KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Brandon Williamson gave up a run in the first, another in the second and two more in the third Tuesday night, and everything could have easily come undone for the 25-year-old left-hander and the rest of the Cincinnati Reds.
Instead, Williamson cruised through two more innings without a hit, turned over a 5-4 lead to the stingy Cincinnati bullpen, and watched a quartet of relievers allow a single hit the rest of the way in beating the Kansas City Royals.
“They really thrive on that,” said Reds manager David Bell, whose club faced an early 1-0 deficit against the Royals and has now won a National League-leading 22 games in come-from-behind fashion. “It's been really fun to see.”
Williamson (1-0) allowed four runs, three of them earned, on seven hits over just five innings. But he left with that lead, thanks to a five-run second inning in which the Reds batted through the lineup, and their bullpen survived some shaky moments to not only hand Williamson the victory but the Royals an eighth consecutive defeat.
Daniel Duarte, brought up from Triple-A Louisville, worked the sixth inning in his first appearance for the Reds after missing 143 games to injury a year ago. Ian Gibaut loaded the bases in the seventh before Lucas Sims escaped the jam with strikeouts of Nick Pratto and Salvador Perez. Sims also handled the eighth before Alexis Diaz took care of the ninth for his 16th save.
“Our bullpen is so good, you know? We're just cruising,” said Williamson, who made his big league debut May 16. “You come in the locker room and it feels like we've been playing together for a long time.”
Jordan Lyles (0-11) allowed all five Cincinnati runs on six hits and three walks over six innings for Kansas City. Bobby Witt Jr. hit a two-run homer and MJ Melendez and Matt Duffy also drove in runs, but the Royals couldn't produce down the stretch.
“We lost that game,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “There were plenty of opportunities to win it. Jordan gets the loss. But it's a team loss. I don't look at it like we don't have a chance to win when he's out there. We had plenty of chances to win.”
The biggest reason Lyles is winless this season has been the long ball. The left-hander, who signed a two-year, $17 million deal in the offseason, had allowed at least one homer in 10 of his first 13 starts and two or more more in seven of them.
Lyles didn't give one up Tuesday night. Instead, the Reds battered him with small ball.
Their five-run second inning began with top prospect Elly De La Cruz's walk and ended with his strikeout, and included seven baserunners in between them. There was a double, three singles, two more walks and a fielder's choice, along with three stolen bases, an error by Duffy and a wild pitch that allowed a run to score from third base.
Plenty of boos greeted Lyles as he walked off the mound with a 5-1 deficit.
The Royals got a run back in the second on Duffy's double and closed within 5-4 on Witt's two-run shot in the third. But their only other chance came in the eighth, when Gibaut loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batter, and Sims shut them down.
“It's fun because, you know, it really kind of shows the kind of character we have,” Sims said. “You know, it takes all 26 of us to try to pull together and ride this thing out, and it's fun to watch. Winning is fun.”
Reds: RHP Ricky Karcher was optioned to Louisville after earning the save Monday night. Duarte had his contract selected from the same club. RHP Joel Kuhnel was designated for assignment.
Reds: INF Nick Senzel (right knee) and RHP Tony Santillan (left hamstring strain) went to Louisville to begin rehab assignments. ... OF Henry Ramos (right hip strain) came off the injured list and was optioned to Louisville.
Royals: 1B Vinnie Pasquantino (right shoulder instability) is awaiting the results of an MRI exam taken Monday. The club hopes to have them by Wednesday. ... OF Kyle Isbel (left hamstring strain) began a rehab assignment at Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday.
RHP Ben Lively (3-4, 4.21 ERA) faces the Royals for the first time in the finale of the three-game series. LHP Daniel Lynch (0-2, 4.41) gets the start for Kansas City as he seeks his first win since Aug. 1, 2022.
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