Right-hander Tyler Mahle will attempt to beat the San Francisco Giants for the first time in his career when he and the Cincinnati Reds go for a series win on the road Sunday afternoon.
The Giants used four home runs and six near-flawless innings from Logan Webb to even the three-game series Saturday with a 9-2 romp after the Reds took the opener 4-2.
Cincinnati claimed two of three from the National League West contender at home last month, the only loss coming in Mahle's start in the series finale.
The 27-year-old threw 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball that day, allowing just one hit. He left with a 2-0 lead, only to see the Cincinnati bullpen give up six runs in the eighth inning of a 6-4 loss.
The only hit he allowed -- a double by Thairo Estrada -- came on the last batter he faced after taking a no-hitter two outs into the seventh.
The California native has never beaten the Giants, going 0-3 with a 6.56 ERA in five career starts. He's 0-2 with a 6.14 ERA in two lifetime starts in San Francisco.
Mahle (2-6, 4.57) enters the game winless in his past seven starts, going 0-2 despite a 3.28 ERA over that stretch.
Typical of his tough luck of late was a nine-inning shutout effort two starts ago on the road against the Arizona Diamondbacks, a game that went scoreless into the 10th. The Reds wound up winning 5-3 in 12 innings, but he did not get the win.
Mahle allowed a season-high 12 hits in six innings in an 8-2 home loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.
Reds manager David Bell said he expects last year's 13-game winner to finish the series much like rookie Graham Ashcraft started it on Friday with eight innings of two-run ball.
"Our starting pitching is really good," Bell insisted. "It's a strength of our team. We've talked about how every night they give us a chance to win a game. That's saying a lot."
Mahle will have to deal with a Giants lineup that snapped a streak of nine straight home runs with no one aboard with Wilmer Flores' three-run that broke open Saturday's game.
"That was the blow we've been waiting for," Giants manager Gabe Kapler said afterward. "We've talked about one more really good at-bat in a game to make the difference. We've also talked about how big innings win baseball games for us. They've been a key to our success."
Mahle will duel an old friend when pitted against Anthony DeSclafani (0-1, 7.71), a former teammate. The right-hander pitched six seasons for the Reds from 2015-20, going 35-37 with a 4.19 ERA.
The 32-year-old will be pitching against the Reds for the second time since leaving as a free agent following the 2020 season. He won 4-2 at Cincinnati last May in his only career start against the Reds, limiting the hosts to one run in seven innings.
He's gone 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA in two games (one start) against the Reds in his career.
DeSclafani will be making just his fifth start of the season, his second since having missed exactly two months with inflammation in his right ankle.
He returned to pitch three innings at Atlanta on Tuesday, during which he was roughed up for five runs and six hits in an eventual 12-10 win.
--Field Level Media