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Reds escape bases-loaded jam in 9th, top Rox

Hughes wiggles out of trouble as Cincy wins thriller at Coors Field
MLB.com @m_sheldon

DENVER -- Escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam vs. the Rockies in the ninth inning with a one-run lead was already a tall order for Reds reliever Jared Hughes. Doing it while pitching at Coors Field? It just felt like an impossible task.

But Hughes got out unscathed, aided by some great defense and a little bit of luck as the Reds held on to a 6-5 victory over Colorado.

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DENVER -- Escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam vs. the Rockies in the ninth inning with a one-run lead was already a tall order for Reds reliever Jared Hughes. Doing it while pitching at Coors Field? It just felt like an impossible task.

But Hughes got out unscathed, aided by some great defense and a little bit of luck as the Reds held on to a 6-5 victory over Colorado.

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"They had us right where they wanted us," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said.

Video: CIN@COL: Riggleman on Gennett's performance in win

With Raisel Iglesias on the disabled list, Hughes was tasked with the save attempt, but was in danger of blowing it within four pitches. First, Ryan McMahon reached on a soft chopper to first base and Chris Iannetta smoked a double to left field that put runners on second and third. The pressure intensified when pinch-hitter Carlos Gonzalez walked on four pitches to load the bases with no outs.

A sinker-ball pitcher, Hughes got Charlie Blackmon to ground to first base with the infield playing in. Joey Votto's throw to the plate was in the dirt, but catcher Tony Cruz did an excellent job to recover the ball with his bare hand and touch the plate for the forceout.

"I saw it in the dirt. I just tried to keep it in front of him and pick it up as fast as I could, obviously," Cruz said.

Video: CIN@COL: Peraza crosses the plate on a wild pitch

Getting an 0-1 sinker from Hughes, David Dahl lined a scorcher to the right side. It was hit directly to second baseman Scooter Gennett, who flipped to shortstop Jose Peraza for the double play that retired Gonzalez.

Game over.

"I can look into the future only about five seconds. I was playing [Dahl] perfect there and it ended up working out great," Gennett said. "That's what makes baseball fun. It's always good to get that blood pressure up and down. It's good for the body."

According to Statcast™, the exit velocity on the ball off Dahl's bat was 106.5 mph.

"I thought that was the game-winner … so it was from high to low, real quick," Dahl said.

Hughes could exhale following a thrilling conclusion and his third save of the season.

"I don't know what the odds were, but I'd imagine they're probably not good," Hughes said. "At the same time when our defense plays like that, it makes the odds way better. I'm only as good as my defense and those guys made a couple of great plays out there."

Video: CIN@COL: Cruz crushes a 2-run homer to left field

It was a hard-fought win all the way for Cincinnati, which took the lead three times during the night. With the Reds trailing in the seventh, 4-3, pinch-hitter Scott Schebler led off with a single against lefty reliever Chris Rusin. In a full count, Billy Hamilton hit an RBI triple to plate the tying run and Peraza's RBI single to right field against Bryan Shaw drove in the go-ahead run.

In a 5-for-5 night, Gennett's fourth hit of the game -- a single -- sent Peraza from first to third base. Another run scored on Shaw's wild pitch to Votto.

The Reds' bullpen kept the lead intact. Amir Garrett replaced Michael Lorenzen after a one-out single in the seventh and picked up a double play and a strikeout. David Hernandez started the eighth with a Nolan Arenado double and wild pitch, enabling one run to score on Gerardo Parra's groundout, before retiring the side.

Then it was up to Hughes.

"Dahl hit the heck out of that ball and Scooter was right there," Riggleman said. "It seemed appropriate with the night Scooter had that he would make the play that ended the game. We know we were very fortunate there." 

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Big night for Gennett: In the top of the first inning against Rockies starter Tyler Anderson, Gennett slugged a first-pitch home run to right-center field -- his team-leading 10th of the season. He followed up with four singles to notch the second five-hit game of his career. The last one was June 6, 2017, vs. the Cardinals when he had four homers and 10 RBIs. Gennett is batting .392 (31-for-79) with eight homers and 22 RBIs in the month of May.

Video: CIN@COL: Gennett records 5 hits, turns game-ending DP

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Booking around the bases: In the seventh, Hamilton drove a ball to the gap in left-center field that passed Blackmon. As it rolled to the wall, Schebler scored easily and Hamilton sprinted around the diamond. He appeared poised to try for his first inside-the-park home run, but was held at third base by coach Billy Hatcher with a triple.

"I listen to Hatch and trust his decisions," Hamilton said. "With no outs, I don't want to get thrown out at home for the first out. That would have been pointless. I always want an inside-the-park homer. I feel like it's going to happen. Today might have been the best chance for it to happen. But it's about winning, not me getting an inside-the-park home run."

Video: CIN@COL: Hamilton sprints 30.8 ft/sec on RBI triple

According to Statcast™, Hamilton went from home to third base in 10.39, the fastest time it ever tracked and eclipsing his own record of 10.45 seconds. The sprint speed was 30.8 feet per second.

"Ooooh. That's crazy," Hamilton said when told of his time.

And a good defensive play, too: In the eighth inning, Hamilton also tracked down a line drive to center field by Trevor Story. According to Statcast™, it was a four-star play with a 33 percent catch probability. Hamilton covered 63 feet in 3.8 seconds to get the ball. Hamilton has struggled for much of the season, and is batting .201, but Riggleman wants his defense at spacious ballparks like Coors Field.

"We have to have him out there," Riggleman said. "You see some of the plays he made out there today. Other people just aren't going to make those plays. He's saving us runs out there every day. He's battling to do what he can with the bat and he's sticking a few hits out there."

