Melky Cabrera hit a two-run home run off Cody Reed to give the Cleveland Indians a 4-3 win over the Reds. The sweep of the three-game series gave the American League Central leaders a four games to two win of the annual Ohio Cup.
"The ball was carrying pretty good. I thought the ball hit for the home run was a Great American Ball Park home run," Jim Riggleman said.
The Reds jumped on Shane Bieber, the Indians' 23-year old starting pitcher in the first inning.
Jose Peraza hit a double, leading off. Peraza took third on a long fly to center by Joey Votto. Eugenio Suarez, who is near the top of the league leaders with 88 RBI, struck out swinging. Scooter Gennett singled Peraza home. Preston Tucker followed with his first home run as a Red and fifth of the season to give the Reds' a 3-0 lead.
Stephenson walked four in 1 2/3 innings. He had 60 pitches.
"The way pitched tonight was unacceptable. It can't happen<" Stephenson said after telling reporters last week that walks are a part of his game. "I had a real hard time getting a grip on the ball. You don't want an excuse. I have to figure out something. I've had a problem in the past but not as bad as tonight."
"Walks are part of my game but obviously the kind of walks tonight are not the ones I want to issue," Stephenson said. "There is a time for them. You get behind in the count on somebody and have a free base in a place where you could give up a hit or home run that could change the game."
Reed quieted the Indians. He gave up a leadoff single in the third to Yonder Alonso but Melky Cabrera hit into a double play. Reed retired the next seven batters in order.
Reed walked Alonso to start the sixth. Cabrera's long fly reached the second row of seats in left field to put the Indians in front, 4-3. It was Cabrera's third home run of the season. Allen singled with one out. The Reds sent Jared Hughes into the game to pitch to Roberto Perez. Perez struck out on a 3-2 pitch and Barnhart threw Allen out stealing second.
"I thought it was a fly ball. I almost pointed up in the air like you do on a routine fly ball," Reed said. "I thought Tucker was underneath it and he kept going back. It was a tough break. I shouldn't have walked the guy."
Riggleman called it a fence scraper.
Brad Hand took the mound in the ninth. Hand, looking for his fourth save as an Indian and 25th on the season, gave up a single to Hamilton leading off the ninth. Peraza hit his third double which bounced into the stands. Votto hit a ground ball to Alonso, who threw Hamilton out at the plate. Suarez, who struck out four times stepped to the plate. Suarez swung and missed to strike out for the fifth time. Scooter Gennett became the Reds' last hope. Gennett drew a walk. Curt Casali came to the plate as a pinch hitter with the bases loaded. Michael Lorenzen ran for Votto, representing the winning run. Casali flied out to right to end the game.
"I thought the ball Peraza hit for the ground rule double was a fly ball and it bounced out of the ballpark," Riggleman said. "That's the way it was playing and we didn't take advantage of it to score runs."
Riggleman was disappointed that Peraza didn't take third on Votto's ground out.
"Billy was going on contact because it is Billy," Riggleman said. "If Votto hit it in a position where he could score its tied but what was supposed to happen if Billy's out, I wanted Peraza to go to third and you have Suarez up against a left-hander, where a fly ball ties the game. If it is second and third you take the bat out of Suarez hands. I know Suarez had a rough night but I want him up there with a man on third and less than two outs."
The Reds out hit Cleveland 10-5.
Stephenson has been a disappointment to the Reds since being drafted as their first pick in the 2011 draft. They have been harping on him to throw more strikes.
It's command of the fastball," Riggleman said. "It is relying so much on the off speed stuff. He's just got to do better. Stephenson had 60 pitches. At that pace he wasn't going to go much farther. That's why Reed was here to pitch against this club and he did a good job."
Reed, who was drafted by Kansas City with their second pick in the second round in 2013. He was the key acquisition in the 2015 trade for Johnny Cueto. He is working out of the bullpen but the Reds still see him as a starter.
"Getting up quick in the second inning," Reed said. "It was the first time I've done that. I was ready to go. I felt good and I was filling up the strike zone."
"I face them a lot in spring training," said Reed of the Indians.. "I am used to it. I see Kipnis up there. I thing the first strike out I had in big league camp was Lindor. I tried playing that back in my head."
Jose Ramirez was 0-4 on Wednesday but he finished with a .370 batting average, two doubles, five home runs and 11 RBI in the six=game series. He was unanimously named Most Outstanding Player in the Ohio Cup Series.