Smith solid in 1st start as Diamondbacks cool off Reds, 8-3

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX — Riley Smith pitched six effective innings in his first career start, Tim Locastro had four hits and the Arizona Diamondbacks cooled off the Cincinnati Reds by beating them 8-3 on Saturday night.

Smith (1-0) was impressive, giving up just two runs on eight hits against a Reds team that had won six in a row. The 26-year-old right-hander took the rotation spot of lefty Caleb Smith, who was moved to the bullpen after struggling during his first outing.

Riley Smith navigated Cincinnati’s hot lineup with relative ease. His only trouble came in the second when the first four batters reached base on a walk, double and two singles, including run-scoring hits by Nick Senzel and Jonathan India.

Smith was able to limit the damage by retiring Tucker Barnhart and pitcher Jeff Hoffman for the final two outs. He struck out two and walked one.

The Diamondbacks – who came in hitting just .205 through eight games – broke the game open with a five-run fifth. Three runs scored on Stephen Vogt‘s two-out single. Two scored easily and then Eduardo Escobar was able to come around all the way from first when Senzel slipped in center field while trying to pick up the ball.

Escobar added his third homer of the season on a solo shot in the seventh, clearing the 413-foot sign in center. He’s homered in three straight games for the second time in his career. Asdrubal Cabrera hit his second homer of the year.

Locastro was a catalyst all night in the leadoff spot with four singles, two runs scored and a stolen base. His playing time in center field has increased after Ketel Marte recently went on the injured list with a strained hamstring.

Hoffman (1-1) took the loss, giving up three runs over 4 1/3 innings. Eugenio Suarez hit his second homer of the season, a solo shot in the eighth.


The Reds lost, but they kept hitting. Cincinnati entered batting a big league-best .305 and pounded out 12 hits.


Locastro swiped second in the sixth and is 28 for 28 on stolen bases in his career. That’s the most stolen bases in a row without getting caught since 1951.

Hall of Famer Tim Raines stole 27 straight bases without getting thrown out to start his career from 1979-81.

It wasn’t all good for Locastro on the basepaths, though. He was picked off in the first inning when his hand slipped off the bag while diving back to first.


Reds: OF Jesse Winker didn’t start, one day after leaving the game with calf cramps.

Diamondbacks: SS Nick Ahmed was back in the lineup after missing the season’s first eight games. The two-time Gold Glove winner was dealing with knee soreness during spring training. … Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said he hasn’t decided who Tuesday’s starting pitcher will be against the Oakland A’s. He acknowledged one possibility is RHP Zac Gallen, who has been on the injured list with a hairline fracture in his right forearm.


The Diamondbacks send RHP Luke Weaver (0-0, 4.76 ERA) to the mound against Cincinnati RHP Jose De Leon (0-0, 3.60).

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.