HE SAID IT
"That was a great job by Jared just sticking with his pitches there. Anytime he's in the game, you have a chance for a ground ball. The first ground ball he got was huge." -- Cruz, on Hughes in the ninth

UP NEXT
Coming off his first victory as a member of the Reds, Matt Harvey will try for another Sunday when the series at Colorado concludes at 3:10 p.m. ET. Harvey pitched six innings with one earned run, three hits, two walks and five strikeouts in Tuesday's 7-2 win over the Pirates. Right-hander German Marquez will make the start for the Rockies.

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

Finnegan voices displeasure over demotion

MLB.com @m_sheldon

DENVER -- Usually when a player is demoted to the Minor Leagues for his performance at the Major League level, he goes down, keeps quiet and goes about working his way back to the big leagues.

Starting pitcher Brandon Finnegan isn't hiding his frustration, however. Finnegan didn't like being dropped from the Reds rotation and sent to Triple-A Louisville on May 10 when Matt Harvey was acquired. He also implied that interim manager Jim Riggleman gave him quick hooks from starts.

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DENVER -- Usually when a player is demoted to the Minor Leagues for his performance at the Major League level, he goes down, keeps quiet and goes about working his way back to the big leagues.

Starting pitcher Brandon Finnegan isn't hiding his frustration, however. Finnegan didn't like being dropped from the Reds rotation and sent to Triple-A Louisville on May 10 when Matt Harvey was acquired. He also implied that interim manager Jim Riggleman gave him quick hooks from starts.

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"I felt like I had two pretty good starts up in Cincinnati," Finnegan told the Cincinnati Enquirer in a story published Saturday. "You can't do anything about getting taken out of the game after 70 pitches. Riggleman loves using the bullpen; that's his thing. That part was out of my hands. Besides that, two of my five starts I had, I thought were pretty good. I was attacking guys."

The numbers don't align with Finnegan's viewpoint. He was 0-3 with a 7.40 ERA in his five starts. In 20 2/3 innings, he gave up 20 runs (17 earned) with 27 hits, 15 walks, 14 strikeouts and five home runs. There also was diminished velocity -- 91 mph according to Statcast™.

Finnegan, 25, made 31 starts with 172 innings in 2016 but was limited to four starts in '17 because of injuries to both shoulders. He opened this season on the disabled list because of a left biceps strain and didn't debut until April 14. He was disappointed he didn't get more time to overcome his struggles.

"It pisses you off, honestly," Finnegan told the Enquirer. "It's like, 'All right, I'm going to show them.' Clearly, they don't have that confidence in me right now, so I'll prove to them that I'm fine. It just took a couple starts, that's all.

"That's how it was with Homer [Bailey], too. It's not bashing Homer at all. Homer was gone for 2 1/2, three years. It's going to take him awhile to get back at it. Everybody understands that with him. I was hoping I'd get kind of the same reaction, but that's fine. I'm not going to make excuses. I'm just going to come down here and do my work."

In two starts since going back to Louisville, Finnegan has given up six runs (four earned) and 10 hits over nine innings with three walks and 11 strikeouts.

Riggleman could tell the lefty didn't like hearing he was being sent down.

"He took the message. We knew he wasn't happy, of course. He didn't say much," Riggleman said on Saturday at Coors Field.

Riggleman declined to address Finnegan's comments.

"Well, you know what? I'm not going to say much about it. I'm biting my tongue," Riggleman said.

One more rehab start for DeSclafani

In his third rehab assignment start on Friday -- and his first for Louisville -- Anthony DeSclafani gave up six earned runs and eight hits over five innings with one walk, eight strikeouts and three home runs. He threw 93 pitches, with 70 strikes.

DeSclafani -- out since mid-March with a left oblique strain -- is eligible to be activated from the 60-day DL on Monday. But Riggleman expected him to get one more start in the Minors.

"There were some disappointing numbers there and there were some numbers that were encouraging," Riggleman said. "His previous one was very strong. This one, he got hit around a little bit. That certainly happens on those rehabs. You never know what's going to happen with those things."

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, Brandon Finnegan

Reds' closing situation fluid with Iglesias out

MLB.com @m_sheldon

DENVER -- When Raisel Iglesias went on the 10-day disabled list with a left biceps strain Tuesday, Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said he'd use matchups to determine who would finish games when leading. That came into play during Thursday's 5-4 win over the Pirates.

Reds lefty Amir Garrett had a chance to go for a seven-out save after entering with two outs in the seventh. He faced three batters in the ninth -- all lefties -- but when Austin Meadows hit a two-run homer with one out and Pittsburgh had right-handers following, Riggleman went to Jared Hughes to get the final two outs and the save.

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DENVER -- When Raisel Iglesias went on the 10-day disabled list with a left biceps strain Tuesday, Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said he'd use matchups to determine who would finish games when leading. That came into play during Thursday's 5-4 win over the Pirates.

Reds lefty Amir Garrett had a chance to go for a seven-out save after entering with two outs in the seventh. He faced three batters in the ninth -- all lefties -- but when Austin Meadows hit a two-run homer with one out and Pittsburgh had right-handers following, Riggleman went to Jared Hughes to get the final two outs and the save.

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"If he had gotten Meadows out, he would have continued. He would have faced [Elias] Diaz," Riggleman said of Garrett. "If he had gotten Diaz out, it would have been Hughes facing [Sean] Rodriguez. When they put in [Gregory] Polanco, he wouldn't have been able to tie it. … Rodriguez is really hitting left-handed pitching well, so I didn't want Amir to face him there."

Garrett, a starter last season who entered with a 2.20 ERA in 23 appearances as a reliever in '18, embraced the chance to work in key situations.

"I love just getting the ball when I'm called upon," Garrett said. "The high-leverage situations, that's always a plus. Those are situations I like to be in. If I'm needed for the third inning, the seventh inning or ninth inning or whatever, I just want to pitch -- that's all."

