Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Anthony Desclafani. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
CINCINNATI -- It had been a long wait for Anthony DeSclafani, who began the season on the disabled list after sustaining an oblique injury late in spring training and having his rehab shut down for nearly a month.
DeSclafani finally made his season debut Friday night, allowing only one run over six innings as the Cincinnati Reds rallied for a 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics in the opener of a three-game interleague series at Great American Ball Park.
"I was nervous, anxious, all of that," DeSclafani said. "I had to battle through it. I'm just glad we won."
It appeared for a while that DeSclafani was going to be outdueled by Oakland's Sonny Gray who, in his second start since coming off the disabled list Sunday, pitched 5 1/3 hitless innings.
"He kept us off balance all night," said Reds left fielder Adam Duvall. "When you can mix 95 (mile per hour fastballs) with that curveball, that's pretty good."
In the seventh inning, however, Duvall was at the center of a Reds' rally when he doubled to drive home Brandon Phillips, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a game-tying RBI single.
Duvall later scored the go-ahead run from third on Gray's second wild pitch of the inning. It was Gray's league-leading 11th wild pitch this season.
"If the ball gets to the backstop, I'm scoring," Duvall said. "I'm alert as it gets with the game tied."
Despite Gray's propensity to uncork a pitch in the dirt, catcher Stephen Vogt took responsibility for not keeping the balls in front of him.
"I've got to catch those," Vogt said. "Sonny's got late life on his fastball. Nobody knows that better than me. I've got to do a better job. Those pitches can't get by me."
DeSclafani overcame early nerves and pitched well for Cincinnati (23-38), scattering eight hits through six innings but left trailing only 1-0. He was efficient in his debut, throwing 65 of 102 pitches for strikes.
"It was a battle," manager Bryan price said. "That was the hardest hitting 2-1 game I've seen in a while."
Oakland (25-35) has lost six straight.
"We've been so streaky, winning three, four, five in a row and then losing the same," manager Bob Melvin said. "We've got to find out a way to play more consistently, That's obviously been our biggest problem."
Gray (3-6) had his no-hitter broken up by catcher Tucker Barnhart's single with one out in the sixth. The wheels then came off for the A's right-hander an inning later when the Reds grabbed the lead on two hits and two wild pitches.
"You look at that inning and that's just how this road trip's been for us," Gray said. "That's the game. That's how it goes. Every single game comes down to a couple of pitches here or there."
Blake Wood (5-1) pitched two scoreless innings for Cincinnati to earn the victory. Left-hander Tony Cingrani pitched the ninth for his sixth save.
DeSclafani showed the typical rust after not pitching in a big-league game since September, scattering six hits in the first three innings.
He was able to limit the damage but did give up Vogt's fifth home run of the season to put the A's ahead 1-0 in the third.
Gray retired the first 10 batters he faced before walking Joey Votto in the fourth. But Votto was erased on an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
There were three hard-hit balls off Gray through his five no-hit innings.
Line drives to center by DeSclafani and Eugenio Suarez and a liner by Zack Cozart that was snared on a dive by second baseman Jed Lowrie.
"We were definitely putting some swings on the ball, we just weren't finding holes," Duvall said. "You have to just stick with the game plan, even though you're making outs."
For the rebuilding Reds, DeSclafani's return was a major step toward stabilizing a young rotation that'd been decimated by injury.
"Most importantly, he felt great, and his arm looked great," Price said.
NOTES: A's manager Bob Melvin confirmed that RHP Daniel Mengden will make his major league debut on Saturday. ... Reds CF Billy Hamilton was transferred to the seven-day concussion disabled list, opening a roster spot for RHP Anthony DeSclafani, who made his season debut on Friday after beginning the season on the DL with a left oblique strain. ... The A's recalled INF Max Muncy and RHP Zach Neal from Triple-A Nashville and optioned RHP Jesse Hahn to Triple-A.