunity in front of us. We know what it takes to get there. We went through it last year and we need to [get going]."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bradley escapes seventh, but unable to get out of eighth: Bradley inherited a runner on first when he entered the game with one out in the seventh inning. He got a quick out and then intentionally walked Votto, who came in to pinch-hit, after Hamilton stole second base to put two aboard. Bradley was able to strand both runners by getting Scooter Gennett to fly out to center field.
Bradley was not as fortunate in the eighth inning, however. He got two quick outs on a soft ground ball and a strikeout after he hit Suarez with a pitch to begin the inning, but a four-pitch walk to Curt Casali put the go-ahead run on base and set the table for Barnhart. The Reds catcher worked a full count after seeing six consecutive fastballs. Bradley offered a seventh that was elevated over the outer half and Barnhart made him pay.
"I think when you throw enough pitches to these hitters, it doesn't matter who they are, they start to get the timing of it and square it up," Lovullo said. "I thought [Bradley] mislocated a couple of pitches. The hit-by-pitch played a big factor. There was a lot on the line and he was trying to execute, and couldn't get it done."
Ray picked up his first hit of the season with a double in the fifth inning. It was his sixth career double and his first hit since Sept. 10, 2017.
The D-backs finish the three-game series against the Reds Sunday with Zack Godley (12-6, 4.35 ERA) on the mound at Great American Ball Park. Godley pitched 7 1/3 innings in his last start against the Phillies, allowing two runs on five hits with a walk and seven strikeouts. The right-hander has gone at least seven innings in each of his last two starts. Luis Castillo (6-9, 4.91) gets the nod for Cincinnati, with first pitch set for 10:10 a.m. MT.