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Dominant DeSclafani deals Reds past D-backs

Righty fans season-high 9 in 7-plus innings; Suarez, Hamilton come through at plate
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Because things were going so smoothly on the mound for Anthony DeSclafani vs. the D-backs, the Reds starter's most exciting moment on Friday night came as a baserunner. DeSclafani got to hustle from first base to third on a Billy Hamilton suicide squeeze bunt, and then score on a throwing error on the play during a 3-0 win at Great American Ball Park.

"It just happened that the ball went into right field down the line, and I was just hauling," DeSclafani said. "When I saw [third-base coach Billy] Hatcher waving his arms, I was like, 'Damn, this is kind of fun. Just don't miss the bag,' which is what I honestly was trying to do."

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CINCINNATI -- Because things were going so smoothly on the mound for Anthony DeSclafani vs. the D-backs, the Reds starter's most exciting moment on Friday night came as a baserunner. DeSclafani got to hustle from first base to third on a Billy Hamilton suicide squeeze bunt, and then score on a throwing error on the play during a 3-0 win at Great American Ball Park.

"It just happened that the ball went into right field down the line, and I was just hauling," DeSclafani said. "When I saw [third-base coach Billy] Hatcher waving his arms, I was like, 'Damn, this is kind of fun. Just don't miss the bag,' which is what I honestly was trying to do."

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Video: ARI@CIN: Reds plate 2 on Hamilton's bunt single

As a pitcher who worked into the eighth inning, DeSclafani didn't miss either, as his command was spot on and the contact was mostly weak. In his seven-plus innings, he gave up three hits with no walks and a season-high nine strikeouts.

"When you have a guy with a good arm like that and is locating, it is going to be a long day," D-backs right fielder Steven Souza Jr. said.

DeSclafani faced one over the minimum through the first seven innings and retired a stretch of 19 out of 20 and 10 in a row before Souza's single leading off the eighth forced him from the game.

"He was really good," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "That's a good lineup over there. That's a first-place ballclub. They've got to win games and just a really tough lineup with a lot of good professional hitters. Anthony was up to the task."

Video: ARI@CIN: Riggleman on DeSclafani's 7 scoreless in win

No Reds pitcher has gone as deep into a game this season as DeSclafani without allowing a walk. It was the first time he's worked at least seven innings in back-to-back starts since he did it in three consecutive starts between Aug. 21-Sept. 2, 2016. In his previous start last Saturday at Washington, DeSclafani gave up one earned run and six hits over seven innings.

"I would say I felt way better today than I did last start in Washington," DeSclafani said. "I thought my stuff was way better. I had a good amount of stuff working today, [more] than I did last start. I'll grind every inning. I feel like the ball is going my way a little bit in these last two starts."

Using a nearly even distribution of his four-seam fastball, sinker and slider among his 94 pitches, DeSclafani did not allow Arizona to square up. According to Statcast™, the average exit velocity against DeSclafani was 83.5 mph on the fastball, 75.5 mph on the sinker and 76 mph on the slider.

Video: ARI@CIN: DeSclafani, Riggleman on scoreless start

"I felt like I was staying out of the middle of the plate for the most part and mixing up just enough," DeSclafani said. "Obviously, I trust Tucker [Barnhart] back there a lot. I was just trying to execute."

Having allowed three runs and eight hits over seven innings, Clay Buchholz didn't have as clean a line. But the D-backs' righty was able to match DeSclafani with zeroes through the first five innings.

Leading off the Reds' sixth, Jose Peraza hit a single into center field. When Joey Votto followed with a soft single into center, Peraza hustled to third base, which proved important when the next batter, Eugenio Suarez, lifted a high sacrifice fly to the warning track in left field for his 88th RBI, tying him for the National League lead.

Video: ARI@CIN: Suarez plates Peraza with a sacrifice fly

Once Riggleman pulled DeSclafani after the Souza hit in the eighth, reliever Jared Hughes gave up a one-out single to bring the tying run to the plate. But Hughes induced an inning-ending double play from Alex Avila to escape. In the ninth, closer Raisel Iglesias pitched around a Paul Goldschmidt double to lock down his 22nd save.

Video: ARI@CIN: Iglesias strikes out Pollock for 22nd save

"I think really the play of the game was DeSclafani's pitching. That really set the tone for everything," Riggleman said. "Buchholz was outstanding. Anthony was outstanding. Just great pitching. That was old-fashioned baseball, two guys locked up in a good ballgame."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Perfect bunt: With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Buchholz allowed a double to Barnhart and a single to DeSclafani to put runners on the corners. In a 3-1 count, Hamilton surprised Arizona with a perfectly executed suicide squeeze bunt as Barnhart broke for the plate. Buchholz rushed to field the ball on the lip of the grass by the first-base line and rushed a throw that went into right field. The error allowed DeSclafani to score and Hamilton to take second base, as Cincinnati opened a three-run lead.

"Earlier in the count, I thought about doing it, but I was a little concerned about a pitchout maybe," Riggleman said. "Once we got a three-ball count, I was more confident that he would get something he could put down."

Hamilton was pleased with how he dropped the bunt while not trying to run out of the batter's box.

"I didn't want to leave whoever was coming from third in a bind," Hamilton said. "That shows me right there that I can -- if I just stay there and put the ball down and put it where I want to put it at -- I can still make things happen without trying to run out of there so fast. … Today was an example that I've got to take in and actually practice more of actually bunting the ball first, and then run."

HE SAID IT
"It's great. You just know he's coming in there throwing strikes, you know he's hitting all his spots. Every pitch is working for him. I've always said it's fun playing behind Disco. It's just something -- you know he's going to come in and give you what he's got, he's going to be the best he can every time out there and he throws a lot of strikes. That's the main thing." -- Hamilton, on DeSclafani

UP NEXT
Matt Harvey will take the mound for the Reds against Arizona's Robbie Ray when the series continues at 6:40 p.m. ET on Saturday at Great American Ball Park. Harvey is winless in his last three starts and has been hit hard in two of those three. Last time out, he lost to the Nationals after giving up five earned runs and nine hits in four-plus innings. Harvey is 3-1 with a 3.52 ERA in five career starts vs. the D-backs.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Anthony DeSclafani, Billy Hamilton, Eugenio Suarez