Bench coach learning the media ropes

Whenever Riggleman speaks to the media postgame, especially at Great American Ball Park, bench coach Pat Kelly is often nearby in the office but you won't see him in camera range or hear his voice. Kelly is just there to listen.

Kelly, who has nearly 30 years of experience coaching and managing on the player development side, was promoted last month from managing at Triple-A Louisville. It came after the Reds reshuffled the coaching staff and Riggleman went from bench coach to replacing Bryan Price as manager on an interim basis.

"In the Minor Leagues when you do a press conference, you've got the beat writer and maybe a news guy and that's about it," Kelly said on Friday. "Here, obviously, there's more [reporters]. I've always been intrigued to see how managers handle that."

Kelly also did the same thing in 2007, when he had a stint as the big league bench coach under then-Reds interim skipper Pete Mackanin. Kelly also is there to be a sounding board and discuss the game with the manager during the cooling-off period before the media can access the clubhouse.

"I just listen to see how they handle everything. It's a big part of the job," Kelly said.

A former big league catcher in 1980 with the Blue Jays, the 62-year-old Kelly has managed at nearly every level in the Reds' system since he joined the organization in 2006. He spent the previous three seasons with Double-A Pensacola and was in his first season with Louisville in 2018.

Managing in the Major Leagues is Kelly's aspiration.

"I'd love to," he said. "That's the ultimate goal for everybody. I've spent 30 years in the Minors as a manager and coach. You want to be at the highest level.

"It's why I go and manage winter ball so often, to get the experience of managing big league players and playing to win every night. You don't always do that in player development."

Would Kelly like a crack at the managing the Reds?

"We'll see. I think Jim is doing a good job," Kelly replied. "You always hope you're a candidate, if there's a position open."

Kelly has enjoyed being at the big league level this season in a clubhouse full of players he had in the lower rungs of the organization.

"That's been really fun," Kelly said. "Most of these guys, I've had somewhere along the line -- whether it's Billings, Bakersfield, Pensacola or even a little bit in Louisville this year. I had Billy [Hamilton] his first year in the Gulf Coast League. So many of these guys, I had them in their first year. You get to see them grow up and become men and obviously, good ballplayers."

Garrett pitched for Kelly at Pensacola in 2016.

"P.K. knows the game," Garrett said. "He's been around a long time. He's one of the people I have the utmost respect for. He knows the game well and when you're not playing it hard or not to his liking, he'll tell you no matter what. It's great having him here. He's another smart individual to have on the bench to help us win ballgames."

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, Raisel Iglesias

Romano squanders early support as Reds fall

Righty's struggles continue in series-opening loss
MLB.com @m_sheldon

DENVER -- While Sal Romano was pitching for the Reds on Friday night vs. the Rockies at Coors Field, Anthony DeSclafani was winding down what was likely his penultimate rehab assignment start for Triple-A Louisville. This is notable because when the Reds are ready to activate DeSclafani, someone will have to come out of their rotation to make room.

Over his last three starts, including during Friday's 5-4 defeat to Colorado, Romano hasn't helped his own cause. In 5 1/3 innings, he gave up five earned runs and eight hits with four walks and five strikeouts. The right-hander was furious with himself, especially because of two walks to Tony Wolters, who came into the game hitting .130. The first one in the third inning came with the bases loaded. The second one, in the sixth, led to the go-ahead run.

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DENVER -- While Sal Romano was pitching for the Reds on Friday night vs. the Rockies at Coors Field, Anthony DeSclafani was winding down what was likely his penultimate rehab assignment start for Triple-A Louisville. This is notable because when the Reds are ready to activate DeSclafani, someone will have to come out of their rotation to make room.

Over his last three starts, including during Friday's 5-4 defeat to Colorado, Romano hasn't helped his own cause. In 5 1/3 innings, he gave up five earned runs and eight hits with four walks and five strikeouts. The right-hander was furious with himself, especially because of two walks to Tony Wolters, who came into the game hitting .130. The first one in the third inning came with the bases loaded. The second one, in the sixth, led to the go-ahead run.

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"Absolutely, you can't walk him. Twice, I did it. It's unacceptable. It cost us the game," Romano said.

Over three starts since May 14, Romano has given up 18 earned runs, 22 hits and 12 walks with 13 strikeouts over only 12 ⅔ innings. That sent his ERA from 3.83 to 5.89 while posting an overall record of 2-6.

"I'm not executing my fastball the way I should. It wasn't sinking as much today," Romano said. "The grip of the ball was cutting a little bit on me. It's fastball location, really. I feel like my offspeed stuff was there. I have to be able to pitch off of my fastball. My sinker has been my pitch the last three years and if I don't have it, it's tough."

Cincinnati staked Romano to leads of 2-0 in the top of the first inning against Jon Gray and 4-1 in the top of the third. Colorado got a two-out solo homer from Nolan Arenado on a 95 mph sinker in the first inning, but Eugenio Suarez's two-run homer in the third gave Romano some room to work.

But after he faced nine batters in a three-run third inning that featured three walks, Romano seemed poised for a quick hook. He gave up a two-run single to Gerardo Parra and a bases-loaded walk to Wolters made it a 4-4 game.

A groove appeared to be found following a pair of one-out hits in the Rockies' fourth. Romano got Arenado to ground into an inning-ending double play and had a nine-pitch perfect fifth inning that had him at 71 pitches.

The Rockies' sixth began poorly for Romano, however, as he walked Wolters for the second time -- on five pitches.

"I was disappointed in the walk in the sixth," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "Hitters love to hit in this ballpark. Guys are going to be swinging and he didn't put anything close enough for him to swing at and ended up walking the guy."

Video: CIN@COL: Schebler plates Votto in the 1st

With one out and Wolters on second base, pinch-hitter Noel Cuevas drove an RBI triple to the right-field corner to give Colorado its go-ahead run.

