The Red Sox closed out their month of June by nearly getting shut out for the second straight night. They instead fell to the Cincinnati Reds by a final score of 2-1 to kick off a two-game interleague series at Fenway Park on Tuesday.
With the loss, Boston finishes the month having gone 14-14 and comes into June sporting a record of 23-27 on the season.
Michael Wacha, making his eighth start of the year for the Sox, allowed one unearned run on three hits and no walks to go along with three strikeouts over 5 2/3 solid innings of work.
The veteran right-hander retired each of the first 12 batters he faced, taking a bid for a perfect game into the fifth inning before giving up a leadoff double to Joey Votto that nearly left the yard. He then stranded Votto at third base, but ran into additional trouble in the sixth by yielding back-to-back singles to Albert Almora Jr. and Matt Reynolds.
Those two hits put runners at the corners with no outs for Aristedes Aquino, who grounded into a fielder’s choice that resulted in Almora getting tagged out between third and home. After retiring Brandon Drury, Wacha was just one out away from getting through sixth scoreless frames. He got Nick Senzel to hit a groundball to Rafael Devers at third, but Devers’ throw to Franchy Cordero was wide of the mark and allowed Reynolds to score all the way from second to give Cincinnati a 1-0 lead.
At that point, Wacha was given the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora in favor of Austin Davis. The 30-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 72 (53 strikes) and lowered his ERA on the season to 2.43. Davis, meanwhile, got himself in and out of a bases-loaded jam before recording the first two outs of the seventh. He then made way for Tyler Danish, who ended things in the inning and gave up a 398-foot double to Votto in an otherwise clean top half of the eighth.
After Danish got the first out of the ninth, Cora turned to another left-hander in Jake Diekman. Diekman surrendered a one-out single to Mike Moustakas, who was pinch-ran for by Alejo Lopez. Lopez advanced to second on an Almora groundout. Diekman then got Almora to ground out, meaning he was one out away from keeping the Reds at one run.
That did not happen, though, as Diekman was able to get Reynolds to hit a grounder to Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts fielded the ball cleanly, but made a throw that Cordero was unable to come up with at first base. Bogaerts’ throwing error allowed Lopez to score from second to make it a 2-0 game in favor of the Reds.
Going into the latter half of the ninth, the Red Sox lineup had been thoroughly held in check by Cincinnati’s pitching staff. Luis Castillo led the way by striking out 10 over six dominant and scoreless innings.
After yielding a one-out single to Devers in the first, Castillo proceeded to sit down 14 of the next 15 batters he faced. In the bottom of the sixth, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Enrique Hernandez led off the frame by drawing back-to-back walks. Following what would turn out to be a well-timed mound visit, Devers grounded into a 4-6-3 double play and J.D. Martinez fanned on six pitches to extinguish the threat.
Fast forward to the ninth, the Sox were now matched up against Reds reliever Tony Santillan. A Hernandez single and Devers double to lead off the inning put runners at second and third with no outs. Martinez and Bogaerts were unable to push across a run, but Alex Verdugo came through with a two-out RBI single on a 101.7 mph grounder that got the best of Votto.
Devers advanced to third on the play. Santillan, however, rebounded by getting Trevor Story to strike out on three pitches and end the game with a final score of 2-1.
All told, the Red Sox went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left five runners on base as a team. They are now 2-4 on their seven-game homestand that ends on Wednesday.
Next up: Greene vs. Whitlock
On that note, the Red Sox will wrap up their quick two-game series against the Reds on Wednesday night. Boston will turn to righty Garrett Whitlock in the finale while Cincinnati will roll with rookie right-hander Hunter Greene.
First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Rafael Devers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)