Adam Duvall made sure that Anthony DeSclafani's valiant pitching effort was not wasted. Duvall drove home Brandon Phillips with a double and scored the winning run on a wild pitch as the Reds handed the Oakland Athletics a 2-1 defeat.
DeSclafani made his long awaited return to the Reds' pitching rotation. His mound opponent, Sonny Gray, was making his second start since coming off the disabled list.
"I just try to lay off the pitches in the dirt and when the ball is up in the zone put my 'A' swing on it," Duvall said. "When I put my 'A' swing on it most of the time it finds a hole."
You would never know the two pitchers had just returned as both pitchers wounded the pride of hitters all night.
Gray was even better, retiring the first 10 Reds' batters before he walked Joey Votto in the fourth. Phillips hit into a double play. Gray retired the next four in a row before Tucker Barnhart's solid single to left broke the no-hitter.
DeSclafani struck out only two but the Reds' defense turned a double play in the fifth inning. In the sixth, DeSclafani walked Khris Davis to start the inning. He advanced to secondbase on a wild pitch Former Red Yonder Alonso hit a line drive over Jay Bruce's head for the second time in the game. Bruce held Alonso to a single in the second inning. This time he threw Alonso out at secondbase while Davis had to hold at third. Davis ran on contact when Marcus Semien hit a one hopper to Eugenio Suarez at third. Suarez cut Davis down at the plate. The Reds put Max Muncy on first with an intentional walk with first base open.
"It was a battle for him. There were a lot of balls hit hard. He didn't have a lot of separation between the velocity of his fastball and his slider," Bryan Price said. "When Desco's really good he has a change up and curve that provides that separation to get him off the velocity pitches."
The Reds defense bailed DeSclafani out of the nervousness of returning to the Major League mound.
"I didn't make it easy on myself. We played good defense which is why we won," DeSclafani said. "I was everything, nervous, anxious. There was a lot of adrenaline I had to control. It all comes down to executing pitches better."
Reds' manager Bryan Price forced his University of California teammate, Athletic's manager, Bob Melvin's hand. Should he hit for Gray, who at the time had a no-hitter or let Gray, who seldom bats as an American League pitcher, go to the plate to ad insurance runs. DeSclafani struck out Gray, who became the last batter faced by the Reds' pitcher.
Phillips singled with one out in the seventh and moved up on a wild pitch. Jay Bruce flied out deep to leftfield for the second out. Duvall delivered Phillips with the tying run with a double just inside the thirdbase pillow. It was Duvall's 15th double and 41st RBI of the season. Suarez infield single moved Duvall to third. The leftfielder scampered home on Gray's second wild pitch of the inning.
Tony Cingrani allowed a leadoff hit but earned his sixth save in 11 chances, getting Crisp to hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the game.
"Anything a young pitcher does, he has to do with consistency," Price said. "(John) Lamb and (Brandon) Finnegan have had a couple nice games in a row. It's great to see. (Dan) Straily has been a great surprise. It's great to see. Now, we just have to find that next tier of relievers to solidify the bullpen. We get Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen back at the end of the month. That should help as they learn how to work out of the bullpen again. (Alfredo) Simon will go back to the bullpen. He really did a nice job for us there three years ago. It is like getting a whole new staff. We can't rely on Wood, Ohlendorf and Cingrani all the time over six months."