"I started him out with a slider, away," Romano said. "He stayed on it pretty good and I didn't get it as outside as I wanted to. It was a good pitch for me all day. It got us out of some situations with it and I got some strikeouts. I feel like my stuff, the way I felt, was better than my numbers today. But still, another loss."

As he completes his rehab from a strained left oblique suffered in Spring Training, DeSclafani didn't fare well for Louisville. He gave up six earned runs over five innings while throwing 93 pitches. Despite being eligible for activation on Monday, indications are he will get one more start in the Minors. Making the Reds' decision tougher is Romano isn't the only one not pitching well.

Tyler Mahle has given up eight earned runs over his last two starts, while totaling 9 1/3 innings. Homer Bailey is 1-6 with a 6.21 ERA in 11 starts, putting the club in the tough dilemma of deciding whether it should move a pitcher making $21 million this season into the bullpen.

A good, strong start is the best way to remove any doubt. Romano could have used one of those on Friday.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Suarez stays hot: In the top of the third inning with one out on an 0-1 pitch from Gray, Suarez connected for a two-run homer. It was his ninth homer of the season and second in two days. With 40 RBIs, Suarez now has sole possession of the National League lead. During his four-game hitting streak, he is 6-for-15.

Video: CIN@COL: Suarez clubs a 2-run homer to center field

"Suarez is doing a great job for us and played a good third base again. Suarez is a ballplayer. He's a good one," Riggleman said.

HE SAID IT
"We had a lead. In this ballpark, it was so early that we know we had to add on runs and we didn't. Both clubs actually had chances to add on runs and missed those opportunity. I certainly didn't think it was going to be a 5-4 ballgame. It looked like it had the makings of a 10-8 game." -- Riggleman, on the Reds failing to capitalize on their scoring chances

UP NEXT
Tied with Bailey for most home runs allowed in the National League (13), Mahle could be challenged in the thin air at Coors Field on Saturday when he starts vs. the Rockies at 9:10 p.m. ET. Mahle gave up a career-high three homers for four earned runs allowed over six innings in Sunday's 6-1 loss to the Cubs. Opposing Mahle will be left-hander Tyler Anderson.

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

Barnhart camera angle puts you in the game

A lot of times, cameras are in the line of fire. For example, Giancarlo Stanton smashed a camera on his 53rd homer last season and Dae-Ho Lee had a similar situation happen to him when he cracked a lens on a line drive. And sometimes, they're in the right place at the right time -- like the moments Taylor Davis continuously found the camera. The scenario that played out in Friday's Reds-Rockies game is a bit different -- as it was the camera that found Tucker Barnhart.

3rd career slam gives Suarez some redemption

MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- In the 12th inning on Wednesday, when he had a chance to win the game for the Reds, Eugenio Suarez barreled a line drive to left field with runners on second and third base. It was caught by Corey Dickerson, but the drive was not deep enough for Joey Votto to tag up and score.

The normally easygoing Suarez was visibly upset that he didn't produce. On Thursday, it was Suarez who came through with the biggest hit -- a grand slam -- in the third inning of a 5-4 victory over Pittsburgh at Great American Ball Park. Suarez didn't take a big, booming swing against pitcher Ivan Nova -- and he didn't need to.

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CINCINNATI -- In the 12th inning on Wednesday, when he had a chance to win the game for the Reds, Eugenio Suarez barreled a line drive to left field with runners on second and third base. It was caught by Corey Dickerson, but the drive was not deep enough for Joey Votto to tag up and score.

The normally easygoing Suarez was visibly upset that he didn't produce. On Thursday, it was Suarez who came through with the biggest hit -- a grand slam -- in the third inning of a 5-4 victory over Pittsburgh at Great American Ball Park. Suarez didn't take a big, booming swing against pitcher Ivan Nova -- and he didn't need to.

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"That was a breaking ball down at my foot," Suarez said. "I just tried to put the barrel on it, and I hit it really well. I caught it right as the ball broke. It was really good."

Grand slams mean 40% off pizza

Suarez connected but didn't crush the 2-2 pitch from Nova. The exit velocity, according to Statcast™, was only 95 mph, and the ball traveled a projected 374 feet.

Enough to get the job done and turn a scoreless game into a 4-0 Reds lead.

Video: PIT@CIN: Riggleman on Castillo's outing, Suarez's bat

"Most guys, when they hit home runs, it looks like they took a nice, easy swing, but they squared it up so good that the ball really jumps," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "That ball really carried a long way for a nice, easy swing."

It was the third grand slam of Suarez's career and his eighth home run of the season.

The inning started ominously for Nova when he walked Reds starter Luis Castillo. Following a single on the ground to right field by Jesse Winker and a popout by Jose Peraza, Scooter Gennett hit a soft two-out grounder that was fielded by Nova. His throw, which went wide and was ruled an error, left everyone safe and extended the inning.

Video: PIT@CIN: Gennett reaches on Nova's throwing error

That opened the door for Suarez with the bases loaded.

"I always try to help my team when I have those situations," said Suarez, who was signed to a seven-year, $66 million contract during Spring Training. "I try to put a really good swing on it. I never try to do too much. I just try to drive in the closest one; this one was the guy on third base. I just tried to drive one in. God blessed me with four, and I'll take it."

Despite his missing 16 games this season with a fractured right thumb, Suarez's 38 RBIs have him tied with the Cubs' Javier Baez for the National League lead. He's hit six homers with 31 RBIs in 26 games since being activated from the disabled list.

"He's been really clutch for us," Riggleman said. "We just keep running him out there. He's a heck of a player."

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, Eugenio Suarez

Castillo keeps rolling behind slam to beat Bucs

Adjustments paying off for right-hander after rough open to season
MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- The season did not begin well for Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo. He lost four of his first six outings, but has started to find his footing. The latest evidence of that came in a 5-4 win over Pittsburgh at Great American Ball Park that gave the Reds two of three games in the series.

