SAN DIEGO– The Reds scored three times in the fourth off Padres starter Walker Lockett and did not look back, taking game one of the three-game series 7-2 in front of 25,729 at Petco Park.
Cincinnati improved to 21-37 while San Diego fell to 25-34.
Lockett struggles in debut
Starting in place of injured southpaw Joey Lucchesi (hip), Padres starter Walker Lockett allowed four runs, four hits, and walked five in 3 2/3 innings on Friday night at Petco Park.
Lockett threw 81 pitches in his major league debut, 45 for strikes. He constantly struggled with command against a Reds lineup that was stacked with left-handed hitters. Six of the nine batters in the Cincinnati order were either left-handed or switch hitters.
In Triple-A, left-handed hitters were hitting .347 with a .992 OPS against the right-hander.
The Reds first got to Lockett in the third inning, manufacturing the game’s first run. Speedster Billy Hamilton worked a six pitch walk to lead off the inning and promptly stole second. He advanced to third and then home on groundouts by Jesse Winker and Tucker Barnhart.
In the fourth, Lockett again walked the leadoff hitter (Eugenio Suarez). Scott Schebler followed with an opposite-field single, placing runners on first and second with nobody out. Next up was Jose Peraza, who lined a two-run double into the left-center field gap.
Later in the inning, Tucker Barnhart hit a seeing-eye single up the middle, which ended Lockett’s evening. Robbie Erlin came on in relief and retired Joey Votto on a ground ball to first, closing Lockett’s line.
“He competed well early, but the walk to Hamilton kind of set the day in the wrong direction,” manager Andy Green stated. “You give five free passes in four innings, and it is tough to compete and win. That is kind of the story of the day.”
“Sometimes you get up here and the emotions run hot for a little bit,” he continued. “He did some nice things early on, but he kind of lost command of his off-speed pitches as the game progressed.”
If there was a bright side to Lockett’s outing, the sinker-baller did induce seven ground ball outs. For the most part, he kept the ball on the ground. However, the lack of command ultimately came back to bite him.
Green refused to commit to giving Lockett another start. His next spot in the rotation will come on Wednesday against the Braves.
Mahle silences Friar bats
23-year-old Tyler Mahle, who entered the evening with a 4.76 ERA in eleven starts, shut out the Padres over five-plus innings. It was the third start this season in which the right-hander did not allow an earned run.
Mahle was not efficient by any means, being removed after a Jose Pirela led off the sixth with a base hit. However, he was able to avoid Padres barrels with some decent command and five strikeouts. In what has been a trend this season, San Diego really struggled trying to hit the high fastball. The Padres scratched across five singles but were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position off the Reds starter.
“We had some opportunities. Mostly fastballs from him, up and in to lefties,” Green stated. “We were underneath of it for the majority of the day. The balls we did hit well did not find holes.”
Mahle induced 12 swinging strikes, throwing 66 of 102 pitches for strikes. He improved his record on the year to 4-6.
Scooter homers again
Scooter Gennett, the reigning National League Player of the Week, just keeps hitting. The lefty slugger homered in the fifth tonight, his 11th of the season. He is now 13-27 (.481) with two home runs and 5 RBI in the first seven games of the Reds’ nine-game road trip.
Lorenzon pounds the zone, records four-inning save
Michael Lorenzen came on in relief of Tyler Mahle and became the first Red in 18 years to record a four-inning save. He allowed two hits, a walk, and two runs in his outing. All of the damage off the reliever came with two outs in the ninth.
It was Lorenzen’s first save of the season.
Silent Padres bats
The Padres could manage only two runs and seven hits on the night. They did not have an extra-base hit until Hunter Renfroe doubled with two outs in the ninth.
Speaking of Hunter…
Renfroe was the only Padre who recorded a multi-hit game, singling in the second and doubling in the ninth.
“He has done a nice job,” Green said. “There’s a compete factor to the at-bats that we love. The last seven or eight at-bats against righties have been high-quality. We’ll continue to give him opportunities.”
He is now 6-for-14 since returning from the disabled list on Monday.