It wasn’t like watching paint dry, it was like watching the third coat of paint being dried with a hair blower.
It would have been more exciting to sit in the middle of the Sonoran desert at high noon counting cacti, or maybe watching the Cincinnati Bengals, than watching the Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks foist futility on 27,297 in Chase Field Sunday.
The Diamondbacks, reputedly in the chase for the National League West title, stranded 17 runners and were 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position, waiting around long enough for Corey Patterson to hit a 10th inning one-out home run off the right field foul pole for a 2-1 Reds victory.
When the much-maligned Patterson homered, the Reds had only two hits and 19 straight hitters had gone down impotently. But it enabled the Reds to finish 4-2 on the trip to Milwaukee and Arizona, with all six games decided by one run.
Cincinnati starter Johnny Cueto used more pitches than a bad salesman, 115 in five innings. At one point in the fifth inning, Cueto had thrown more balls (54) than strikes (53). He walked six.
He finished with 56 balls and 59 strikes, tying Chicago’s Carlos Zambrano and Baltimore’s Daniel Cabrera for most balls thrown out of the strike zone in one game this year.
But the only run he gave up was a fifth-inning home run to Justin Upton, a home run that tied it, 1-1, after Jay Bruce hit his 18th homer, leading off the fourth.
Then 19 straight Reds went down until Patterson’s home run.
“Cueto threw a lot of pitches, but he really battled,” said manager Dusty Baker, referring to the fact the D-Backs left one on in the first, then two each in the second, third and fourth against Cueto.
The stranding continued against the Reds bullpen — two, three, three, zero, two over the last six innings.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team score one run and strand 17 batters,” said Baker. “They were threatening every inning and we were fortunate to come away with it.”
The D-Backs stranded 13 Saturday in a 3-2 10-inning loss to the Reds. In the two games, they were 1 for 24 with runners in scoring position.
Former Reds outfielder Adam Dunn stranded 10 runners over the three-game series, five Sunday. His only RBI came Saturday when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
The Reds did walk him twice intentionally with runners in scoring position. He hit into a double play in the first with two on and struck out with the bases loaded in the eighth against Bill Bray.
Arizona starter Max Scherzer, 24, the team’s No. 1 draft choice in 2007, held the Reds to one run (Bruce’s homer) and two hits over six innings, walking three and striking out nine.
But the D-Back pinch-hit for him in the sixth when they had two on and one out, going for the downs on that one. But pinch-hitter Jamie D’Antona and David Eckstein popped out against lefthander Adam Pettyjohn, making his debut for the Reds.
But with the tying run on second and the winning run on first, Cabrera caught Young looking at strike three.
“I can tell a difference in the way we’ve played since we played the Cubs at home, then Milwaukee and these guys (Arizona) on the road, all contenders,” said Patterson. “Those teams were all down for playoff spots and to us this was our playoffs. And we’ve played great.”
Patterson, hitting .204 with nine homers this year, has been an offensive mirage, but his defense has been exemplary most of the year, including two near-the-wall stabs in this series.
The fact the Cincinnati Reds are 5-2 over a span of seven straight one-run games through Saturday was impressive to Eric Davis, but he wants to see the team do better, like 7-0, and do it in April, May and June — when it counts.
“Our main objective here is to change the mentality,” said Davis, the former Reds superstar outfielder now traveling with the team as an unofficial coach. The mentality, of course, is a losing one — eight straight years of it.
“That’s what we’re working on, how to win, what it takes to win,” he said. “We lost a one-run game in Milwaukee Wednesday that we should have won and we lost a one-run game Friday in Arizona we should have won. Those games make a huge difference over the course of a season.
“We need to learn what to do and what not to do in those kinds of games,” he said. “My message to young players is to do what you can do and don’t try to do more and don’t do less.
“We have the core players here to be good,” he added. “Just a piece here and a piece there and change the mentality.”
The seven straight one-run games isn’t close to a record, not even a franchise record. The 1967 Reds played 11 straight one-run games.
“The only way to learn how to play one-run games is to play in them,” said manager Dusty Baker. “And you can learn something from the losses, too.”
Amazingly, the Reds are 26-18 this season in one-run games — 26 of their 68 wins are by one run.Tweet