SAN FRANCISCO — Of course Scooter Gennett knew he had made that magnificent play all the way.
“Yeah, well I’m really fast,” Cincinnati’s second baseman quipped, grinning, “so long distances aren’t really a problem for me. I get there pretty quick.”
Scooter sure can scoot.
Gennett homered a half-inning after he saved two runs with a diving catch on a difficult popup that he somehow ran down, helping the Reds avoid a sweep by the San Francisco Giants with a 6-3 win Wednesday.
Adam Duvall hit a three-run homer in the first, and Matt Harvey went four innings in his second start since joining the Reds from the Mets. Reliever Jared Hughes (2-2) pitched two scoreless innings as Cincinnati won for the seventh time in nine games.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth, Gennett scurried to get a popup by pinch-hitter Gorkys Hernandez along the right-field line near the visiting bullpen — scissoring his legs over right fielder Scott Schebler to make the tough, potentially game-saving grab.
“Scheb’s probably not on my list of guys I’d want to collide with. He’s a pretty built guy and runs really fast, too, so that would have been a tough one to collide with him,” Gennett said. “In that situation it’s worth the risk, so I had to try to save a run.”
Cincinnati stopped a five-game skid against the Giants and avoided what would have been San Francisco’s first three-game sweep of the Reds since May 3-5, 2002.
Staked to a 4-0 first-inning lead, Harvey nearly gave all of it back. Andrew McCutchen hit an RBI double in the first and scored on Pablo Sandoval’s sacrifice fly, and Brandon Belt homered leading off the third.
Harvey, who pitched four scoreless innings in his Cincinnati debut last Friday, struck out the side in the fourth. He allowed three runs, seven hits and four walks in his first outing against the Giants since June 2015.
Harvey is encouraged, even with his pitch count climbing fast.
“It’s been a while since I’ve felt stronger throughout a game, so getting up toward 80 pitches and still feeling strong and noticing the ball coming out the way it was it’s definitely a big positive,” he said.
Duvall also made a tremendous catch in left-center to steal a likely extra-base hit and turn Sandoval’s drive into a sacrifice fly.
“Then Gennett making that play in right field, if that falls then it’s a different ballgame, so they made a couple of plays there that saved them,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Reds manager Jim Riggleman figured the teams still might be playing if not for Scooter’s play.
Pinch-hitter Brandon Crawford singled leading off the ninth against Reds closer Raisel Iglesias, who finished the 2-hour, 41-minute game for his eighth save. Crawford, whose hit was his 10th in the past 13 at-bats, ended Iglesias’ streak of 17 straight batters retired.
Cincinnati added an insurance run in the fifth on a passed ball that got by backup catcher Nick Hundley.
Giants lefty Andrew Suarez (1-3) allowed five runs and eight hits in six innings.
Belt homered in a fifth straight game against the Reds, a streak dating to May 13 last year. Barry Bonds had been the previous Giant to clear the fences in five consecutive games vs. one opponent, against San Diego in six straight games from April 12 to June 20 in 2001, according to STATS.
But Belt was upset to be called out on strikes to end the game by plate umpire Doug Eddings.
“It’s tough because you hope an umpire doesn’t affect a game like that, but he did and you’re not sure if it was on purpose, either,” Belt said.
Reds: 1B Joey Votto returned to the starting lineup after sitting out Tuesday with back tightness. He left Monday’s game with the back issue. … RHP Michael Lorenzen, on the disabled list all season with a strained pitching shoulder, allowed one walk in an otherwise clean inning during a rehab assignment for Double-A Pensacola against Biloxi.
Giants: C Buster Posey was off a day after taking a foul tip in the mask — and Bochy had planned to give him a day anyway. “With the hard shot he took last night it makes sense to give him a full day off,” Bochy said. … SS Crawford had a day off to rest before the hit in the ninth. … LHP Madison Bumgarner used all his pitches during a 30-throw bullpen session and Bochy said “everything went well.” Bumgarner will throw again Friday or Saturday then is scheduled to face hitters Tuesday in Houston as he works back from a broken pinkie in his pitching hand.
Reds: Following an off day at home, RHP Homer Bailey (1-5, 5.59 ERA) makes his team-high 10th start in the opener of a series with the Cubs.
Giants: RHP Jeff Samardzija (1-2, 6.94 ERA) pitches the opener against Colorado in the Giants’ first matchup of 2018 with the division rival Rockies. San Francisco has faced the Dodgers 11 times already. “It has been a different schedule,” Bochy said.