Reds spoil Scherzer’s return with a 1-0 ninth-inning win

  • Cincinnati Reds' Mike Moustakas hits an RBI sacrifice fly during the ninth inning of the team's baseball game against the New York Mets Tuesday in Cincinnati. The Reds won 1-0. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

CINCINNATI — Max Scherzer turned in a stellar performance for the New York Mets in his return from an oblique injury.

Perhaps more importantly for the NL East leaders, the ace right-hander felt good the entire time on a steamy Tuesday night in Cincinnati.

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Scherzer struck out 11 while pitching six innings of two-hit ball, but New York lost 1-0 to the last-place Reds on Mike Moustakas’ game-ending sacrifice fly.

Scherzer, who turns 38 in three weeks, had been sidelined by a strained oblique muscle on his left side. It was his first big league game since May 18.

“I felt great,” he said. “No issues whatsoever today. Felt strong all the way through. (The oblique) never tightened up on me, so that’s a good thing.”

Mets manager Buck Showalter took Scherzer out after 79 pitches — mostly fastballs and sliders — but the ace believed he could have gone deeper into the game.

“This is a good problem to have,” Scherzer said. “Buck is going to make the best decision for the ballclub and for my health and my long-term health, so I completely understand where he’s coming from. With that being said, I didn’t have any problems tonight. I felt good. I felt strong. I had nothing tighten up. I wanted to get to that 90, 95 pitch count.”

Tommy Pham led off the Cincinnati ninth with a double into the right-field corner against Seth Lugo (1-2). It was the Reds’ fourth hit of the game.

Tyler Naquin was walked intentionally before Donovan Solano walked to load the bases. Moustakas’ deep fly ball to center drove in Pham with the game-winner.

“It is kind of how you want to draw it up when you’re coming up to win the game,” Moustakas said. “You just get a pitch to hit and don’t miss it.”

Reds rookie Nick Lodolo combined with four relievers on a six-hitter. Lodolo struck out eight and gave up just three hits in 4 2/3 innings in his return from a back injury.

It was Lodolo’s first major league game since April 24.

“Lodolo — as good as he was — that lineup made him work,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He was really on a mission.”

Hunter Strickland (2-2) got three outs for the win.

“I’m so happy for the bullpen, they kept us right there,” Bell said.

“I know the players are frustrated to have that kind of outing, but I knew that their pitcher was going to be a challenge before the game,” Showalter said of Lodolo. “Watching a lot of stuff on him and talking to people, we knew he was going to be a challenge for us tonight. I was hoping it wasn’t that much of a challenge as it ended up being.”

The Reds threatened in the eighth, putting runners on second and third with one out. But Tommy Hunter got Jonathan India to pop out and Brandon Drury to fly out to right.

Suzuki homers again, Hendricks hurt as Cubs top Brewers 8-3

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Seiya Suzuki has wasted no time getting back into the swing of things since coming off the injured list.

Suzuki homered for the second straight night and had three RBIs as the Chicago Cubs overcame Kyle Hendricks’ early exit to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-3 on Tuesday.

Suzuki ripped a pitch well off the inside corner for a tiebreaking, two-run shot in the fifth inning. That came one night after he hit an inside-the-park homer in the ninth to give Chicago a 2-1 lead, though the Cubs lost 5-2 in 10 innings. The team activated Suzuki from the injured list Monday after a sprained left ring finger caused him to miss about five weeks.

“He looks really comfortable,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “The timing’s back, to me. I think Seiya’s looked as good as he started.”

The Cubs needed power from Suzuki and precision from their bullpen to overcome the loss of Hendricks, who left after three innings with a sore right shoulder. He threw 69 pitches, with his velocity slightly lower than usual.

Hendricks said he felt fine before the game but could tell as soon as he threw his first warmup pitch at the start that something was off. The Cubs’ pitching staff already is at far less than full strength with Marcus Stroman, Drew Smyly, Wade Miley and Alec Mills on the injured list.

“No point in pushing it,” Hendricks said. “It’s not something that’s so bad that it’s going to get out of control, but it’s just not great. Something I’ve definitely got to get checked out to see what it’s all about.”

Chicago’s bullpen stepped up in Hendricks’ absence. Matt Swarmer (2-3), Rowan Wick and Michael Rucker combined to allow just one run over the last six innings.

Most of Milwaukee’s offense came on Rowdy Tellez’s two-run homer off Hendricks in the first inning. Tellez’s last 10 hits have gone for extra bases, tying a Brewers record Ryan Thompson set in 2002.

After starter Jason Alexander (2-1) held Chicago scoreless for the first three innings, the Cubs totaled eight runs over the next three frames to turn a 2-0 deficit into an 8-2 advantage.

“There were just a lot of unlucky things that happened,” Alexander said. “A lot of ground balls that were just a little bit out of reach or just a little bit out of place to where we couldn’t make a play. And that just happens, you know? Sometimes you get unlucky.”

The Cubs scored a run in the fourth without hitting the ball out of the infield. After they loaded the bases on a walk, a hit batter and an infield single, Patrick Wisdom scored from third when Nelson Velázquez grounded out.

Chicago pulled ahead with three runs in the fifth.

The rally started when Brewers shortstop Willy Adames fielded a one-out grounder and threw wildly to first, allowing Nico Hoerner to reach second on the error. Hoerner scored the tying run when Ian Happ hit a grounder that got past third baseman Luis Urías and went into the left-field corner for a double.

Suzuki then lined a first-pitch sinker and sent it just to the right of the left-field foul pole.

The Cubs extended the lead to 8-2 in the sixth as Rafael Ortega drove in two runs and knocked Alexander out of the game with a triple into the right-field corner. Ortega scored as part of a double steal with Happ. Suzuki’s single to left brought home Happ.

Alexander allowed seven runs – six earned – and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two.

“We didn’t play good enough defense to keep some runs off the board early, and then we sent him out there for the sixth and unfortunately that inning just kind of fell apart on us,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

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