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Mahle struggles in 4th and Reds can't recover

MLB.com @m_sheldon

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tyler Mahle lost Tuesday night's game for the Reds against the Giants in the fourth inning. But trouble was brewing for Mahle well before, as he labored in the earlier innings.

In the shortest start of Mahle's brief career, San Francisco's four-run fourth inning was the turning point that sent the Reds to a 5-3 loss at AT&T Park. The rookie right-hander was done after 3 1/3 innings with four earned runs, seven hits, one walk and two strikeouts while throwing 86 pitches.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Tyler Mahle lost Tuesday night's game for the Reds against the Giants in the fourth inning. But trouble was brewing for Mahle well before, as he labored in the earlier innings.

In the shortest start of Mahle's brief career, San Francisco's four-run fourth inning was the turning point that sent the Reds to a 5-3 loss at AT&T Park. The rookie right-hander was done after 3 1/3 innings with four earned runs, seven hits, one walk and two strikeouts while throwing 86 pitches.

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"The Giants were making him throw a lot of pitches," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "He was getting 2-2, 3-2 counts, foul ball, foul ball. They were making him work really hard. They had some good at-bats, even though he was getting the outs."

Video: CIN@SF: Riggleman on Mahle's start, loss to Giants

Indeed, five Giants batters reached three-ball counts over the first three innings. His fastball -- his bread-and-butter pitch, normally -- was not effective. He used it 63 times in the game, according to Statcast™.

"I think it was because I was missing my spots," said Mahle, who is 3-5 with a 4.34 ERA in nine starts. "I was having trouble, especially on the lefties, going up and in."

The Reds staked Mahle to a 2-0 lead in the third inning against pitcher Ty Blach on a two-run home run by Eugenio Suarez, and it was 3-0 in the top of the fourth after Billy Hamilton's two-out RBI single scored Tony Cruz. But the advantage crumbled quickly for Mahle in the bottom of the fourth.

Video: CIN@SF: Hamilton flares an RBI single to center

First, Mahle's 89 mph 1-0 fastball up and over the plate to Brandon Belt was clobbered for a leadoff homer to right field with a splash into McCovey Cove. Mahle missed the spot on that pitch, as well.

"A fastball up and in, it ran over the plate a little bit," Mahle said. "It was up and caught too much of the plate and he turned on it."

Three straight singles followed from Evan Longoria, Brandon Crawford and Austin Jackson to load the bases with no outs. Mahle was able to strike out Kelby Tomlinson before the Giants boldly pulled Blach for pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval. With a single slashed into left field, Sandoval drove in two runs and finished Mahle's night.

Video: CIN@SF: Belt crushes a homer into McCovey Cove

Mahle was sick for a few days leading up to his outing, but said it didn't affect his performance. Riggleman wasn't as sure.

"As the game went on, his velocity was getting better. He assured me he was fine to pitch," Riggleman said. "I was concerned he was 88, 89 [mph]. The second inning, he threw a lot of 88s. Next thing you know -- as he can do -- he revved it up. He didn't get up there to 95, 96 but he was throwing considerably harder when he needs to. His slider didn't have any depth. They were fouling that off."

Amir Garrett took over and first batter Gregor Blanco lined a single off of his glove to reload the bases. Garrett got Andrew McCutchen to ground to third base for a potential inning-ending double play, but Suarez's throw to Scooter Gennett was low, slowing the second baseman's ability to throw to first base. McCutchen was safe, scoring Jackson with the go-ahead run.

Garrett provided 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in his latest strong appearance. In the eighth, reliever David Hernandez gave up two hits that included a two-out RBI single by Tomlinson.

Video: CIN@SF: Garrett strikes out Blanco, the side in 6th

Following a six-game winning streak, the Reds dropped the first two games of their three-game series vs. San Francisco. Rough starts for Sal Romano and Mahle have been largely the difference. With three young starters in the rotation, also including Luis Castillo, Riggleman realized that there will often be inconsistency, but still remained bullish about the pitching.

"I think we're really going to do well with these guys. I really like those three young guys put out there with the veterans, Homer [Bailey] and [Matt] Harvey," Riggleman said. "Our fans get tired of hearing it. We certainly don't expect our fans to be patient. We're not asking for patience. But we got to believe in these guys. They're very talented. We're going to win ballgames with those guys."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Suarez goes deep: In the top of the first inning, Suarez jammed his right ankle into second base as he scampered back following a Gennett single. He was looked over by the trainer, but was able to stay in the game. His next time up in the third, Suarez turned on a 2-0 Blach pitch for his seventh homer of the season. In his last 19 games since coming off of the disabled list April 26, Suarez has five homers and 23 RBIs.

Video: CIN@SF: Suarez smashes a 2-run homer in the 3rd

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Hamilton did it again on defense. He made a spectacular diving catch to rob Longoria of a hit to begin the bottom of the eighth inning. It was rated as a five-star catch by Statcast™ because it had just a 16 percent catch probability. Hamilton covered 58 feet of ground in 3.6 seconds.

Video: CIN@SF: Hamilton lays out for terrific 5-star grab

HE SAID IT
"I'll tell you what, we had some great performances, period. Amir Garrett was outstanding. Billy made great plays in center field, Suarez swinging the bat. We just really, we had some great performances, we just came up short." -- Riggleman

UP NEXT
Following a superb four-scoreless-inning debut following his trade from the Mets, Harvey will make his second start for Cincinnati when the series vs. the Giants concludes at 3:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Andrew Suarez will oppose Harvey for San Francisco. In three previous starts against the Giants, Harvey is 0-2 with a 5.68 ERA.

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, Billy Hamilton, Tyler Mahle, Eugenio Suarez