SAN DIEGO -- Reds rookie left fielder Jose Peraza did his best to make Homer Bailey's return to the mound a winning one. Peraza's first career homer put the Reds on top early, and they'd hold on late for a tense 3-2 victory over the Padres on Sunday at Petco Park. It was Cincinnati's fifth consecutive series win.
Bailey -- who underwent Tommy John surgery last April -- struck out six over 5 2/3 frames, allowing just two runs on four hits. His only blunder was a mental one, coming when his momentary lapse in judgment allowed Wil Myers to steal home in the sixth, cutting the lead to one. But the Reds' bullpen held San Diego in check from there.
"Probably early on it took me a few to get my rhythm. The second through the fifth were pretty sharp," Bailey said of his 89-pitch performance overall. More >
Padres starter Paul Clemens was removed in the top of the fifth with lower-back tightness, after 4 1/3 solid innings. He allowed only the two-run shot to Peraza and had retired nine straight at the time of the injury.
Clemens said the injury was minor and that he doesn't expect to miss any time as a result. In fact, he said he could've gotten five more outs if the Padres needed, but manager Andy Green wasn't taking any chances.
"I think he's going to be fine," Green said. "Just had some lower back tightness, he was unable to shake it. He felt it in the fourth inning, first time, then he felt it again when we went out and got him. When he kept stretching out there, at that point in time, I guess I thought better about him being in the game." More >
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED That's a keeper: When Peraza took Clemens deep to the second deck of the Western Metal Supply Co. building in left field, it was good for his first Major League home run. According to Statcast™, the ball traveled 429 feet and exited the bat at 103 mph. The Reds were able to retrieve the ball as a keepsake for Peraza, who was a late addition to the starting lineup in left field when right fielder Jay Bruce was scratched. More >
"In batting practice I was pulling the ball. I was feeling really, really good," Peraza said via translator Julio Morillo. "Really strong today. In the moment in the game, I tried to put a good swing on the ball. Thank God, the ball went out."
Home theft: Myers caught Bailey napping in the bottom of the sixth, stealing home when Bailey sauntered to the area behind the mound between pitches. Bailey noticed Myers' daring dash a second too late, and Myers scored without a throw. It marked the second steal of home for the Padres this season, as Melvin Upton Jr. also did so against the Rockies on June 3.
"I said, 'If he lobs it back or turns his back right here I'm going to try to take it,'" Myers said. "Just lucky enough that it was just the right timing." More >
Better fundamentals just before that: Before Myers scored, a Bailey pitch to Ryan Schimpf got away from Tucker Barnhart. Alexi Amarista tried to score but Barnhart retrieved the ball quickly and threw to a running Bailey covering the plate. Bailey applied the tag just in time for the out that saved a run.
"We practice that once or twice a week in Spring Training for usually just about one of those a year," Barnhart said. "Thankfully this time it worked out. It's a tough play, especially hitting a guy on the run and him getting the tag down in a perfect spot. If you look at the video, he put the tag down directly on the corner of the base where the runner was. He had to go there."
Thrown for a curve: The Padres asked Clemens to throw his curveball more frequently, and his third inning Sunday made it easy to see why. Clemens breezed through the middle of the Reds' order, using his hook to retire all three hitters. He froze Joey Votto with a bender for the first out, got Adam Duvall flailing for out No. 2 and finished the frame by getting Brandon Phillips to hit a slow chopper off the end of the bat.
"The curveball came along later in the game," Clemens said, before shifting focus to his pitch to Peraza. "That home run was tough, because I was still thinking about the at-bat prior when I made that pitch. You've got to find a way to clear that at-bat before it and focus back in, instead of just kind of laying something in there."
"Today was optional batting practice on the field. He hit some balls way out to left field. I don't even remember seeing that in Cincinnati, a better park to hit in. When he hit that ball, I couldn't believe it was Peraza because I haven't seen him other than today at batting practice driving the ball with that type of power to left field. I guess he got a pitch he could handle and he barreled it." -- Reds manager Bryan Price on Peraza's homer
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Reds finished their road trip with a 4-2 record, their first winning road trip since July 31-Aug. 5, 2014. They also completed their first winning month of the 2016 season by going 13-11 in July.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the sixth inning when Duvall grounded to the shortstop, he was called out at first base by umpire Mike Estabrook. The Reds challenged and the call was overturned. Duvall was credited with an infield single.
WHAT'S NEXT Reds: Following Monday's off day and the Trade Deadline, the Reds open a brief three-game home stand vs. the Cardinals at 7:10 p.m. ET Tuesday. Dan Straily, who worked a career-high 7 2/3 innings for a 2-1 win over the Giants on Wednesday, will try to continue his strong stretch of outings. Straily is 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA over his last five starts.
Padres:Jarred Cosart is set to make his Padres debut Monday night when the Brewers come to town for the first of three. First pitch is slated for 7:10 p.m. PT. Cosart -- who was one of the four players acquired in the trade that sent Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea to Miami -- looked sharp in his last time out, tossing five scoreless frames Monday against Philadelphia.