AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI (AP) – With the bases loaded and the game on the line, Reds manager Bryan Price decided to let Scooter Gennett head to the plate even though he’s struggled mightily against left-handed pitchers. It worked out this time.
Gennett hit his third career grand slam , which ended left-hander Brad Hand’s long scoreless streak and rallied Cincinnati to a 10-3 victory over the San Diego Padres on Thursday.
The Reds won three of four in the series. They’re 9-18 since the All-Star break.
San Diego took a 3-2 lead into the seventh, leaving Dinelson Lamet in line for a fourth straight victory. The Padres’ best reliever let it get away.
The Reds loaded the bases against Kirby Yates (2-3) and Hand, who had a streak of 24 scoreless innings. With two outs, Price could have sent up a right-handed hitter instead of Gennett, who was batting only .203 with one homer off lefties.
“Maybe at times I’ll pinch-hit there, but I usually don’t pinch-hit a lot for regulars,” Price said. “I like to see guys in those situations, and Scooter’s been a big-time player for us.”
Gennett hit the first pitch – a hanging slider – for a 6-3 lead, the first runs allowed by Hand since June 10.
“I saw it pretty early,” Gennett said of the bad pitch. “It was just a slider he’s trying to throw for a strike to get ahead.”
Eugenio Suarez homered two pitches later, after Gennett came to the front of the dugout to acknowledge an ovation from the crowd of 14,915. By then, the game had turned.
“I left a pitch up to Scooter and that was basically the end of it,” Hand said.
Zack Cozart and Joey Votto added homers in the eighth, with Votto’s solo shot extending his hitting streak to a season-high 15 games.
Drew Storen (3-2) escaped a two-on threat in the seventh.
Wil Myers homered for the second straight game, and Jose Pirela completed his big series with a tiebreaking single as the Padres went ahead 3-2. Lamet pitched into the sixth inning, leaving him in position to become the first Padres pitcher to win four straight starts since Jesse Hahn in 2014.
Padres manager Andy Green decided to get Hand warmed up after two Reds had reached base in the seventh. He was ready after Votto had worked Yates to a 2-2 count, and Green made the change. Hand walked Votto, but then fanned Adam Duvall for the second out to bring up Gennett.
“I know it’s a wildly unconventional choice to go to a left-handed pitcher in the middle of an at-bat against Joey Votto,” Green said. “In my mind right there, if I want Hand on the mound 2-2 against Joey Votto, I think I would choose that over anybody on our team. You’re really messing with someone who had worn us out all series long.”
Hand said he had plenty of time to get warmed up.
“I can get hot very quick,” Hand said. “As a matter of fact, I don’t need many down there. My arm’s loose.”
Votto is batting .478 during his hitting streak, which is the longest active one in the majors and two shy of his career high. He’s homered five times during the streak, including in four of the last six games. His 31 homers are the second-most in his career – he hit 37 during his 2010 National League MVP season.
Padres: Pirela slammed into the left field wall after catching Votto’s fly in the first inning. He fell to the ground and stayed down for several seconds but remained in the game.
Reds: C Devin Mesoraco was activated off the paternity list. RH reliever Lisalverto Bonilla was placed on the 10-day DL with a sore right elbow. Mesoraco pinch hit and walked.
Padres: Return to the West Coast for a series at Dodger Stadium. LHP Clayton Richard (5-12) faces LHP Rich Hill (8-4). Richard has induced 271 grounders this season, most in the NL.
Reds: Open a three-game series in Milwaukee, with Homer Bailey (3-6) facing Jimmy Nelson (9-5). Bailey gave up a career-high 10 runs in only 3 1/3 innings of a 13-4 loss to St. Louis on Sunday. In his last five starts, he’s 1-4 with a 924 ERA.
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