By DAVE HOGG Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) — TJ Friedl hit a two-run triple in the second inning and seven Cincinnati relievers combined on five shutout innings as the Reds beat the Detroit Tigers 4-3 on Wednesday.
Cincinnati’s bullpen has pitched 11 scoreless innings as the Reds have won the first two games of the series. The Reds (76-71) are tied with Arizona for the final NL wild card.
“It’s getting down to it at this point — every game and every inning matters,” Friedl said. “The bullpen has just been incredible for us all season.”
Reds starter Connor Phillips allowed three runs in four innings in his second career start before the bullpen took over.
“Today wasn’t good, honestly, but the bullpen came in and kicked butt,” Phillips said. “I fell behind a bunch of guys tonight, which I didn’t do in the first outing.”
Daniel Duarte (2-0) pitched the eighth to get the win and Alexis Díaz, who got the win in Tuesday’s 10-inning victory, pitched the ninth for his 36th save.
“I’m proud of all those guys,” said Lucas Sims, who got the last out of the sixth inning after pitching a scoreless seventh on Tuesday. “Every one of them is a professional. They come in, they get their work done, get prepared and we have fun down there.”
Eduardo Rodriguez (11-8) allowed four runs on four hits and five walks in 5 1/3 innings.
Friedl gave the Reds a second-inning lead with a two-out, two-run triple into the right-field corner, but the Tigers tied it in the third on Spencer Torkleson’s 28th homer.
Rodriguez walked Harrison Bader to start the fourth, and Noelvi Marte followed with a single. Friedl beat out a bunt single and Luke Maile grounded into a force at second, scoring Bader.
The Reds made it 4-2 in the fourth with the help of Detroit’s defense. Maile took off as Jonathan India struck out on a 3-2 pitch, and Carson Kelly threw to second. Marte immediately broke for the plate and scored before the Tigers could run down Maile.
“We threw through with the idea that we’re going to come back home with it if Marte goes,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “But Andy (Ibañez) mishandled Carson’s throw a little, so he did the smart thing and made sure we got out of the inning.”
Parker Meadows walked in the bottom of the inning, stole second and scored on Akil Baddoo’s double.
Matt Vierling led off the fifth with a walk and took second on Torkelson’s single. That brought Fernando Cruz out of the Cincinnati bullpen, and he struck out the next two hitters before walking Miguel Cabrera to load the bases.
Sam Moll, the third Reds pitcher of the inning, got Meadows to ground out and end the threat.
The Tigers left two runners on base in both the sixth and seventh innings and one each in the eighth and ninth.
“Someone asked me before the series what the secret was to beating them, and I said you had to beat their starters,” Hinch said. “If they can hand the game to their pen, it’s really hard, because they just keep coming at you. They may bend a little, but they make big pitches.”
Reds: RHP Tejay Antone, making his fifth appearance after missing two years with a second Tommy John surgery, left the game in the sixth inning with right elbow discomfort.
“We obviously have to get him examined, but it is concerning because of what Tejay has gone through,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It’s still too early to know anything, though.”
Tigers rookie RHP Reese Olson (3-7, 4.50) will face the Reds on Thursday.