Castillo pitched six innings and gave up two earned runs on four hits with two walks and five strikeouts on Thursday afternoon. Although his record stands at 4-4 with a 5.34 ERA in 11 starts overall, he is 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA over his last four starts.

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CINCINNATI -- The season did not begin well for Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo. He lost four of his first six outings, but has started to find his footing. The latest evidence of that came in a 5-4 win over Pittsburgh at Great American Ball Park that gave the Reds two of three games in the series.

Castillo pitched six innings and gave up two earned runs on four hits with two walks and five strikeouts on Thursday afternoon. Although his record stands at 4-4 with a 5.34 ERA in 11 starts overall, he is 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA over his last four starts.

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"I guess the adjustment -- and working as hard as I can work," Castillo said via translator Julio Morillo. "When you have that kind of start of the season, mentally you're just prepared to go and work hard on the things you're supposed to work on."

Shortly after new pitching coach Danny Darwin took over with manager Jim Riggleman last month, he noticed Castillo had dropped his arm angle somewhat. He wasn't getting on top of pitches, causing them to be moving flat across the plate and getting hit hard.

After an extra-inning game on Wednesday night, Riggleman acknowledged before Thursday's game that his taxed bullpen would benefit greatly from a lengthy outing from Castillo, and he provided just that.

"He's getting closer," Riggleman said. "We want him to end up being a seven-inning-plus guy. He's not quite there yet, but he's really making progress at refining his whole repertoire of pitches. He's another tough challenge for hitters in the league."

Riggleman noted Castillo likely would have gone deeper into the game if his spot in the batting order had not come up with the Reds trying to add to their lead in the sixth. Instead, Joey Votto pinch-hit for him.

After a quick first inning, Castillo put himself in a two-on, no-outs jam to start the second by walking Colin Moran and issuing a base hit to Austin Meadows, but managed to escape the threat unscathed. He induced an Elias Diaz groundball to Jose Peraza for a 6-4-3 double play and got Sean Rodriguez to chase an 0-2 changeup in the dirt to strand Moran at third base.

Video: PIT@CIN: Castillo K's Rodriguez, strands a runner

The bulk of Castillo's run support came on one swing in the third inning when Eugenio Suarez launched a grand slam over the left field wall. Suarez's third career slam was his eighth homer of the season.

Video: PIT@CIN: Suarez opens the scoring with a grand slam

Castillo retired 12 of the next 13 batters he faced after the threat in the second inning as he located all four of his pitches.

"He was establishing inside with his fastball and throwing that slider and changeup away," Meadows said. "Pretty decent command, he started to lose it toward the end there, but yeah, he was good."

A one-out walk to Adam Frazier and a David Freese two-run homer in the sixth proved to be Castillo's most costly mistakes.

"I made a mistake and [Freese] did what he was supposed to do with a mistake," Castillo said.

The Pirates mounted a late rally in the ninth. After a Corey Dickerson single, Meadows launched a two-run shot off Amir Garrett with one out. Jared Hughes came in and thwarted the comeback by quickly recording the final two outs.

Video: PIT@CIN: Hughes induces a flyout to earn the save

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Suarez makes Nova pay: When Suarez clobbered a 2-2 curveball into the left-field seats in the third to spot the Reds a four-run lead, it made Ivan Nova pay for a couple of self-induced mistakes. Nova walked Castillo on five pitches to begin the inning and then yielded a single to Jesse Winker. Scooter Gennett's swinging bunt dribbled down the first base line and Nova fielded it cleanly, but his throw to first sailed high and wide of Freese toward foul territory. All three runners were safe and Suarez pounced on the opportunity four pitches later. He said he was able to get out in front and barrel the ball up right as it broke towards his foot.

Video: PIT@CIN: Gennett reaches on Nova's throwing error

"I feel great after that one," Suarez said. "It was a really good hit with the bases loaded. Everybody called grand slam. I feel happy after that because I helped my team win and that is the most important thing."

Winker gets first homer of '18: Winker provided a crucial insurance run with his first home run of the year in the fifth. Nova offered a knee-high fastball on the inner half and Winker sent it well over the wall in left-center. It traveled 414 feet and came off the bat at 105 mph, according to Statcast™.

Video: PIT@CIN: Winker slugs a solo homer to center field

"It feels good obviously," Winker said. "I am just trying to keep on going, put the barrel on the ball and produce a tough at bat. That is really it. This month of May, I have had some bad luck, but you just keep going."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Reds first baseman Brandon Dixon recorded his first career hit on a sharply hit ball through the right side in the fourth. He followed it up with another single and a double into the right-center gap in the eighth, completing a 3-for-4 day.

Video: PIT@CIN: Dixon gets 1st 3 MLB hits in front of family

HE SAID IT
"He's a beast. He is awesome. It is great having him hit behind you, that is for sure. It seems like every time I get on, he drives me in. Hopefully we can keep doing that. It has been fun to watch. He is an incredible guy on and off the field. He is a very easy guy to root for and I benefit because I get to learn a lot from a guy like that." -- Winker, on Suarez

UP NEXT
The Reds head west for a nine-game road trip beginning with the Colorado Rockies on Friday. Sal Romano gets the ball coming off an outing in which he was tagged for seven earned runs on six hits and six walks in a loss to the Cubs. Votto will be glad to see the confines of Coors Field. In 28 career games there, he's batting .353 with six home runs and 22 RBIs. Jon Gray will get the ball for the 8:40 p.m. ET start for the Rockies. He is 4-6 with a 5.34 ERA.

Brian Rippee is a reporter for MLB.com.

Cincinnati Reds, Luis Castillo

Lorenzen aces first test in tight spot vs. Bucs

Top prospect Senzel fielding, taking BP without issue after bout with vertigo
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen couldn't wait to pitch again in a high-leverage game situation and was pumped about making his season debut on Wednesday night against the Pirates. Lorenzen had been on the disabled list since mid-March with a strained teres major muscle near his right shoulder.

