Reds escape in 12th on Scooter's walk-off HR

Mahle flirts with no-hitter through six; Cincy bullpen lets up four runs in ninth

April 24th, 2018

CINCINNATI -- Scooter Gennett already had a home run and a perfectly-executed squeeze bunt on his ledger vs. the Braves on Tuesday. But the Reds' second baseman knew his ninth-inning defensive mistake that led to extra innings would dominate his postgame thoughts if his team lost.
Gennett can rest easier now. It was his two-run homer in the bottom of the 12th inning that lifted the Reds to a 9-7 walk-off win over Atlanta.
"I misread that ball a little bit but you learn. It's the least I could do to make up for it," Gennett said.

Cincinnati had a 5-0 lead through six innings and a four-run lead in the ninth. Reliever Amir Garrett, who replaced Tyler Mahle after Mahle lost a no-hitter and shutout in the seventh, returned for the ninth to try and complete a three-inning save. But Freddie Freeman slugged his second leadoff homer to right field to make it a three-run game.
Garrett gave up a single and double with one out, bringing in Raisel Iglesias for the save attempt. Iglesias, who blew only two saves out of 30 last season and notched all three of his previous chances this season, walked Dansby Swanson to load the bases and issued a two-out walk to pinch-hitter Johan Camargo to force home a run.
Ender Inciarte's two-run single went through Gennett's legs on the right side and brought home the tying runs.

"The ball that was hit to Scooter was a very tough ball to handle," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "If it had been at him at kind of a normal hop, the game is over right there."
Gennett appeared to try playing for a short-hop, but didn't block the ball before it got away.
"We played such a good game up to that point," Gennett said. "In hindsight, maybe I should have played back on it and chested it up or fielded it clean. But it's always easy to say that when you have some time to think. I misread it. Live and learn."
Jared Hughes provided the final 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief to put the Reds in position to take the game back.

Against lefty prospect Max Fried, Joey Votto drew a leadoff walk to begin the bottom of the 12th. That set it up for Gennett, who drove a 1-2 hanging breaking ball into the right-field seats for his second home run of the night and the game-winner. It was the third multi-homer game and first walk-off shot of his career.
"I wasn't really looking for much," Gennett said. "I was just trying not to do too much. He throws a lot of curveballs. Going up there, I don't want to swing at anything that starts outside. That was the first two pitches. I was looking for something up, didn't try to do too much and put a good swing on it. It ended up working out."

In the bottom of the fifth, it was back-to-back home runs by Votto and Gennett that staked Mahle to a 5-0 lead. Freeman ended the no-hit bid of Mahle with a leadoff home run in the top of the seventh inning. Two batters later, Kurt Suzuki added a two-run homer to make it a two-run game.

The Reds responded with two runs in the bottom half, using Gennett's successful squeeze bunt to the left side to score pinch-runner Phillip Ervin and a two-out infield single by Tucker Barnhart that scored Jose Peraza.
"I doubt you'll find too many games where the same guy who squeezed hit two homers," Riggleman said. "But a lot of good things happened."

For the first time in 2018, the 5-18 Reds have back-to-back wins. This one required some work, though, and was even more satisfying in many ways than the previous four victories.
"Obviously where we are right now, it feels a lot better to get those wins. A loss hurts even more," Gennett said.

Home run No. 1 for Votto: With two outs in the fifth and an 0-1 count, Braves starter Brandon McCarthy's 0-1 fastball to Votto was lifted the opposite way and landed in the first row of seats in left field. It gave Votto his first home run of the season and his first since Sept. 27 of last season at Milwaukee. He has reached safely in nine consecutive games.

Striking out the side: In the sixth inning, Mahle struck out Charlie Culberson, Inciarte and Ozzie Albies -- all on 95-mph fastballs -- to give Mahle a career-high 11 strikeouts for the game and put himself in position to return for the seventh inning with 87 pitches.
"I felt great and was able to execute pitches for six innings," said Mahle, who finished with three earned runs, three hits and two walks over his six-plus innings.

"I think tonight showed our team's resiliency. And we're going to need a lot of resiliency with how things started here. We're here to get better and improve right now. Two wins in a row, let's ride that momentum and keep improving, come out tomorrow and win again." -- Hughes, on how the team did not shrink after blowing a big lead
Brandon Finnegan will make his third start of 2018 when the Reds host the Braves at 6:40 p.m. ET Wednesday. This could be a critical start for Finnegan, who faces Atlanta starter Matt Wisler. Finnegan is 0-2 with an 11.05 ERA in his two starts since coming off of the disabled list. With Garrett getting his longest relief appearance on Tuesday, it would not be a big stretch for him to move into the rotation.