CINCINNATI (AP) — Control had not been a problem for Brad Hand as a starting pitcher, until the fifth inning of the Miami left-hander's start on Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds.
Hand issued three walks in the inning, more than he'd allowed in any of previous nine starts this season. The Reds capitalized with five runs, including Devin Mesoraco's grand slam, on their way to a 7-2 victory over the Marlins.
"I had three walks, and they scored five runs," Hand said. "I didn't lose location. I made some good pitches. I just missed a little bit."
Mesoraco homered twice and drove in a career-high six runs, denying the Marlins their first sweep of the Reds since May 2003.
Hand walked Ramon Santiago to start the fifth, but he still was one pitch from getting out of the inning with runners on second and third and two outs before issuing back-to-back walks to Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier. He especially regretted walking the left-handed hitting Bruce.
"I had the guy I wanted up there, but I couldn't make the pitch," he said. "I've got to finish the inning and get out of there."
Miami manager Mike Redmond was hoping to nurse Hand through the fifth. Instead, Mesoraco followed the walk to Frazier with his second homer of the game and 20th of the season, a 371-foot drive into the left-field seats.
"He had two outs, and he made a couple of great pitches (to Bruce)," Redmond said. "It would have been nice to get through with just the one run."
Mesoraco leads all major league catchers with 20 home runs and the National League with three grand slams.
The fifth-inning outburst gave Johnny Cueto (14-6) some breathing room. In eight innings, he allowed five hits — two homers — with two walks and nine strikeouts. He improved to 6-0 in his last seven starts.
Hand (2-4) allowed five hits and seven runs with three walks — all of them in the fifth — and two strikeouts.
Giancarlo Stanton, the NL's home run and RBI leader, lined his 29th homer with two outs in the first for a 1-0 Miami lead.
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