CINCINNATI -- The Twins had never faced Reds rookie starter Anthony DeSclafani before, but they clearly did a good job with their advanced reconnaissance. Minnesota scattered 15 hits in the game, including 11 off of DeSclafani, before holding on for a messy 8-5 victory Tuesday that evened the three-game series ahead of Wednesday's matinee finale at Great American Ball Park.
While throwing a career-high 122 pitches, DeSclafani was charged with six earned runs over 6 2/3 innings with two walks and seven strikeouts. Torii Hunter homered in the first inning to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. One run crossed in the top of the second inning and another followed in the fifth before separation came in a four-run Minnesota seventh. The big hit was Kurt Suzuki's two-run single against Burke Badenhop, who replaced DeSclafani.
Although he gave up solo home runs to Eugenio Suarez and Marlon Byrd, it was a mostly smooth night for Twins starter Phil Hughes until trouble in the bottom of the seventh. Byrd began the seventh with a homer to left field, and Tucker Barnhart walked before two-out issues struck. The Twins committed two errors in the four-run inning, and a wild pitch by reliever Blaine Boyer also scored a run to make it a two-run game.
Hughes finished with two of his four runs allowed over 6 2/3 innings being earned with seven hits, one walk and four strikeouts. After Glen Perkins recorded his 25th save, the loss cost the 35-41 Reds a winning June as they finished the month with a 13-14 record. The Twins (41-36) finished a struggling month on a high note but were 11-17.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Hunter's bat stays hot: Hunter has been displaying plenty of power this road trip, hitting his fourth homer over his last four games, and his 12th of the season. He also helped spark a rally with a single in the fifth that set up a sacrifice fly from Joe Mauer, and helped the Twins get an insurance run in the eighth with a double before scoring on a single from Mauer.
"He's had a really good trip," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "His bat seems fresh. Even his last at-bat he had two strikes and hit a rocket over the right fielder's head. He's rallying the troops and keeping the energy up. I thought it was important for him to push the guys early in the game, because it's an easy night when you're sitting around pregame to come out flat."
Long balls: Leading off the bottom of the third inning, Suarez hit a 1-2 Hughes pitch to straightaway center field for his second homer of the season. The Reds did not have another extra-base hit against Hughes until Byrd's 13th homer, also on a 1-2 pitch.
Ugly inning nearly derails Hughes' strong start: The Twins had a six-run lead heading into the bottom of the seventh with Hughes cruising. Byrd hit a fly ball to shallow right in foul territory, but Hunter couldn't make the play and Byrd promptly homered. It got worse from there, as Hughes appeared to get out of the inning, but Eduardo Nunez made an error at shortstop to keep the inning alive.
Boyer came in and gave up an RBI single to Ivan De Jesus Jr. before getting Joey Votto to ground to Brian Dozier. But Dozier's throw sailed wide, allowing another run to score. Boyer then threw a run-scoring wild pitch before finally getting out of the jam by getting Todd Frazier to pop up in a 10-pitch at-bat.
No panic at the Disco: DeSclafani may have had six runs on his pitching line, but it could have been much worse. While he was on the mound, Minnesota was 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. DeSclafani benefited from two ground-ball double plays that ended innings and twice had Hughes end innings, and rallies, by making the third out with a groundout. But in the seventh, Dozier's leadoff double sparked the four-run rally.
"They have a good team, good lineup and if I make mistakes they're going to get hits," DeSclafani said. "I battled most of the night with runners on. I thought I did a good job up until that seventh inning and I got to do a better job that inning." More >
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A two-hour, one minute rain delay pushed back the game's first pitch. It was the 15th rain delay of the season for the Reds, totaling 21 hours, 11 minutes. Ten of those delays have occurred at Great American Ball Park.
"It's great to see the resilience of our offense to come back. This is one of the things we talked about earlier in the year that we weren't doing. That was finding our way back into ballgames when we got down early. Guys really fought back to get into that game. [The Twins] were able to get that tack-on run [in the eighth]. It didn't put the game away by any means, but it kind of took a little bit of the wind out of our sails when they added that extra run. We got ourselves into a situation where we were one hit from having the tying run at the plate. We just couldn't get it done." -- Reds manager Bryan Price
"It was another good performance, and he's strung a few together now. He's pitching aggressively and trusting his stuff. His pitch count was down, and he was economical going into that last inning. But our defense wasn't very tight tonight, and he couldn't get out of that inning, so we had to go to the bullpen. But overall he was very good." -- Molitor, on Hughes
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Rookie right-hander Trevor May makes the start in Wednesday's series finale at 11:35 a.m. CT. With right-hander Ervin Santana set to make his return from his 80-game suspension on Sunday, it'll be a big start for May, who recorded just one out in his last outing against the Brewers on Friday. More >
Reds: Ace Johnny Cueto is slated to start the 12:35 p.m. ET series finale. Cueto threw 112 pitches over six innings on eight days' rest as a precaution for elbow stiffness in his previous start Friday. He gave up two earned runs and only two hits, but he paid for three straight walks in the fifth inning-- including one with the bases loaded -- that scored the go-ahead run in a 2-1 loss to the Mets.