Reds rally off Bradley in 8th in­ning to down D-Backs again

The Arizona Republic - - SPORTS - Nick Piecoro

CINCIN­NATI – This road trip was sup­posed to be the Di­a­mond­backs' last, best chance to take care of busi­ness, to beat up on the bad teams their sched­ule had gra­ciously lined up for them, to fat­ten up for the lean days ahead. It is not off to a good start.

A night af­ter get­ting shut out, the Di­a­mond­backs watched an eighth-in­ning lead dis­ap­pear as the Cincin­nati Reds ral­lied for three runs off re­liever Archie Bradley to come away with a 6-3 win at Great Amer­i­can Ball Park on Satur­day night.

It ap­par­ently was a loss so emo­tion­ally charged that Di­a­mond­backs man­ager Torey Lovullo felt the need to call a team meet­ing in the vis­i­tors’ club­house af­ter the game, though he ini­tially de­nied that such a meet­ing oc­curred.

Luck­ily for the Di­a­mond­backs, nei­ther of the losses in this se­ries cost them a share of first place; the Los An­ge­les Dodgers, with whom they are tied atop the di­vi­sion, also lost each of the past two days. How­ever, both of the Dodgers' losses came to the Colorado Rock­ies, who have climbed to within 1 1/2 games of first in the Na­tional League West.

Since the start of the year, Bradley has dealt with a cracked fin­ger­nail on his right in­dex fin­ger, an is­sue that’s made his break­ing ball less ef­fec­tive – and, as a re­sult, has made him more re­luc­tant to throw the pitch in key sit­u­a­tions. One such sit­u­a­tion arose on Satur­day.

With two on and two out in the eighth, Bradley threw seven con­sec­u­tive fast­balls to Reds pinch-hit­ter Tucker Barn­hart, who laced the last of them – a 96mph heater up in the zone – into the gap in left-cen­ter field for a go-ahead, tworun dou­ble.

Speak­ing with re­porters, Bradley seemed to have a good rea­son for not throw­ing the pitch while also ac­knowl­edg­ing a need to be­come less pre­dictable.

“It’s 3-2 and if I walk him on a curve­ball it’s like, ‘Why did I just do that?’” Bradley said. “I haven’t thrown it well all year, why would I throw a pitch right there that I’m not good at throw­ing right now?

“I think we all know the is­sues I’ve been hav­ing with my curve­ball this year. It’s been frus­trat­ing. It’s just a thing you have to deal with. Maybe you have to find an­other pitch, throw it more, do some­thing. But I’ve got to do some­thing bet­ter than what I’m do­ing right now.”

Fast­balls up in the zone have been far less ef­fec­tive for Bradley this year – op­po­nents have a slug­ging per­cent­age off them that's more than dou­ble what it was last year – some­thing that could be a re­sult of be­ing able to elim­i­nate pitches.

At one point last sea­son, Bradley al­lowed just one run in a 24-game stretch. Satur­day marked the fourth time in nine out­ings since the All-Star break he'd given up a run, a span in which he's al­lowed 11 runs in 9 2/3 in­nings. Bradley knows he needs to show hit­ters more weapons to re­gain his suc­cess from last year.

“You’ll prob­a­bly see (the curve­ball) like 50 times in my next out­ing,” Bradley said. “I might be­come a thum­ber. I might start throw­ing change-ups and curve­balls. I’ve got to start throw­ing the ball bet­ter. I’ve got to start get­ting guys out. Whether it’s more curve­balls, change­ups, slid­ers, knuck­le­balls – I’ve got to do some­thing.”

Not long af­ter the game, Lovullo ap­par­ently called a closed-door meet­ing with his play­ers. When asked about it, he at first said there was no meet­ing. When pressed about it, he said, “I don’t have any com­ment on that.”

Said Bradley: “I mean, that’s our leader. When he speaks, we lis­ten. We’re sit­ting here a first-place team, a game out of first, what­ever it is. Kind of like he told us, it’s our time to go. We have an op­por­tu­nity in front of us. We know what it takes to get there. We went through it last year. We need to go.”

The Di­a­mond­backs will be look­ing to avoid a sweep on Sun­day af­ter­noon be­fore head­ing to Texas for two games, fol­lowed by a four-game set against the San Diego Padres. Like the Reds, the Rangers and Padres are last-place clubs, and the fewer wins the Di­a­mond­backs record on this trip likely means the more they’ll need to get later in the year, when the sched­ule isn’t as for­giv­ing.

“I don’t think it car­ries any more weight, I would say,” lefty Rob­bie Ray said. “You want to win ev­ery game.”

JOHN MINCHILLO/AP

Di­a­mond­backs re­liever Archie Bradley (cen­ter) is re­lieved by man­ager Torey Lovullo in the eighth in­ning of Satur­day night’s game against the Reds in Cincin­nati.

DAVID KOHL/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Di­a­mond­backs right fielder David Per­alta (6) re­acts as he rounds the bases af­ter hit­ting a solo home run against the Reds dur­ing the eighth in­ning.

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