Reds take lead in 9th but can't hold on in loss

August 24th, 2022

PHILADELPHIA -- The Reds were poised for a feel-good win in their challenging season in the ninth inning on Tuesday vs. the Phillies. But almost as quickly as they took a lead, they gave it back right away.

A missed cut-off throw for an error by center fielder Nick Senzel let the tying run score in the bottom of the ninth against top reliever Alexis Díaz. Two batters later, pinch-hitter Nick Maton came through with a walk-off RBI single that sent Cincinnati to a 7-6 loss at Citizens Bank Park.

"The way we played, it would have been a great game to win," Reds manager David Bell said.

In a game in which starting pitcher Nick Lodolo carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, Cincinnati trailed 5-3 after seven innings before scoring in the top of the eighth to make it a one-run deficit.

One out from a loss in the top of the ninth inning against Phillies left-handed reliever Brad Hand, lefty hitter TJ Friedl gave the Reds a 6-5 lead with a two-run triple to right-center field. Friedl had entered the game as a pinch-runner at third base for Donovan Solano during an eighth-inning rally but was left stranded.

Without the right-handed Solano available, Friedl hit for himself and came through.

“Just a great at-bat. It’s something he’s been working on," Bell said. "He actually worked on it all day today. That’s what it’s all about. He comes up with a chance to win the game, off a good lefty, and he prepared for it and he came through with just a great at-bat. Those little things, you can’t take anything away from those plays. It would’ve been great to win the game because of that."

Díaz, who entered Tuesday with a 0.63 ERA in 13 games since the All-Star break and hadn't been charged with a run in eight August appearances, blew the save soon after he opened the bottom of the ninth by walking Jean Segura.

“Even when he got into trouble there, I think we all believed he was going to find a way to pitch out of it," Bell said. "Next time he’s in that situation, he’s going to. He’s that good."

Pinch-hitter Bryson Stott crushed a 1-1 Díaz pitch to right-center field and appeared to have a walk-off home run, but the ball hit off the top of the wall and bounced fair. Senzel retrieved it at the warning track and fired a throw over two cut-off men. The ball trickled through the infield as Segura scored the tying run. Third baseman Alejo Lopez had to abandon his spot to retrieve the errant throw, which allowed Stott to take third base.

"I didn’t really see, obviously, what the runners were doing," Senzel explained. "Getting confirmation after the game, I guess they thought it was a homer, a walk-off, so my thought was Segura already scored, so I was just trying to get it in as quick as I could. It’s for sure a double, probably a triple. In the moment, I’m pissed, but looking back on it, that was my intent."

Replays showed Segura not running at full speed from first base.

"I just saw they threw the ball away. There was nobody there," Segura said. "I just took advantage and scored. Pretty simple. The game is sometimes simple. Sometimes it isn't. I took the opportunity and I scored."

Bell and Senzel discussed the play shortly after the game.

"A lot happening right there," Bell said. "We want our guys trying to make plays. The tying run is on, the winning run is at the plate. I haven’t taken a close look at it yet, but in my mind, he was trying to play it off the wall as quick as he could and get it into the infield. Our infielders, I believe, were lined up to the plate. He threw the ball over their head.”

While trying to secure his place on the club for 2023, Friedl has gotten more playing time in the corner outfield spots with Aristides Aquino struggling and Albert Almora Jr. on the injured list.

Since his promotion from Triple-A Louisville one week ago, Friedl is 7-for-19 (.368) with hits in six of his seven games. Tuesday's clutch hit was another positive sign but reduced to a footnote for the game's outcome.

"I wanted that [win] for TJ," Senzel said. "I thought he came up in a big spot to do what he did off a lefty to bring those two in. I wanted it for him. It just didn’t happen. It’s frustrating."