Benson, Candelario key pieces to Reds' bats waking up

May 15th, 2024

PHOENIX – Perky bats, double-digit hit totals and runs scoring. There appears to be a budding revival of the Reds offense. While they came up short the previous few days, it all came together during Tuesday's 6-2 victory over the Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

For a Reds club that had dropped 14 of its previous 17 games and 11 of the last 12 coming in, scoring six runs was a welcome sight. It was the first time since an 8-4 win in Texas on April 27 -- a span of 15 games.

In the previous two games -- both losses -- Cincinnati scored five runs. However, the club is 13-1 this season when scoring at least six runs.

"We knew at some point we were going to start putting things together," said outfielder , who slugged the two-run home run that put the Reds ahead for good in the fifth inning. "The past three days are a testament to how we've been as a unit collectively working hard every day to keep pushing and keep going. I'm happy with what we've done, but we're going to keep going."

It was also the first time that the Reds -- MLB's 29th-ranked team with a .220 average -- put together a double-digit hit total for a third straight game since the first three games of this season.

Few pitchers could savor the support more than Hunter Greene, who delivered seven innings, allowing two earned runs with five hits, one walk and five strikeouts. Cincinnati is 2-7 in nine games when Greene starts -- but scored 15 runs over those seven losses -- including two shutout defeats.

"It's great. Those guys are working hard and doing their best to go out there and put up runs as early as possible," said Greene, who is 2-2 with a 3.27 ERA. "I told the guys before [that] when we punch them in the mouth early, we do a really good job. We've got to try and get to them early with any team and the starters have to stay locked in and focused."

That happened after Arizona took a 2-0 lead against Greene in the bottom of the third inning. In the top of the fourth, after a one-out single by Mike Ford and a double by Tyler Stephenson, Jake Fraley hit a sacrifice fly to center field and came through with the game-tying RBI single.

Candelario was batting .159 after his 0-for-4, four-strikeout game on April 28. Since April 29, he has been batting .347 and is batting .229 with a .702 OPS for the season.

"We knew he was going to come around because of his track record," Reds manager David Bell said. "I think the last 10 days, two weeks, we've seen a very consistent Candy. That's the way this game goes and if our players stay with it and continue to believe in themselves, they have my support. They have our organization's support. All of that is going to come around. He's a great example of a player playing to his ability."

It was a 2-2 game in the top of the fifth inning when Benson lifted Slade Cecconi's 1-0 pitch over the right-field fence for a two-run home run. It was his fifth homer of the season and his first since April 27.

Benson, who is batting .193 with a .681 OPS, has been hitting the ball hard, especially lately.

"It was definitely a relief," Benson said of the homer. "That's my only job -- put together good at-bats and hit the ball hard. It hasn't been going my way, but to see that ball go over the fence definitely made me smile."

After Stephenson and Fraley opened the top of the sixth with back-to-back singles, the Reds kept the inning going with two outs. With Cecconi replaced by lefty Logan Allen, right-handed pinch-hitter Santiago Espinal delivered an RBI single to left field. Another righty pinch-hitter Stuart Fairchild, drove in Fraley with his own RBI single to center field.

The Reds endured a 43-inning stretch earlier this month without holding a lead. At 18-24, they must stay afloat to keep hope alive.

"We've all been trying to stay positive during this time," Stephenson said. "We're all working and I feel like some [games] just haven't really gone our way compared to some of the other games we've been playing. It's a long season. I know everybody is saying that. We're going to be fine. We've got way too many talented people on this roster."