CINCINNATI (AP) – Eugenio Suarez surprised everyone by missing only 16 games because of a broken right thumb. His hitting spree since his return has been just as impressive.
Suarez hit a three-run homer that extended his surge, and Sal Romano made another barehand play on the mound Friday night, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-1 victory over the Miami Marlins.
The Reds ended a three-game losing streak and improved to 8-24, their worst start since the Great Depression.
Suarez homered into the upper deck in left field in the first inning off Wei-Yin Chen (1-1), who lasted only four innings in his second start of the season. Adam Duvall followed with another homer that ended his 0-for-9 slump.
“It was a really good start,” Suarez said. “When you score four in the first, everybody’s comfortable.”
The Reds signed Suarez to a seven-year, $66 million deal during spring training, their first significant contract during their rebuild. Suarez missed 16 games with a broken right thumb, costing Cincinnati’s struggling lineup one of its top run producers.
In eight games since his return, Suarez is 10-for-29 with three doubles, two homers and 13 RBIs. He’s 10 for 20 with runners in scoring position.
Romano (2-3) had a momentary fright for the second straight start at Great American Ball Park. He stuck out his pitching hand to grab Chen’s hard-hit grounder in the third. A trainer visited, and Romano threw a practice pitch before continuing.
He also made a barehand grab of a comeback grounder April 23 against the Braves and said afterward he wouldn’t do it again.
“I’ve probably got to stop doing that,” Romano said. “It’s a reaction thing. I guess it was harder than the last one, but it didn’t hurt at all.”
Chen was sidelined at the start of the season by a strained pitching elbow. He made two rehab appearances and then his debut last Saturday against Colorado, giving up one run in 5 1/3 innings. He wasn’t nearly as good the second time.
“There were definitely a lot of things going on tonight,” he said through a translator. “In the first inning, my rhythm and my timing weren’t perfect. And sometimes even my good pitches got hit.”
RH Tanner Rainey was recalled from Triple-A Louisville to fill in while LH Amir Garrett is on the bereavement list. It’s Rainey’s second stint with Cincinnati. He made two relief appearances last month.
AN EVEN DOZEN
Miami’s J.T. Realmuto singled in the sixth inning, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games, the longest active streak in the majors.
TOUGH PLACE FOR THE FISH
Since 2006, the Marlins have gone 13-28 at Great American Ball Park, their worst record at any visiting NL ballpark.
TOUGH ON THE FISH
In three career starts against the Marlins, Romano is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA.
Chen said his shoulder and elbow feel fine. The Marlins expect him to be a little off at times as he works back from his elbow injury.
“It’s a matter of hopefully getting him sharper as the season goes on,” manager Don Mattingly said.
The Reds are 5-9 under interim manager Jim Riggleman, who took over when Bryan Price was fired on April 19.
Marlins: RH Tyler Cloyd rejoined the Marlins from the paternity list. LH Dillon Peters was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Thursday.
Reds: 2B Scooter Gennett went through a full workout and is expected back in the starting lineup Saturday. He’s been limited to pinch hitting the last four games because of a sore throwing shoulder.
Marlins: LH Caleb Smith (1-3) has allowed only two runs and four hits while fanning 19 in his last two starts covering 13 innings.
Reds: Rookie Tyler Mahle (2-3) has pitched into the sixth inning in each of his last two starts, allowing four earned runs and seven hits in 12 1/3 innings while fanning 18.