In what ended up as a 5-4 loss for Cincinnati in 12 innings, Lorenzen came on to pitch the top of the 10th inning of a 4-4 game. According to Statcast™, his fastball averaged 96 mph, but he was hitting as high as 98 mph on the radar gun. The right-hander notched two routine outs and nearly retired the first three batters he faced, getting ahead of Sean Rodriguez with a 1-2 count.

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CINCINNATI -- Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen couldn't wait to pitch again in a high-leverage game situation and was pumped about making his season debut on Wednesday night against the Pirates. Lorenzen had been on the disabled list since mid-March with a strained teres major muscle near his right shoulder.

In what ended up as a 5-4 loss for Cincinnati in 12 innings, Lorenzen came on to pitch the top of the 10th inning of a 4-4 game. According to Statcast™, his fastball averaged 96 mph, but he was hitting as high as 98 mph on the radar gun. The right-hander notched two routine outs and nearly retired the first three batters he faced, getting ahead of Sean Rodriguez with a 1-2 count.

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"I was feeling pretty good, but then I tried to get too cool out there with a 1-2 count," Lorenzen said on Thursday morning. "I felt myself overthrow, got into a 3-2 count and it cost me like an extra 10 pitches rather than just putting him away."

Rodriguez drew a walk after looking at two fastballs and a slider for ball four. Josh Harrison followed by hitting a first-pitch slider for a single to put Lorenzen in a jam. But he got out of it with a David Freese groundout to second base.

"We'll learn from that one," Lorenzen said. "I know how much we're being used, so pitch efficiency is probably the most important. That will be an adjustment I'll make."

In the bottom of the 10th with two outs and a runner on first base, interim manager Jim Riggleman lifted Lorenzen for pinch-hitter Tony Cruz -- the last man on his bench. Lorenzen, who has two career home runs, would normally be allowed to hit for himself in that situation.

"I've been taking batting practice about every day in the Minor Leagues," Lorenzen said. "I feel good. I think they just wanted to get the first one out of the way. I understand that, but now that I've gotten my first one out of the way, [Riggleman] is going to be more open to use me however he needs to."

Lorenzen slugged a pinch-hit home run for the Reds on April 6, 2017, vs. the Phillies, that snapped a tie and led to a win. He loves getting to bat.

"I've begged them to do that," Lorenzen said.

Rainey remains cool, throws heat

In his big league debut for the Reds on April 10 at Philadelphia, reliever Tanner Rainey allowed four runs when he gave up a grand slam to Scott Kingery. Rainey gave up three runs, three hits and three walks in his second game two days later against the Cardinals before he was sent back to Triple-A Louisville.

Rainey was recalled Wednesday and pitched in a tight jam against the Pirates. After Homer Bailey left in the sixth inning with two runners on, Rainey walked his first batter, Harrison, but struck out Gregory Polanco and Francisco Cervelli and got a grounder to the mound from Josh Bell.

Video: PIT@CIN: Rainey gets out of huge jam in the 6th

"As to why that was different than the first time, maybe a little less jitters," Riggleman said on Thursday. "He probably had some jitters last night, but a little less than the first time."

Rainey's fastball averaged 98.7 mph and twice topped out at 99.5 mph, according to Statcast™. He also featured a very nasty 91-mph slider.

"Last night, I thought after getting behind in the count he collected himself, challenged hitters and threw strikes," Riggleman said. "He had a really devastating slider to put hitters away with."

Senzel update

Reds top prospect Nick Senzel, who is working way back from dealing with vertigo, has been at the team's player development complex in Goodyear, Ariz. Senzel, ranked No. 1 in the Reds system and No. 6 overall by MLBPipeline, has been taking groundballs and batting practice without issue. At some point, when cleared, Senzel will play in games at extended spring camp.

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, Michael Lorenzen

After late comeback, Reds can't put away Bucs

Gennett homers as Cincy erases 4-run deficit, but missed opportunities prove costly
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- The Reds seemed poised to have what might have been a memorable comeback win Wednesday over a contending Pirates club amid a rough season. Not only was Cincinnati burned in extras by the rulebook during a 5-4 loss in 12 innings at Great American Ball Park, it also couldn't take advantage of some wide-open chances.

A two-out RBI triple by Cincinnati native Josh Harrison in the top of the 12th inning proved to be the difference, and it foiled the Reds after they battled back from a four-run deficit.

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CINCINNATI -- The Reds seemed poised to have what might have been a memorable comeback win Wednesday over a contending Pirates club amid a rough season. Not only was Cincinnati burned in extras by the rulebook during a 5-4 loss in 12 innings at Great American Ball Park, it also couldn't take advantage of some wide-open chances.

A two-out RBI triple by Cincinnati native Josh Harrison in the top of the 12th inning proved to be the difference, and it foiled the Reds after they battled back from a four-run deficit.

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"That was a great ballgame, a great effort by everybody involved. Unfortunately, we have to say that in a losing cause," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said.

Controversy arose in the bottom of the 11th inning. With Jose Peraza on first base following a leadoff walk against Steven Brault in a 4-4 game, Brandon Dixon dropped a perfect bunt in front of the plate. Catcher Francisco Cervelli's throw hit Dixon on the back and Peraza went to third base on what appeared to be an error. However, Dixon was called out for interference, as the umpires ruled he didn't stay in the runner's lane to first base, instead running inside the baseline when he was hit by the throw.

Video: PIT@CIN: Dixon called out for running in baseline

"In my head, I was just running down the line like normal. I wasn't trying to stay inside. I wasn't trying to stay outside," Dixon said. "The ball actually hit me on the right shoulder so it wasn't even close. They called it. It's part of the rules."

