PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks struggled at the plate and starter Brandon McCarthy had a second straight shaky outing.
It wasn’t even the worst news of the night. Not even close.
Centerfielder A.J. Pollock, arguably Arizona’s best player over the past month, will miss an extended period of time after breaking his hand while swinging at a pitch in the eighth inning of the Diamondbacks’ 5-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds Saturday night.
“That is a big blow,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. “He has been playing great, emerging. He has been huge for us. I don’t know how else to say it.”
Pollock had been on a roll over the past 23 games. The 26-year-old hit .379 during that stretch, with 10 doubles, three homers, 19 RBIs and 16 runs scored. He had also played well in center, ranging to get balls deep in the alley and getting a pair of assists on throws to third in games this week.
Now he’ll be out for the foreseeable future after being struck on the hand while swinging at a pitch by Johnny Cueto.
“It is frustrating. Unfortunately it is part of baseball and people have injuries,” Pollock said. “This one there is not much else I could do. The guy ran one up and in and it hit me in the hand. I am not going to think twice about it. Whatever they have me do, I will do it and get back out there.”
The Reds have had trouble hitting with Cueto (5-4) on the mound this season, but followed Friday’s big offensive night by scoring all five runs off McCarthy (1-7) in consecutive innings.
Billy Hamilton ignited Cincinnati’s offense with two hits and two runs from the leadoff spot. Brandon Phillips had a pair of run-scoring singles off McCarthy and the Reds had 11 hits to win for the third time in four games.
Cueto allowed five hits and struck out seven in 7 2-3 innings, and Jonathan Broxton escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth to preserve the Reds’ sixth shutout of the season.
“Another excellent performance,” Reds manager Bryan Price said of Cueto. “Certainly needed because we’re trying to put some wins together. We’ve won some series, but we really haven’t run off a winning streak, which would really help us.”
Cincinnati broke out of its offensive doldrums a bit against the Diamondbacks on Friday night, beating up on former teammate Bronson Arroyo in a 6-4 win that included 11 hits and a grand slam by Devin Mesoraco.
The Reds kept rolling against McCarthy, scoring three runs in the fourth inning on run-scoring singles by Phillips and Todd Frazier and Brayan Pena’s RBI double.
Skip Schumaker added a run-scoring double in the fifth inning and Phillips chased McCarthy with an RBI double — he was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple — that put the Reds up 5-0.
McCarthy allowed five runs on nine hits in 4 1-3 innings, matching his totals in 6 2-3 innings against San Diego his previous start.
“I am starting to give up runs again and that is kind of where it’s been,” McCarthy said. “A few quality innings and then things turn and I don’t have any understanding why.”
Cueto got off a shaky start, giving up a pair of one-out singles in the first inning, but wriggled out of it, stranding runners at second and third.
The right-hander worked quickly and efficiently over the next six innings, twice stranding runners in scoring position. He was lifted with one out in the eighth after a walk and a hit batter.
Arizona loaded the bases after Parra hit an infield single, but Broxton struck out Paul Goldschmidt and got Miguel Montero to fly out to end the threat.
“He just answered the bell,” Price said of Broxton. “He faced two of their most productive hitters and did a terrific job.”