They certainly made things interesting in the end, but the Red Sox could not overcome an eight-run deficit and pull off a come-from-behind win over the Reds on Tuesday night. Boston instead got to within one run in the ninth inning before falling to Cincinnati by a final score of 9-8 at Fenway Park to drop to 28-26 on the season.
With Brayan Bello making his eighth start of the year for the Sox, the Reds opened the scoring in the top half of the second. After giving up back-to-back one-out singles to Will Benson and Stuart Fairchild, Bello yielded an RBI groundout to T.J. Friedl, who beat out a would-be inning-ending double play.
The Red Sox had a golden opportunity to respond against Reds starter Ben Lively in the bottom of the second. Masataka Yoshida drew a leadoff walk and immediately went from first to third base on a line-drive double from Jarren Duran. Enrique Hernandez then drew another walk to fill the bases with one out. But Lively escaped the jam by fanning Enmanuel Valdez and getting Reese McGuire to line out to reigning National League Player of the Week Matt McClain.
Bello proceeded to grind through a scoreless third inning before surrendering a leadoff triple to Will Benson to begin things in the fourth. The right-hander was able to strand Benson at third base by retiring Fairchild and striking out the final two batters he faced.
Because he needed 97 pitches (61 strikes) to get through four innings, Bello’s night came to a close sooner than expected. The 24-year-old hurler wound up allowing just the one earned run on five hits, two walks, and four strikeouts. He induced six swings-and-misses and was ultimately charged with his third losing decision of the year.
In relief of Bello, Justin Garza received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. The righty ran into immediate trouble in the fifth by giving up a leadoff single to Jonathan India, which was immediately followed by a run-scoring double off the bat of Jake Fraley to put Cincinnati up, 2-0, at the midway point.
Again, the Red Sox had a chance to get to Lively in their half of the fifth. With two outs and one runner on first following a leadoff single from Hernandez, Raimel Tapia laced a 103.5 mph double off the Green Monster. Hernandez, who was waved in by third base coach Carlos Febles, attempted to score all the way from first on the play, but he was instead gunned down at home plate on a perfectly-executed relay started by Reds center fielder Jose Barrero.
Hernandez was in the spotlight for the wrong reasons in the sixth inning as well. After issuing a leadoff single to Benson and one-out walk to Barrero, Garza got McClain to hit a grounder to Hernandez at shortstop. Hernandez fielded the ball cleanly, but — in an attempt to start an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play — he then made a poor throw to the awaiting Valdez at second base.
As a result of Hernandez’s second error of the night and his 11th of the season, Benson scored his side’s third run while Barrero and McClain each advanced an additional 90 feet. Joely Rodriguez then came on to record the final out of the sixth on a five-pitch punchout, but the lefty was not nearly as sharp in the seventh.
Rodriguez walked two of the first four batters he faced in the inning in the process of filling the bases with one out. He followed that by sequence by issuing a bases-loaded free pass to Fairchild, which brought in Kevin Newman from third to give the Reds a 4-0 advantage. Barrero then doubled that lead on one swing of the bat, as he clobbered a 421-foot grand slam off the leftmost light standard above the Green Monster.
Trailing by eight runs going into the latter half of the seventh, the Red Sox finally got on the board. After Lively went 5 2/3 scoreless frames and Alex Young got the final out of the sixth, Fernando Cruz put up a three-spot on the other side of the stretch. With two outs, Valdez singles off Cruz and then scored all the way from first on an RBI double from McGuire. Back-to-back run-scoring triples from Tapia and Rafael Devers cut the deficit to five at 8-3.
Cincinnati got one of those runs back in the eighth, as Tyler Stephenson belted a one-out triple to deep center field before scoring on a Spencer Steer sacrifice fly that came off Ryan Sherriff. After poor base running from Yoshida led to Triston Casas lining lining out to an inning-ending double play a half-inning later, it appeared as if Boston was headed towards a rather ugly loss to kick off the homestand.
That changed in the ninth, though. With Eduardo Salazar on the mound for the Reds, Valdez drew a one-out walk and McGuire followed with another double to put runners at second and third. Tapia, Devers, and Justin Turner then strung together three straight run-scoring hits to trim Cincinnati’s lead to three runs and force manager David Bell to turn to his closer in Alexis Diaz.
Diaz, in turn, served up an RBI double to Yoshida, who was pinch ran for by Pablo Reyes. With runners at second and third, Duran pushed across Turner and allowed Reyes to move up to third with an RBI groundout. Just like that, the tying run was only 90 feet from home plate.
Down to their final out, Casas fell behind in a 1-2 count before whiffing at an 89.7 mph sinker at the knees to end it. Casas finished the night having gone 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. The Red Sox, as a team, left seven runners on base altogether.
At three hours and 12 minutes, Tuesday’s loss marked Boston’s second-longest nine-inning game of the season. Only an 8-3 win over the Blue Jays back on May 3 (three hours and 10 minutes) took longer.
Devers reaches milestone
With his run-scoring single in the seventh inning, Devers notched the 500th RBI of his big-league career. The 26-year-old is the 35th player to record 500 RBIs for the Red Sox and is the fourth-youngest player to do so behind only Hall of Famers Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Jim Rice.
Tapia finishes homer shy of cycle
By putting together his first three-hit game as a member of the Red Sox on Tuesday, Tapia finished a home run shy of the cycle. The 29-year-old outfielder doubled in the fifth inning, tripled in the seventh inning, and singled in the ninth inning. He is now batting .364/.417/.500 over his last seven games.
Next up: Weaver vs. Paxton
The Red Sox will look to snap this two-game skid in the second game of this three-game set against the Reds on Wednesday night. Left-hander James Paxton will get the start for Boston while Cincinnati will counter with right-hander Luke Weaver.
First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Raimel Tapia: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)