McCoy: Reds’ bullpen can’t hold lead in loss to Giants

When Tejay Antone is not available, the Cincinnati Reds bullpen is as vulnerable as baby birds in a nest.

And Antone was not available Tuesday night against the San Francisco Giants after pitching 3 2/3 innings Monday night.

So when starter Luis Castillo turned a one-run lead over to the bullpen in the sixth inning it became a crap shoot. And it came up snake eyes for the Reds.

Sean Doolittle and Carson Fulmer combined to give it up, two runs in the sixth and a run in the seventh that turned into a 7-6 defeat.

The first inning looked as if the game might devolve into a beer league softball slugfest.

Four home runs flew out of Oracle Park in the first inning, two by each team. The park is 21 seasons old and that was the first time four homers were hit in the first inning.

It began in the top of the first after Nick Castellanos singled. Joey Votto followed with his second home run in two games, this one the opposite way into the left field bleachers.

Nick Senzel walked on four pitches and Mike Moustakas crushed one into McCovey Cove. Before this series, no Cincinnati hitter in 21 years had hit a splashdown into San Francisco Bay.

Then Joey Votto did it Monday and Mike Moustakas said if Votto can do it, so can I.

The Moustakas homer gave Castillo a 4-0 lead before the Giants came to bat. But in the blink of the swing of two bats it was 4-4.

Tommy La Stella opened the bottom of the first with a single and Mike Yastrzemski homered. With two outs, Evan Longoria singled and Brandon Belt homered to tie, 4-4. Belt was 0 for 6  with three strikeouts before ending that futile stretch.

The Reds cruised in front in the second, scoring a run with two outs and nobody on. Jesse Winker walked and Winker sprinted all the way around on a Nick Castellanos double into the left field corner.

From there, both Castillo and San Francisco starter Kevin Gausman, a former Cincinnati bullpen member, settled in and pitched as advertised.

Castillo retired eight straight until La Stella singled with one out in the fifth. Yastrzemski pushed a bunt up the third base line against the shift to put two on with one out. Castillo escaped when he started a 1-6-3 inning-ending double play.

Gausman, though, was even better. He retired the final 13 batters he faced through the sixth inning.

Castillo was replaced in the sixth by Doolittle and the second hitter he faced, Evan Longoria, clubbed a game-tying home run to make it 5-5.

But the Giants weren’t finished in the sixth. Buster Posey singled and Fulmer replaced Doolittle. Pinch-hitter Austin Slater tripled the deepest, darkest depth of center field to push the Giants ahead, 6-5.

Former Reds relief pitcher Wandy Peralta replaced Gausman in the seventh and the Reds tied it in a bizarre way.

Jonathan India toured the bases in an unusual way. He topped a slow roller down the third base line and third baseman Longoria let it roll. It stayed fair for an infield single.

Peralta balked India to second and gave him third on a wild pitch. Tucker Barnhart blooped one in shallow center, an easy out. Not this time. Shortstop Brandon Crawford and second baseman LaStella collided and the ball plopped to the grass as India scored to tie it, 6-6.

Reds relief pitcher Cionel Perez did the unthinkable in the seventh. He walked the first two Giants and it cost the Reds a run. Perez got a fielder’s choice for an out and Lucas Sims was summoned, looking for a strikeouit. But Wilmer Flores hit a deep sacrifice fly to center field and the Giants took a 7-6 lead.

The Reds faced soft-tosser Tyler Rogers in the eighth, a submariner who features 70 mph curveballs and 80 mph alleged fastballs.

Castellanos struck out, Votto struck out, Eugenio Suarez doubled and Moustakas struck out.

Down a run in the ninth, India drew a one-out walk from closer Jake McKee. But the potential run died at second and the game died with it when both pinch-hitter Aristides Aquino and Tyler Stephenson took called third strikes.

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