McCoy: Reds top Mets on walk-off win

Cincinnati Reds' Mike Moustakas is congratulated after driving in the winning run with a sacrifice fly during the ninth inning of the team's baseball game against the New York Mets in Cincinnati, Tuesday, July 5, 2022. The Reds won 1-0. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

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Cincinnati Reds' Mike Moustakas is congratulated after driving in the winning run with a sacrifice fly during the ninth inning of the team's baseball game against the New York Mets in Cincinnati, Tuesday, July 5, 2022. The Reds won 1-0. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

Rookie Nick Lodolo pitches well in return from injured list

After not recording a single walk-off victory in their first 77 games, the Cincinnati Reds suddenly own two in the last three games — against two of the best teams in baseball.

With Moose calls echoing through Great American Ball Park on Tuesday night in the ninth inning, Mike Moustakas drove a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to center field, producing the game’ only run and a 1-0 Reds victory over the NL East-leading New York Mets.

On Sunday, Albert Almora’s ninth-inning single gave the Reds a walk-off win over the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves.

With the score 0-0, Tommy Pham opened the ninth with a double into the right field corner off Mets relief pitcher Seth Lugo. Tyler Naquin was intentionally walked and Donovan Solano walked on a full count to fill the bases.

And the Moose ended it.

The victory enabled the Reds to make something out of an outstanding pitching performance for 4 2/3 innings from Nick Lodolo.

Then, the much battered and beleaguered bullpen stepped up as Joel Kuhnel, Ross Detwiler, Jeff Hoffman and Hunter Strickland kept the Mets off the scoreboard.

The starting pitching match-up was a pair of pitchers both coming off the injured list and rehab assignments.

It was Cincinnati’s Lodolo against New York’s Mad Max Scherzer.

There were major differences:

Lodolo is a rookie with one major-league win and four MLB starts. Scherzer is a veteran with 195 wins, three Cy Young awards and eight All-Star appearances.

And Lodolo matched Scherzer nearly pitch-for-pitch and when both pitchers had reached their limits the game was a scoreless tie.

Lodolo pitched 4 2/3 innings and gave up no runs, three hits, walked three and struck out eight and left after 90 pitches.

Scherzer pitched six innings and gave up no runs, two hits, no walks and struck out 11. And he did it with only 79 pitches, including 57 strikes.

Lodolo had to work harder than Scherzer. The Mets had a runner on second with one out in the first, but Lodolo struck out Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso.

The Mets had runners on third and second with one out in the second, but the 24-year-old left-handed Lodolo struck out J.D. Davis and coaxed a grounder to the mound from James McCann.

With two outs and nobody on in the fourth, Lodolo hit Eduardo Escobar and walked Jeff McNeil. He escaped again by retiring Davis on a foul pop.

When Lodolo issued a two-out walk in the fifth, he was replaced by Joel Kuhnel and Lindor flied to shallow center.

The Reds had fewer opportunities against Scherzer. Their best chance was in the second, a one-out single by Solano, ending a 0 for 14 skid and a hit by pitch of Moustakas.

That put runners on second and first with one out, but Nick Senzel flied to right and Mark Reynolds took 97 miles per hour fastball on the outside corner.

Brandon Drury had a two-out single in the third and Naquin, fresh off the injured list, had a one-out single in the fourth. Nothing materialized.

Scherzer struck out the side in the fifth and retired the last eight batters he faced, six via strikeouts.

The Reds put their first two batters on base in the eighth against Mets relief pitcher Tommy Hunter. Alas for the Reds, nothing came of it.

Senzel singled and Reynolds walked on a full count. Manager David Bell went old-school and had Michael Papierski bunt.

His first-pitch bunt was a perfect sacrifice, putting runners on third and second with one out.

India, 1 for his last 15 and 10 for his last 65, popped out and Drury flied to right, leaving it 0-0.

Left fielder Pham saved possible disaster in the top of the ninth when he raced to the deep corner and snagged Jeff McNeil’s line drive leading off the inning.

Then came the bottom of the ninth and the walk-off sacrifice fly.

The bullpen? A bully night.

It was Kuhnel (one inning, one hit), Detwiler (one inning, one hit), Hoffman (1 1/3 innings, one hit), Strickland (one perfect inning).

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