CINCINNATI -- Finally, Tyler Mahle was rewarded.
Generally considered to have pitched well enough to win at least a couple of times this season, the Reds right-hander logged his first win on Saturday in a 4-0 victory over the Dodgers before a crowd of 31,156 -- the season’s second-largest showing at Great American Ball Park, and the largest since Opening Day.
The win was Mahle’s first in 14 starts since beating the Cubs last July 6, but he never got frustrated. He figured the law of averages was on his side. The Reds were 1-7 in his previous eight starts.
“That’s just the way it is,” the 24-year-old right-hander pointed out. “We’ve had some games where, if I’d just pitched a decent game, we might’ve won.
“We stuck to the game plan, and I also had a couple of quick innings, which helped,” he added. “I was pretty confident the whole game, but you can’t let up against that lineup."
One of the keys, he said, was his control, even on pitches that didn’t go as planned.
“I think my misses were good,” he said. “I wasn’t missing down the middle. I was missing in and I was missing up, which was the game plan."
“His fastball was running in on us, and [he was] beating us with the fastball in,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We took some good swings against him. He just found a way. Not a bunch of punch."
Three slumping Reds played key roles in Cincinnati’s offense.
Jesse Winker led off the second with his first home run since May 5 -- he’d been in a 3-for-25 slump in his last seven games entering Saturday. Tucker Barnhart’s first hit in 14 at-bats led off a three-run third, and he scored on shortstop Corey Seager’s throwing error on what appeared to be a routine forceout at second. And former Dodger Yasiel Puig snapped an 0-for-8 stretch with a two-out, two-run single.
Puig didn’t gain any extra satisfaction from logging a key hit against his former team. The Reds acquired the right fielder from the Dodgers in a multiplayer deal in December.
“I was only happy to get a hit,” said Puig, who hadn’t reached base since his 10th-inning walk-off single against the Cubs on Wednesday. “The night before, I did nothing. I struck out three times. I finally got a hit, and that made me feel better.”
The Reds clinched at least a .500 homestand against two division leaders -- the other team being the Cubs -- and can go 4-2 with a win in Sunday’s finale.
“It feels like we just continue to get better,” manager David Bell said. “We’re doing the small things to win the close games. We’re finding ways to get better.”
Mahle, who took a 3.97 ERA into the game, survived a 28-pitch third inning and worked six innings, allowing just four hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He also hit Austin Barnes.
“You can’t say enough about Mahle,” Bell said. “The way he prepared against that great lineup was really impressive. We’ve won when he’s pitched, but to get an actual win is well-deserved.”
Relievers David Hernandez, Amir Garrett and Raisel Iglesias teamed up to complete the Reds' sixth shutout win of the season.