SAN DIEGO (AP) — Homer Bailey completed his long road back to the majors with his first victory in nearly two years.
Bailey threw 5 2/3 solid innings in his first start this season, pitching the Cincinnati Reds past the San Diego Padres 3-2.
Bailey (1-0) returned from forearm and elbow surgeries and allowed two runs, four hits and three walks. He retired 14 consecutive batters during one stretch and had six strikeouts. Injuries limited Bailey to just two starts last season.
The most satisfying part of his outing?
“The Reds winning,” said Bailey, victorious for the first time since Aug. 7, 2014.
“He was really crisp,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “They got to him a little in the first inning but the next four innings he was really locked in, making quality pitches with his fastball and slider. I couldn’t be happier after his first start.”
The Reds took the three-game series and completed their first winning road trip (4-2) since 2014. Despite being in the NL Central cellar, Cincinnati has won five straight series and six of their past seven.
“That feels good and it doesn’t matter where you are in the standings,” Price said.
Tony Cingrani worked the ninth for his 13th save in 18 chances.
But Sunday belonged to Bailey.
“The most gratifying thing was walking out there and seeing some very familiar faces … all the guys,” Bailey said. “It was great to be back out there with your teammates. I’ve been watching them for about a year and a half and wanting to be out there and to see those guys. Well, they have always had my back.”
Paul Clemens (1-2) made his second start with the Padres but was forced to exit after 4 2/3 innings because of a sore back. Clemens, a June waiver pickup from the Marlins, was charged with two runs on four hits and a walk. He tied a career high with five strikeouts.
“I don’t see myself missing any time,” Clemens said. “I’m not here to be hurt.”
The Padres loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but reliever Michael Lorenzen fanned Jabari Blash and Christian Bethancourt flied out.
The Padres closed the gap to 3-2 in the sixth, Bailey’s most stressful inning, when Alexi Amarista’s one-out single preceded three straight walks. Amarista was thrown out trying to score on a wild pitch.
After the third walk to Blash, a disappointed Bailey let his guard down and Wil Myers swiped home without a throw. Bailey was then lifted after 89 pitches.
“I saw that (Bailey) would turn his back on a lot of close calls,” Myers said. “And I knew that if he walked (Blash) that he might turn his back again.”
Blake Wood relieved Bailey and retired Bethancourt looking to end the threat.
The Reds took a 2-1 edge in the second, thanks to some power from an unlikely source.
Eugenio Suarez singled and Jose Peraza followed with a home run into the second deck of the Western Metal Supply Co., building. The 424-foot shot was Peraza’s first of his career.
Peraza had been working on using the middle of the field, but during Sunday’s voluntary batting practice he was lining the ball to left. Still, when he produced his majestic home run, Price was surprised.
“I couldn’t believe it was Peraza hitting the ball to left field like that,” Price said.
Padres: RHP Erik Johnson (right elbow) is expected to miss the rest of the season. While hoping to avoid surgery, his rehabilitation will linger into the offseason.
Reds: RHP Dan Straily (6-6, 3.84) will make his first career start against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday. Straily has produced quality starts in each of his last five appearances. He leads the Reds in innings pitched (122), strikeouts (97) and quality starts (12).
Padres: RHP Jarred Cosart (0-1, 5.95) will make his debut with the Padres against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers. Cosart, who was part of the deal which sent Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea to the Marlins, is making his fifth start of the season.