CINCINNATI (AP) – One run on a double-play ball was the total sum for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ hitters on Thursday.
That was all Zack Greinke and the bullpen needed.
Greinke and two relievers combined on a four-hitter and the NL West leaders completed a three-game sweep of the reeling Cincinnati Reds with a 1-0 win on Thursday.
“Zack was his typical Zack,” manager Don Mattingly said. “He was good all day.”
Greinke (14-3) lowered his major league-best ERA to 1.61, giving up four hits over seven innings. He finished with two walks and nine strikeouts while improving to 7-2 in 12 games against Cincinnati.
Chris Hatcher pitched the eighth and allowed Todd Frazier’s fly ball to left field that Andre Ethier caught one step in front of the wall. Jim Johnson pitched the ninth for his 10th save.
The Dodgers completed their first sweep in Cincinnati since a three-game set in July 2009.
“There wasn’t a lot of opportunity, but we had some,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “We didn’t cash in. There are little things we can do, like baserunning and getting bunts down.”
The sweep helped the Dodgers salvage an eight-game road trip that started with five straight losses, including a no-hitter by Houston’s Mike Fiers last week.
“It was looking bad for a little bit,” Greinke said. “You hope to do better on a road trip, but we’re still in first place. That’s important.”
There were a couple of setbacks, though.
Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez exited after four innings with a bruised right knee, having fouled a ball off himself. He was listed as day to day.
Los Angeles relief pitcher Juan Nicasio was called in from the bullpen to pinch-run in the ninth when outfielder Yasiel Puig sustained an injury to the same left hamstring that forced him to miss 38 games early in the season.
The Reds went 1-9 on their homestand and have lost 12 of their last 13 games.
Cincinnati didn’t get a runner to third base until the fifth inning, but Jay Bruce was stranded when pitcher Anthony DeSclafani bunted foul with two strikes and Skip Schumaker struck out.
Justin Turner, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig led off the second with consecutive singles against DeSclafani, setting up Yasmani Grandal’s bases-loaded, run-scoring double-play ball.
The double play was the first of five turned by the Reds in the game.
DeSclafani (7-10) allowed six hits – three by Ethier – and one run with one walk and six strikeouts in seven innings while losing his third consecutive start.
“It is fun to go against Greinke,” DeSclafani said. “I knew I had to do my best. It was tough on the hitters today going against him. I have to get my bunts down. It’s not like I don’t work at it, but you have to get them down. That’s on me.”
Facing just two days off in the month of September and 23 games over the last 24 days of the season, the Dodgers are considering using a sixth starting pitcher on occasion after rosters expand on September 1. “We could slip a starter in there,” manager Don Mattingly said. “We’ve talked about that.”
The Reds turned as many as five double plays in a game for the first time since April 8, 2003, at Houston. The franchise record is six, set on June 20, 1925, at New York against the Giants and tied on May 1, 1955, in a 16-inning game also in New York against the Giants.
Reds: LHP Sean Marshall remains on his throwing on every third day program as he works his way back from May shoulder surgery. He resumed throwing off bullpen mounds on Aug. 5. “At some point in time, we’d like to see him face live hitters, but we need to see a little more arm strength and a little more familiarity with the breaking ball,” Price said.
Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw (10-6, 2.29 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday night’s opener of a three-game series against the Cubs at Dodger Stadium. He is 5-0 with an 0.90 ERA over his past nine starts.
Reds: RHP Raisel Iglesias (3-5, 3.93), who’s coming off a 13-strikeout performance in a 4-0 loss to Kansas City last Sunday, is scheduled to start Friday night’s opener of a three-game series at Milwaukee.