CINCINNATI -- Before injuries wiped out his entire 2017 season and the first two months of 2018, Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani could often be counted on for consistency and deep starts. DeSclafani's current three-start stretch has shown it's something he's more than capable of doing.
During a 2-1 Reds victory over the Giants in 11 innings at Great American Ball Park on Friday -- a game settled on Phillip Ervin's walk-off home run -- DeSclafani set the tone for his club with another good performance in a no-decision. He allowed one earned run on six hits over a season-high 7 2/3 innings with one walk and five strikeouts. In doing so, he became the first Reds starter to pitch at least seven innings in three consecutive starts since he achieved that feat from Aug. 21-Sept. 2, 2016.
"In today's world, you never expect even the Cy Young guys to consistently go seven [innings]. It just doesn't happen anymore," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "You average out how far guys go in a game, it's going to be in the five-plus area. When you get to [Max] Scherzer or [Clayton] Kershaw, you might have a couple guys with seven.
"He's really throwing the ball well. Knock on wood, this is the best I've seen it coming out of his hand since I've seen him in '15."
DeSclafani has allowed two earned runs, 15 hits and two walks while striking out 16 over the last three starts (21 1/3 innings) for a 0.83 ERA.
"I didn't get off to the start I wanted to once I got off the DL. It's nice to string together some starts," said DeSclafani, who is 6-3 with a 4.12 ERA in 13 starts this season. "Three starts before this run, I wasn't getting out of the fifth inning, or even the fourth. There are ups and downs during the season. You never know which game will start a good roll. That game against Washington [on Aug. 4] was the start of a good roll. I'll ride it as long as I can."
DeSclafani opened the top of the third inning by allowing a double to Steven Duggar for the Giants' first hit. Duggar scored the tying run on Andrew McCutchen's RBI single into center field, but DeSclafani proved stingy from there. Following Brandon Belt's leadoff hit in the fourth inning, he retired 13 of the next 14 hitters, including 11 in a row.
The third time through the lineup -- which has often derailed starts for Reds pitchers this season -- was where DeSclafani really buckled down against San Francisco. He retired all eight hitters in order that he saw the third time with six outs coming on ground balls. Much of the contact vs. the right-hander throughout the game was weak. According to Statcast™, the average exit velocity against DeSclafani's 38 four-seam fastballs was 81.8 mph, and it was 73.4 mph off his 41 sliders.
"I know McCutchen hit a ball hard and Duggar hit one pretty hard down the line, but other than that, he had all of his stuff working," Reds catcher Curt Casali said. "We had to only throw maybe two curveballs and maybe five or six changeups. I'd say it was 70 percent fastballs. He did a great job."
DeSclafani was allowed to hit for himself with two outs in the sixth at only 72 pitches.
"He was out there for it, because I wasn't going to try and depend on a two-out hit from a pinch-hitter there," Riggleman said. "He was throwing too good to come out of that game unless really the odds said we would score a run."
The Reds lineup, which was outscored 31-9 in the previous four losses, racked up nine hits off Giants starter Casey Kelly in his 4 1/3-inning start. But eight of the hits were singles, and Kelly surrendered just one run on Casali's RBI single that scored Tucker Barnhart. After DeSclafani exited with two men on and two outs following Alen Hanson reaching on a strike three in the dirt, the bullpen picked him up.
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Jared Hughes got Buster Posey to ground into a fielder's choice to end the eighth. Raisel Iglesias delivered two scoreless innings on two hits and three strikeouts. And David Hernandez picked up the win with a perfect top of the 11th, punching two strikeouts.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Ervin walks it off: Batting leadoff in the top of the 11th inning, Ervin tattooed a 1-1 slider from Ray Black to the deepest part of the ballpark. As he ran to first base, he watched it land near the batter's eye for the first walk-off hit of his career. The victory snapped Cincinnati's four-game losing streak.
"The last one to come to my mind was against Auburn in college, my sophomore year," said Ervin, who played for Samford University in Alabama. "It's 10 times better [in the big leagues], I guess. So many people watching and stuff like that. It's just a great feeling. I'm overwhelmed. I'm very excited about it. I'm sure my phone is blowing up right now, people want to talk about it. I don't know. It's just great."
Hamilton batted at the top of the order for Cincinnati for the first time since April 26 and snapped an 82-game streak of starting in the ninth spot. His first-inning single extended his season-high hitting streak to nine games.
HE SAID IT
"He's been throwing the ball well. He's coming off a good start, and he's got good stuff. He's got velocity, he's got secondary pitches and command and he did a good job." -- Giants manager Bochy, on DeSclafani
The Giants-Reds series continues at Great American Ball Park at 7:10 p.m. ET on Saturday, when Matt Harvey (5-7, 5.19 ERA) will take the mound for the Reds against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner (4-4, 2.71). Harvey is coming off a superb outing one week ago, when he turned in seven innings for the first time with the Reds. He allowed two earned runs, five hits and one walk with seven strikeouts as the Reds beat the D-backs, 6-3.