CINCINNATI (AP) — Will Benson hit a three-run homer, and the Cincinnati Reds snapped San Francisco’s seven-game win streak with a 3-2 victory over the Giants on Wednesday night.
Graham Ashcraft pitched into the seventh inning as Cincinnati stopped a six-game slide that dropped the surprising Reds into second in the NL Central, trailing Milwaukee. It was a season-worst skid for Cincinnati.
“We needed it,” Reds manager David Bell said. “(Ashcraft) came through with a good start. He had really good stuff. I think the key was getting out of a couple jams. There were some good plays, but Graham made good pitches. He did his job for sure.”
The Reds (51-46) had four hits. They had been 0-9 this year when they finished with four or fewer hits.
“Whether it is my hit or anybody’s hit as long as we got the win that’s the only thing that’s important,” Benson said. “It’s cool to be a part of. You never know who it is going to be.”
Blake Sabol homered for San Francisco, and Ross Stripling pitched six innings of three-run ball. The Giants (54-42) are tied with the Diamondbacks for second place in the NL West, trailing the Dodgers.
“We fought to the end, but they had their best bullpen pitchers lined up, and they made pitches,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said.
Ashcraft (5-7) departed after Sabol led off the seventh with an opposite-field drive that just cleared the wall in left. Sabol’s 11th homer trimmed Cincinnati’s lead to 3-2.
Ashcraft allowed five hits, struck out three and walked two, continuing his turnaround after a rough stretch. The right-hander improved to 2-1 with a 1.82 ERA in his last four starts.
“It is similar to what I’ve been saying,” Ashcraft said. “It has been finding that rhythm and getting in it. In the fifth and sixth, there were some at-bats I got away and started thinking a little bit too much like trying to figure out what’s going on, when in reality, I didn’t need to sit and think about it. I just needed to go out and attack the zone. Once I got back in that mentality the mechanics kind of fell in line.”
Ian Gibaut, Lucas Sims and Alexis Díaz each pitched an inning after Ashcraft departed. Díaz struck out two while working a 1-2-3 ninth in his 27th save in 28 tries.
San Francisco put two runners on with two out in the eighth, but Sims escaped the jam when Luis Matos flied out to left.
Stripling (0-3) allowed four hits and walked none in his longest outing of the season. It was his fifth appearance and fourth start since missing 35 games with a low back strain.
“We probably could’ve given him more pitches, but we wanted him to end on a good note,” Kapler said. “He did his job and kept us in the game. It was good to get him out on a strong note. We covered the game with two pitchers, which has us ready for tomorrow.”
Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Tyler Stephenson opened the third with singles before Benson drove a backdoor slider deep to left-center for a 3-0 lead. It was Benson’s sixth homer of the season.
“That was a spot where pitchers have had success with Benson, based on the scouting reports, but he punched it,” Stripling said. “It’s been like that all year, giving up too many runs on home runs, but I was able to get six innings and help the bullpen.”
The Giants loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth when Ashcraft hit David Villar and walked Brett Wisely and Casey Schmitt. Joc Pederson then bounced into a run-scoring double play and Mike Yastrzemski popped up.
Electrifying rookie Elly De La Cruz went 0 for 4 to extend his post-All-Star Game slump to 1 for 24 after finishing the first half with a seven-game hitting streak.
Giants: SS Brandon Crawford (left knee inflammation) went on the 10-day injured list, and INF Villar was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento.
Reds: RHP Luke Weaver should be able to make his next scheduled start after taking a line drive off the back of his left elbow in the third inning of Tuesday’s second game. He departed with a contusion, but X-rays were negative.
Giants RHP Alex Cobb (6-2) is scheduled to start Thursday’s series finale against LHP Andrew Abbott (4-2). Game time is 12:35 p.m.