KANSAS CITY -- Sal Romano would have loved to get a win for the Reds on Tuesday night, but he still got what he absolutely needed personally vs. the Royals -- a strong performance.
Romano pitched a season-high eight innings, but he didn't get the run support until after he departed the Reds' 5-1 win in 10 innings at Kauffman Stadium. During the top of the 10th, Cincinnati sent nine men to the plate and scored four runs with Joey Votto's bases-clearing triple snapping the 1-1 tie. Eugenio Suarez capped the rally with an RBI single.
"Definitely a good day. A better team win than my performance," Romano said.
David Hernandez pitched the scoreless bottom of the ninth for the victory. In a no-decision, Romano gave up four hits and a walk with two strikeouts. The only run he allowed was on a home run by Hunter Dozier leading off the bottom of the fifth.
The eight innings from Romano set a new season high for Cincinnati that topped Homer Bailey's seven innings vs. the Cardinals on April 15, while Bryan Price was still manager. The last eight-inning start the Reds got was also from Romano on Sept. 16, 2017, vs. the Pirates.
"He trusted his fastball and didn't care who the hitter was," said Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart, who hit the tying home run in the ninth inning. "He was going to go and pitch to his strengths. He was phenomenal. We were out there grinding for him trying to get him some runs. He pitched so well and he deserved that win. Just glad the team came up with a victory today."
According to Statcast™, 64 of Romano's 106 pitches were sinkers -- also known as two-seam fastballs. Upon picking up Jorge Soler's inning-ending double play in the first, Romano enjoyed a stretch where he retired 10 of 11 batters.
"I thought he was aggressive," Votto said. "He seemed to go after guys and pretty much let them know, 'Hey, you guys are going to have to beat me with the barrel.' I thought he threw well today."
Dozier attacked a 94-mph 3-2 pitch up in the strike zone and lifted it into the left-field seats.
"You'd like to think 'don't be the first one to break.' I was the first one to break giving up that solo homer. I wanted to come back and keep throwing zeros," Romano said.
Romano recovered and retired 12 of his last 14 batters. He had 84 pitches through six innings and 93 through seven. But he wasn't looking over his shoulder for interim manager Jim Riggleman, who has had only one pitcher pitcher work into the seventh inning since he took over for Price on April 19.
"I knew it was my game," Romano said. "I really wanted to stay in there. That's what you live for as a starting pitcher, to go the distance. I was really fortunate enough to make some quality pitches and get some ground balls and fly balls, and keep the guys off-balance there. It was a really good day, overall."
How badly did Romano need this start? The right-hander came in 1-4 with a 10.72 ERA (27 earned runs over 22 2/3 innings) in his previous five starts. Overall, he is 3-7 with a 5.67 ERA in 14 starts and knew if things didn't change soon -- he could be in danger of losing his spot in the rotation.
"I was really impressed that he stayed strong on a humid night out here," Riggleman said. "Sal is a sinkerball pitcher and there were a few balls in the air that we made some big plays on. The next step for Sal was to make sure we're getting some ground balls there and really move it along in that direction."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Barnhart's big homer: Royals closer Kelvin Herrera took over for Ian Kennedy in the ninth and blew the save when Barnhart hit a leadoff homer into the right-field bullpen on a 2-2 pitch. It was his third career homer in the ninth inning or later and the first that tied or game his team a lead.
"Just honestly trying to get on base," Barnhart said. "I got to two strikes there pretty quick. At that point, just trying to battle and kind of work the count [and] obviously get on for Joey there. Had a pitch up in the zone and was able to stay through long enough to get it up in the air and get it out of here."
Votto snaps the tie: Following a wild play by Billy Hamilton to avoid a tag in a rundown and load the bases, the Royals had to bring the infield in. Votto followed with his triple through the gap in right-center field. It was his first go-ahead hit in extra innings since a walk-off single on April 8, 2015, vs. the Pirates in the 11th inning.
"You can't hit the ball on the ground there," Votto said. "You can't hit it too shallow obviously. I happened to get a pitch and put a good swing on it"
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Following a Scott Schebler single that put runners on the corners in the top of the 10th, Barnhart grounded to reliever Kevin McCarthy who looked to second base before he fired to the plate as Hamilton broke for home. It started a rundown, but after three throws, Hamilton was somehow able to dodge Alcides Escobar's tag as he scampered back to third base.
"Billy is Billy. That goes down as one of the more crazy things I've seen him do," Barnhart said. "I say it all the time, but I'm glad he's on my team."
Royals manager Ned Yost argued that Hamilton's evasive maneuver took him out of the base line. But the call on the field was not eligible to be reviewed.
"In their judgment, he didn't leave the baseline," Yost said. "I said [to third-base umpire Jeff Nelson], in my judgement, he did. He checked with [home-plate umpire Laz Diaz], and Laz was of the same opinion [as Nelson]. You don't really have much of an argument there. It's not reviewable. I haven't looked at the replay.
"I think there's a lot of things that should be reviewable. There's a lot of things that could go on that reviewable list, yes."
HE SAID IT
"It was so athletic. It's funny, I think one of the reasons I like baseball so much is because we're very much a skill sport, but every now and then you see a guy who could probably be a DB in the NFL or could be a rugby player, could play in the NHL, could fight in the UFC or could do something special, maybe Olympic caliber. He's out here on a ballfield making outstanding plays. That's really the fun part of baseball in my opinion. We get to see it very often because he plays center field for us." -- Votto, on Hamilton's play in the 10th inning
Right-hander Tyler Mahle will make the start as the Reds wrap up their brief two-game series against the Royals at 8:15 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium. Mahle gave up three runs (two earned) with six hits over five innings in a no-decision against the Rockies on Thursday. He hasn't pitched more than five innings in his past three starts. Veteran right-hander Jason Hammel is scheduled to start for Kansas City.