Peraza was sent back to first base. Instead of a good chance to win with runners on the corners and no outs, the Reds had a man on first and one out. Jesse Winker was hit by a Brault pitch with two outs to put Peraza in scoring position, but Tucker Barnhart struck out to end the rally.

Video: PIT@CIN: Brault K's Barnhart to end the 11th

The Reds didn't think they were wronged by a bad call, but they felt they were wronged by the rule itself.

"It's a bad rule, but it's always been the rule," Riggleman said. "When you bunt the ball, you've got to get yourself inside that lane there. It's just almost impossible for the baserunner to do that. When you take a swing and/or bunt, you come out in that direction, and you're automatically inside the line. They got the rule right, but it's unfortunate. That one didn't go our way."

There was a chance to overcome the missed opportunity. Leading off the bottom of the 12th against Kyle Crick, Joey Votto hit a double to the right-field corner. Scooter Gennett followed with a lined single to center that put runners on the corners. Eugenio Suarez then lined out to left field, not deep enough for Votto to tag up and score.

"Suarez hit the ball very well, but [it was] a low line drive," Riggleman said. "The outfielder got in good position and was relatively close there. It was unfortunate. Suarez hit it on the barrel and had nothing to show for it."

Peraza drew a two-out walk to load the bases for the rookie Dixon, who grounded out to shortstop to end the game, snapping the Pirates' four-game losing streak.

Trailing, 4-0, in the sixth, the Reds scraped back into the game. Against Pirates starter Chad Kuhl, Gennett hit a first-pitch fastball for a two-out home run to right field.

Good bullpen work from Tanner Rainey and Jackson Stephens enabled Cincinnati to stay in striking distance. In the bottom of the eighth, after Gennett's one-out walk loaded the bases against Michael Feliz, Suarez lifted a sacrifice fly to left field. When Pittsburgh turned to lefty closer Felipe Vazquez for the four-out save, pinch-hitter Alex Blandino added a two-out RBI single that scored Barnhart.

Video: PIT@CIN: Blandino hits an RBI single to left

Peraza then battled Vazquez before hitting the game-tying RBI single to center field.

Video: PIT@CIN: Peraza ties the game with an RBI single

Reliever Dylan Floro gave the Reds a scoreless top of the 11th after a two-out double. In the 12th, Austin Meadows hit a leadoff double but was erased by a fielder's-choice comebacker to Floro off the bat of Jordy Mercer. With two outs, Harrison hit his triple to right field, and Mercer chugged around the bases. He scored just ahead of Gennett's throw with a slide that narrowly evaded catcher Barnhart's tag attempt.

Video: PIT@CIN: Harrison lines go-ahead triple in the 12th

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rainey escapes jam: Rainey, who was recalled from Triple-A Louisville earlier in the day, turned in two scoreless innings. It included Rainey working out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth in relief of starter Homer Bailey after he walked Harrison as his first batter. Rainey struck out Gregory Polanco and Cervelli before getting a comebacker from Josh Bell.

Video: PIT@CIN: Rainey gets out of huge jam in the 6th

SOUND SMART
According to Statcast™, Bailey came into the night as one of the hardest-hit pitchers in baseball. Of 61 starters who had faced at least 150 batted balls in play, Bailey's 46.3 hard-hit rate (a 95-mph exit velocity or higher) was the third highest. But the Pirates did not clobber the ball against him Wednesday. Their average exit velocity on contact against him was 81 mph, which is tied for the best he has had since last season. There were five hits of soft contact (less than 95 mph), and the only extra-base hit he allowed was Cervelli's two-run homer to left field in the top of the first inning.

Video: PIT@CIN: Bailey gets out of big jam in the 4th

"I got a few strikeouts when I wanted them, and for the most part, that is just kind of the way it goes," said Bailey, who allowed four earned runs on 10 hits in five-plus innings. "A hanging slider beat us in the first. Outside of that, we had few walks, and we were really trying to pitch around a few guys in a few situations. That was just a good baseball game, and they got the better of us in this one."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
None of the Pirates hits vs. Bailey were softer than the bunt single by Kuhl that scored Meadows -- from second base -- in the top of the sixth. Suarez charged aggressively from third base and the ball got past him to no man's land in the infield. Before Bailey could retrieve the ball behind Suarez, Meadows scored to make it a 4-0 game.

Video: PIT@CIN: Kuhl lays down perfect bunt for RBI single

"He bunted it right there between me and Eugenio," Bailey said. "I could kind of see it out of the corner of my eye. I thought he had it, and he was really close to getting it. It was just one of those weird plays."

HE SAID IT
"I wasn't going to pitch him any further, but to have his bat in there was certainly a consideration. I wanted to get him in and out of there one time tonight, not swinging the bat or anything to tweak something. I was glad he was able to give us a clean inning there in the 10th." -- Riggleman, on his decision to have his last bench player, Tony Cruz, pinch-hit for good-hitting reliever Michael Lorenzen in the bottom of 10th inning and flying out. Lorenzen made his season debut in the top of the 10th.

UP NEXT
The Reds will close out a seven-game homestand with the series finale against Pittsburgh at 12:35 p.m. ET on Thursday. Luis Castillo will take the mound for Cincinnati. In his last start, Castillo pitched five innings against the Cubs and gave up one run on six hits, but did not factor in the decision in the Reds' walk-off win in extra innings. Ivan Nova (2-4, 4.79 ERA) will get the ball for the Pirates. The game will be televised on MLB Network.

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

Reds place relievers Iglesias, Brice on DL

Lorenzen activated, Rainey brought up to replace arms
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- The Reds got one reliever back from the disabled list on Wednesday but lost two more bullpen assets to injury -- including a big one in closer Raisel Iglesias. That will force interim manager Jim Riggleman to choose his closer for each game based on matchups.

