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Romano labors, Reds' bats quiet in Game 2 loss

MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Until three starts ago, Reds right-hander Sal Romano was in a groove, often working efficiently, establishing his fastball, diversifying his pitches and having some success. That guy has been missing his last two outings, however.

Romano worked hard through all five of his innings as the Cubs rolled to a 10-0 victory over the Reds in Game 2 of Saturday's day-night doubleheader at Great American Ball Park. The teams split the twin bill, as Cincinnati claimed a 5-4 win in 11 innings in Game 1.

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CINCINNATI -- Until three starts ago, Reds right-hander Sal Romano was in a groove, often working efficiently, establishing his fastball, diversifying his pitches and having some success. That guy has been missing his last two outings, however.

Romano worked hard through all five of his innings as the Cubs rolled to a 10-0 victory over the Reds in Game 2 of Saturday's day-night doubleheader at Great American Ball Park. The teams split the twin bill, as Cincinnati claimed a 5-4 win in 11 innings in Game 1.

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"He's not where he was a few weeks ago when he was making some headway," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "Now he's really having to battle through it, and he's doing that. He's giving his club a chance to win, but it's been a little struggle for him."

While throwing 98 pitches, Romano gave up a career-high seven earned runs, with six hits, six walks (one intentional) and six strikeouts. The Cubs sent nine men to the plate against him during a five-run fifth, and their leadoff batter reached against the righty in all five of his innings -- three times via a walk.

"Fastball control wasn't there all game," said Romano, who threw 54 two-seam fastballs according to Statcast™. "Off-speed stuff was really there today -- had a really good cutter, the slider thing or whatever that I have really been working lately, curveball was good, and I threw some good changeups. But the fastball location was brutal. When you walk six guys in the big leagues, you are going to get hurt."

Since a stretch of five starts in which he had a 2.33 ERA, Romano has given up 13 earned runs in his last two games, including a career-low 2 1/3-inning start with six earned runs Monday in a 10-7 Reds loss at San Francisco.

"He's just throwing a lot of pitches to get through an inning," Riggleman said. "Not just Sal, but they are seeing our starters the third time through the lineup in the fourth and fifth inning. That's not a good recipe for success. If they get that many looks at you, they're eventually going to get you."

Video: CHC@CIN: Romano escapes a jam with a lineout to left

Romano was able to get away unscathed the first two innings. In the third, Ben Zobrist led off with a single and later scored from third on a fielder's-choice grounder off the bat of Kris Bryant. In the fourth, Ian Happ -- who homered in Game 1 -- hit a first-pitch fastball over the middle of the plate for a leadoff homer to right field.

"Sometimes I fly open too much, but I really worked hard this week to try to stay with that," Romano said. "I was just missing a few spots, and obviously with runners on. I [allowed] some hits, a hit-and-run and stuff like that, but was able to work out of it."

Then came the rough and tedious top of the fifth inning. Zobrist, who led off five different innings in the game, drew a walk to begin the frame and Bryant reached with a one-out walk. Both runners scored easily on Anthony Rizzo's double to the right-field corner. Following a two-out intentional walk to Happ, Romano walked Addison Russell to load the bases.

When Jason Heyward skied a fly ball toward the right-field line, second baseman Scooter Gennett made a long run and beat right fielder Jesse Winker to the ball. Despite his great effort, Gennett could not glove the ball, and it skipped away for a three-run triple and a 7-0 Cubs lead.

Video: CHC@CIN: Heyward loops a triple that clears the bases

"That was an extraordinary effort by Scooter," Riggleman said. "I think Wink must have broke back on the ball, because that's his ball. Scooter went a long way to get it. That's kind of a momentum-changer there."

Cubs starter Jose Quintana didn't need the extra cushion, as he took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and pitched seven dominant innings. Scott Schebler got the Reds' first hit with a one-out single to right field in the fifth. No Reds batter got past second base all night, as Cincinnati (16-31) was shut out for the sixth time this season.

HE SAID IT
"It seemed like [Zobrist] was on base all the time, whether it was a walk or a hit. [Tommy] La Stella hurt us. Their big guys, too; Rizzo and Bryant were swinging it well. It was a tough challenge. It's a good lineup. They've thrown pretty good starts against us between [Jon] Lester, [Kyle] Hendricks and Quintana." -- Riggleman, on the Cubs

Video: CHC@CIN: Riggleman on facing a tough Cubs lineup

UP NEXT
The Reds will look to earn a split of the four-game series against the Cubs on Sunday at 1:10 ET, with Tyler Mahle getting the start. The right-hander is coming off a loss in San Francisco, in which he gave up four earned runs on seven hits in a career-low 3 1/3 innings. He'll go up against Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish, who is making his second start following a 10-day DL stint due to flu-like symptoms.

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, Sal Romano