The Cincinnati Reds continue to be baseball’s best team in the first inning.
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The Reds fell behind the Los Angeles Angels 3-0 in the first inning Tuesday but tied the game in the bottom of the inning on a home run by Eugenio Suarez and a two-run home run by Jose Iglesias and went on to win 8-4, sweeping the two-game series at Great American Ball Park and splitting the season series after losing two games to the Angels on the road in June.
The Reds lead Major League Baseball in first-inning runs scored (96) and home runs (34) and have outscored their opponents 96-59 in the inning. They’re 28-7 when leading after the first inning.
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“I guess it’s kind of on par with what we’ve done all season,” said Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart who hit solo home runs in the sixth and the eighth to give the team a cushion late in the game. “The stats say we’re the best first-inning team in the league. In this case, we were down, but usually we haven’t been and we’ve been getting on top of people early. It’s a great feeling.”
The victory moved the Reds (54-58) to four games under .500 for the first time since July 6 when they were 41-45. They trail the Chicago Cubs by 6½ games in the Central Division and sit 4½ games back in the wild-card race.
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Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani allowed four earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked three. His ERA moved from 4.07 to 4.20.
After the Reds got back into this game with two home runs in the first, they took the lead with a solo home run by Aristides Aquino in the fourth. It was the second home run in six games for Aquino, who was promoted from Triple-A Louisville last week.
“He’s playing great,” said bench coach Freddie Benavides, who filled in for manager David Bell, who served the final game of his six-game suspension. “His confidence is up. David, all of us together, feel he has to be out there.”
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The Reds added two more runs in the fourth to take a 6-3 lead. After Angels star Mike Trout hit his second home run in as many nights in the fifth to cut the Reds’ lead to 6-4, Barnhart homered in the sixth. He hit another home run in the eighth.
Aquino saved two runs and possibly three in the top of the eighth with a running grab to end the inning. The Angels left the bases loaded.
“I always been focused 100 percent on trying to play good defense,” said Aquino through interpreter Julio Morillo. “That’s a big part of the game.”
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