Iglesias was placed on the 10-day DL due to a strained left biceps in his non-pitching arm. Right-hander Austin Brice also went on the DL with a mid-back strain. Both stints are retroactive to Sunday. To replace them, Michael Lorenzen was activated from the DL and Tanner Rainey was recalled from Triple-A Louisville.

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CINCINNATI -- The Reds got one reliever back from the disabled list on Wednesday but lost two more bullpen assets to injury -- including a big one in closer Raisel Iglesias. That will force interim manager Jim Riggleman to choose his closer for each game based on matchups.

Iglesias was placed on the 10-day DL due to a strained left biceps in his non-pitching arm. Right-hander Austin Brice also went on the DL with a mid-back strain. Both stints are retroactive to Sunday. To replace them, Michael Lorenzen was activated from the DL and Tanner Rainey was recalled from Triple-A Louisville.

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"Iglesias' left biceps has been bothering him for some days," Riggleman said. "It's just tender, and he feels like it's really affecting him. As he extends out with his front arm to deliver the pitch, he's a little tentative. Rather than continue to deal with it, we're just going to DL him and bring Rainey in."

On May 9 vs. the Mets, Iglesias had to reach high to catch a ball and appeared to be in discomfort coming off the field. It didn't appear to affect him on the mound until Saturday, when he blew his second save (in 10 tries) in Game 1 of a doubleheader vs. the Cubs. A scoreless streak of 9 1/3 innings over 10 appearances for Iglesias ended when he gave up two earned runs and three hits, including a solo homer by Ian Happ to lead off the eighth inning.

In 20 appearances, Iglesias has a 2.08 ERA with a 0.92 WHIP and eight saves. Riggleman noted that Jared Hughes, Amir Garrett, Wandy Peralta and Lorenzen are all closer options until Iglesias returns. David Hernandez is also a former closer.

Brice has a 4.68 ERA over 25 innings across 21 games. Following a stretch in which he was quite effective, he has given up a run in four of his last five appearances.

"He's pitched through it and got a lot of treatment," Riggleman said. "He's pitched effectively, but it's lingering. That's basically the way we made room for Mike."

Video: ATL@CIN: Brice gets Acuna Jr. looking to start 6th

Lorenzen, who worked around a hit and a walk to pitch a scoreless inning in the Reds' extra-inning loss Wednesday, had been out since mid-March with a strained teres major muscle near his right shoulder. He completed a rehab assignment Sunday with Double-A Pensacola after he worked four scoreless innings over three outings.

Rainey gave up seven earned runs over two innings in two outings for the Reds earlier this season. With Louisville, he has a 2.04 ERA in 17 2/3 innings over 14 games. He pitched well in his return to the bigs, striking out three in two scoreless innings Wednesday.

Video: PIT@CIN: Rainey gets out of huge jam in the 6th

"We can't go in there with people -- maybe they can go, maybe they can't -- and if they do go, they have to be very limited. We need to have a full crew of people in there," Riggleman said

Hughes loves ground balls

Signed to a two-year contract in the offseason, Hughes has been a strong addition for the Reds' bullpen. He entered Wednesday tied for third in the National League with five double plays induced. According to FanGraphs, he's 11th in the NL with a 58.6 percent ground-ball rate.

Hughes is able to induce grounders often because he has an effective sinker that he throws 73 percent of the time, according to Statcast™.

"In my dream world, I would come in and throw three pitches and get three ground balls every inning," said Hughes, who entered with a 1.30 ERA in 23 appearances. "I'm trying to get ahead in the count and keep the ball on the ground. I trust the defense. Without them, I'm nothing."

Video: CIN@SF: Hughes coaxes DP to work out of a jam

Hughes has picked up ground-ball double plays in each of his last three appearances. Finishing Tuesday's 7-2 win with six pitches over one scoreless inning, he replaced Peralta after a leadoff single in the ninth. Hughes got pinch-hitter Jose Osuna to smoke a grounder to shortstop Jose Peraza for a 6-4-3 double play. Osuna's ball had a 100.1 mph exit velocity, according to Statcast™.

Hughes makes use of the Statcast™ metrics available to all players and has an idea where hitters are going to hit grounders against his sinker. That helps him form a plan going into the at-bat.

"I try to memorize all of it. Execution is the key," he said. "It's way easier to know where to throw it than to actually throw it there. I try to memorize everything -- exit velocity, ground-ball rates -- so when I am out there, it's a language I don't have to think about. I just kind of speak it."

Hughes got two more groundouts while pitching a scoreless ninth in a tie game Wednesday night.

DeSclafani pitching at Louisville on Friday

Starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (strained left oblique) was in the Reds' clubhouse Wednesday after returning from two rehab starts in Pensacola. He will next pitch on Friday at Louisville. In his Sunday start for Pensacola, he threw 76 pitches over five innings.

"It's going well," DeSclafani said. "I was very encouraged by my last outing. It is probably the best I have felt in a while. The ball is coming out of my hand really well, and I was throwing strikes."

DeSclafani is eligible to be activated from the 60-day DL on Monday but could get another rehab start after Friday.

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, Austin Brice, Raisel Iglesias

Harvey (6 IP, 1 ER) wins Reds home debut

MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- Matt Harvey admitted there have been times when he's wondered if he'd ever record another big league win. He can rest easy now. The right-hander dealt six innings of one-run baseball, scattering three hits with two walks and five strikeouts on Tuesday night to earn his first win with Cincinnati in a 7-2 victory over the Pirates.

"There have been some tough times in the last couple of years for me," Harvey said. "It was good to get the first one out of the way."

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CINCINNATI -- Matt Harvey admitted there have been times when he's wondered if he'd ever record another big league win. He can rest easy now. The right-hander dealt six innings of one-run baseball, scattering three hits with two walks and five strikeouts on Tuesday night to earn his first win with Cincinnati in a 7-2 victory over the Pirates.

"There have been some tough times in the last couple of years for me," Harvey said. "It was good to get the first one out of the way."

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