McCoy: Lodolo adjusts, stymies Padres in 5-2 Reds’ win

Nick Lodolo’s second pitch Monday night landed in Petco Park’s left-field seats, a home run by San Diego Padres leadoff hitter Jurickson Profar.

Then the Cincinnati Reds precocious left-hander walked the first two batters in the second inning and it looked as if Lodolo was flirting with a short, disappointing night.

Looks can be deceiving.

After the two walks, pitching coach Derek Johnson visited Lodolo on his work turf, and after the visit, the Padres might as well have left their bats in the rack because they were useless.

Lodolo struck out the next three after the two walks and no other San Diegan sniffed first base. Lodolo retired 18 in a row, 11 via strikeouts.

Offensively, the Reds used an extravaganza of extra base hits in the first three innings against Matt Waldron, MLB’s only knuckleball pitcher, en route to a 5-2 victory.

It was a fifth straight loss for the Padres and Lodolo’s seven innings of near perfection was followed by a perfect eighth by Fernando Cruz and a shaky ninth by Alexis Diaz.

Lodolo said Profar’s quick home run was an alarm clock.

“He definitely jumped on it and it kind of kick started me a little bit,” Lodolo told Bally Sports Ohio.

“The second inning. . .two walks, that can’t happen,” he said. But it did. At that point it was either sink or swim.”

It was the Padres who sank and drowned.

“Derek Johnson came out and we got it back together and the rest of the way we rolled,” Lodolo added. “Ever since the mound visit I had it fine. I had a sinker working and a change-up to keep ‘em off.”

And what did Johnson say to him?

“Get back in rhythm,” said Lodolo. “I was going a little too fast and he slowed me down and even after the inning he said, ‘Get back in rhythm, get back in rhythm.’”

Lodolo had every pitch talking and the Padres flailed at pitches as if swatting at insects and missing.

“My fastball was working up at the top (of the zone), which was essential and on my curveball I was definitely spinning the ball well,” he said.

Lodolo is 3-0 and the Reds have won all four of his starts.

The Reds grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first when Elly De La Cruz crushed a 443-foot home run to dead center, his eighth. Coupled with his 17 stolen bases, De La Cruz is the only player in MLB history to hit eight homers and steal 17 bases in one month.

The Reds took a 3-1 lead in the second with a pair of runs. Nick Martini, 3 for 30, singled. Jeimer Candelario, 0 for 19 with 12 strikeouts, doubled Martini to third.

Santiago Espinal lofted a sacrifice fly for a run and Candelario walked home on Waldron’s balk.

The Reds made it 4-1 in the third on doubles by Will Benson and Spencer Steer, 2 for 28 at the time.

They tacked on a run in the ninth on an RBI single by Espinal, his second RBI of the night.

After near perfection all the way, with two outs in the ninth and 23 straight Padres retired, closer Diaz and De La Cruz made it interesting.

With two outs and nobody on, Jake Cronenworth doubled and Manny Machado singled him home.

Xander Bogaerts hit what should have been the third out, a grounder to shortstop De La Cruz. But De La Cruz threw the ball as if trying to make a hole in a brick wall and threw it over first baseman Candelario’s head.

That put runners on third and second and a home run would tie it. It ended quietly when Diaz struck out Ha-Seong Kim, the 14th Padre to strike out.

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