CINCINNATI -- For the second straight game, the Reds endured a no-hitter scare on Tuesday while facing a rookie Cardinals starting pitcher. Reds starter Homer Bailey has two no-hitters on his resume but has been a long way from those types of games he worked in 2012 and '13.There have
CINCINNATI -- For the second straight game, the Reds endured a no-hitter scare on Tuesday while facing a rookie Cardinals starting pitcher. Reds starter Homer Bailey has two no-hitters on his resume but has been a long way from those types of games he worked in 2012 and '13.
There have been three elbow surgeries and plenty of struggles for Bailey since then. But amid a 4-2 loss to the Cardinals in 11 innings at Great American Ball Park, there was something about the veteran right-hander that lacked for much of 2018 -- optimism.
"That was one of the best starts we have had from anyone all year," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said of Bailey.
While Austin Gomber took a no-hitter into the seventh, Bailey produced 6 2/3 quality innings of his own to keep his team in the game. He gave up two earned runs and five hits while walking two and striking out eight. Ultimately both pitchers' performances were rendered moot in no-decisions. William Fowler's two-run homer off of Reds reliever Amir Garrett decided the game and left Bailey not too excited about his own performance.
"I'd rather get a win," said Bailey, who threw 115 pitches in his first start for Cincinnati since May 28. "Amir's been so good for us all year. Just a rarity to see him give up the home run.
"We had a couple of pitches working that we were able to get some swings and misses on. Really there were only a few that they did damage on."
Bailey carried a 6.68 ERA over 12 starts into the game, with the Reds losing 11 of those. He was about to be demoted to the bullpen after his previous start but instead went on the the disabled list for seven weeks with right knee inflammation. A seven-game rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville followed along with questions of whether Bailey would return to the club as a starter or reliever. Although there was an attempt to have him pitch in relief for Louisville, the Reds decided Bailey would start.
A big reason for his success on Tuesday vs. St. Louis: Of the 26 batters he faced, he threw 21 first-pitch strikes.
"I think that's something you're taught in A-ball: Try to get ahead," Bailey said. "Once you get ahead, you can expand the zone. You like to think the hitters will chase."
According to Statcast™, Bailey's fastball velocity was solid, averaging 94.6 mph and topping out at 95.9 mph. He coupled that with some effective sliders and opened the game by striking out the side in the top of the first inning. Bailey gave up a leadoff double to open the second inning and a two-out walk, but escaped without damage.
In the fourth inning, Paul DeJong hit a screaming liner that backed up Billy Hamilton in center field. The ball went in and out of Hamilton's glove for a double. DeJong scored the game's first run on a one-out RBI single from Jose Martinez.
Including a Tommy Pham double play to end the fourth, Bailey retired nine of 10 batters before he gave up a two-out walk to Fowler in the seventh. After Fowler stole second base, Yairo Munoz lined an RBI double for a 2-0 lead, bringing an end to Bailey's evening.
"He threw a lot of strikes," said third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who tied the game with a two-run home run off Gomber in the seventh. "He mixed breaking balls and fastballs, touching 96. He had good strikeouts. It's nice for us to give you that more comfort and everybody believes in him. He's back strong, and we needed him. I think he's back healthy, and he will be all right."
Riggleman felt optimistic about what he got from Bailey.
"The way [Matt] Harvey was throwing four or five starts in a row, then Homer does that," he said. "Two veteran guys throwing well like that, that's very encouraging. We look forward to running him out there again. Hopefully, he takes that stuff out there."
Garrett took over after Raisel Iglesias worked two scoreless innings. Pham hit a one-out single before Fowler pulled a 1-0 fastball from Garrett into the right-field seats for his eighth homer of the season, which evened the series heading into the rubber game on Wednesday.
"It's over now," Bailey said of his return. "I'll go back tomorrow and look at the mistakes and things we did right. We're kind of at the halfway point with All-Star break here recently. You keep plugging away."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Fire alarm cools Gomber? During the seventh-inning stretch, fire alarms sounded at Great American Ball Park and brought the game to a halt until they could be turned off by the Cincinnati Fire Department. It resulted in a roughly 7 1/2-minute delay and forced Gomber to idle except for some warmup pitches. After play resumed, Votto lined a one-out single for the Reds' first hit, then Suarez knocked his two-run homer.
"First time I've seen that in my life," Suarez said. "It's crazy, but I like it because it's good for us. We broke up the no-hitter, and we tied the game in that inning."
Between Daniel Poncedeleon and Gomber, the Elias Sports Bureau says that the Cardinals are the first team to have rookie starters not allow a hit over the first six innings in consecutive games since the 1964 Kansas City Athletics did it with Blue Moon Odom and Bob Meyer.
HE SAID IT
"Same thing [as] yesterday, I try to win all my at-bats. He missed that changeup in a hitter's count, and I just, like I always say, put a barrel on it, hit it hard to the middle and find a hole. To hit a homer and tie the game, it was a really good game, exciting game like yesterday. This time, we didn't win, but we battled all the time." -- Suarez, on his home run
Video: STL@CIN: Suarez ties game with 2-run home run in 7th
Sal Romano (5-8, 5.19 ERA) will make his first start of the second half as the Reds go to a rare sixth man in their rotation vs. the Cardinals at 12:35 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Romano hasn't pitched since July 15, when he tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings in a relief appearance at St. Louis. His previous start came in a 7-4 win over the Indians on July 10, when he survived a 4-0 deficit through two innings and lasted 7 1/3 innings. Right-hander Jack Flaherty (4-4, 3.15) will be the Cardinals' scheduled starter.
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.