CINCINNATI — Matt McLain‘s single to deep center field highlighted a three-run comeback in the ninth inning, helping to make top prospect Elly De La Cruz‘s highly anticipated debut for the Cincinnati Reds a winning one Tuesday night in a 9-8 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Trailing 8-6 with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Cincinnati loaded the bases against reliever Caleb Ferguson. Ferguson walked Curt Casali, scoring Spencer Steer and cutting the deficit to a run. Jake Fraley was hit by a pitch, scoring T.J. Hopkins and tying the game at 8.
Ferguson (3-1) was pulled for Shelby Miller. McLain then singled over the head of Jason Heyward in center field to score Stuart Fairchild and snap Cincinnati’s nine-game losing streak against the Dodgers.
De La Cruz embraced McLain after the game.
“I told him, ‘I told you,'” De La Cruz said, recalling what he told McLain in that moment. “I told him before he hit the walk-off, I said, ‘Hey, you’re going to hit a walk-off.’ I said, ‘I told you, man.'”
McLain finished with three singles for the Reds (28-33), who hadn’t beaten Los Angeles (35-26) since Sept. 17, 2021. Eduardo Salazar (1-0) earned the win, striking out two in an inning of relief.
Before Tuesday, the Dodgers had won 118 straight games when leading by five or more runs at any point, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“We kept playing through all nine innings,” McLain said. “The fans were in it, all nine. Obviously, Elly was making his debut. It was cool.”
De La Cruz, who was named baseball’s top prospect by ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel in his updated rankings last month, made his major league debut. The 21-year-old batted cleanup and finished 1-for-3 with a double, two walks and a run scored. The double had an exit velocity of 112.0 mph, tied for the hardest hit by any Reds player this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
“I’m just every excited to be here,” he said. “I’m just trying to give the team an opportunity to win, and sure enough, we did that today.”
Mookie Betts led off the game with a ground ball right at De La Cruz down the third-base line. Betts stood at first with a base hit after De La Cruz was unable to snag it.
“I thought it was a foul ball,” De La Cruz said. “But it’s OK.”
Betts scored two batters later on a double by Max Muncy. Betts jump-started a three-run first for the Dodgers, who were looking to rebound after dropping two games of a three-game set at home against the New York Yankees over the weekend.
Cincinnati countered with three runs in the bottom half of the first. Fraley and McLain had back-to-back singles and Jonathan India hit a fly ball to Betts in right. The out set up runners on the corners for De La Cruz.
Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin tossed a curveball low and inside to De La Cruz, who nearly came out of his shoes for strike one. The 6-foot-5 slugger then settled in and drew a six-pitch walk to load the bases for Steer. Gonsolin plunked Steer to bring home Cincinnati’s first run, and then Tyler Stephenson brought home both McLain and De La Cruz on a line drive single to center field.
“We score three runs in the first inning, and to go back and give away three runs in the bottom half, not good,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
The game remained tied at 3 in the third when De La Cruz hit a stand-up double, but he was stranded.
Los Angeles took a 4-3 lead in the fourth when J.D. Martinez hit a solo homer, his 15th of the season.
Reds starter Luke Weaver was pulled in favor of reliever Alex Young after allowing four runs on six hits and walking Betts to load the bases. Freddie Freeman then tagged Young for his second grand slam of the season and the fifth of his career.
Despite the loss, the Dodgers are still 16-5 in their past 21 games against Cincinnati.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.