Cincinnati totaled two hits and two ejections Sunday in a 2-1 defeat to the Miami Marlins.
Joey Votto argued at length when he took a pivotal strike three in the first. Eugenio Súarez was ejected after being called out in the seventh, and manager David Bell was tossed for arguing a strike called on Kyle Farmer, who then went down swinging to end the game with the tying run on second.
Cincinnati’s lead over San Diego for the second NL wild card fell to 1 1/2 games.
Jesús Luzardo allowed one hit and no runs in six-plus innings to help the Marlins take the rubber game of the series. He escaped in the first inning after the first two Reds reached, with Votto taking a 3-2 pitch for a called third strike that appeared well outside.
“He gets that call, it’s a different inning,” Bell said. “And Joey knows that. He didn’t.”
The Reds weren’t alone in their reaction to how balls and strikes were called, Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
“There was a lot of complaining, both sides,” he said.
Luzardo (5-7) had by far his best outing since being acquired from Oakland for Starling Marte at the trade deadline. The left-hander tied a career high with eight strikeouts.
Jesús Sánchez hit a two-run homer in the first, his sixth homer of the year and his second in two days. Miami won the final two games of the series after losing 11 in a row to Cincinnati over the past two years.
The Marlins’ Anthony Bender pitched two scoreless innings and was helped by two double plays. Dylan Floro gave up a run in the ninth on Votto’s sacrifice fly but earned his seventh save in 11 chances.
Miami won with four hits. The Reds’ Tyler Mahle (10-5) allowed two runs in seven innings.
The only hit Luzardo gave up was a double by Jonathan India to begin the game. Luzardo retired 14 batters in a row before he hit Votto to start the seventh and exited. Votto was erased on a double play, and Luzardo lowered his ERA from 9.67 to 7.19.
“I felt really good today, just under control, calm on the mound and basically really confident,” Luzardo said.
The Reds’ Tyler Naquin went went 0 for 2 with a walk, ending his 17-game hitting streak. He reached in the second inning when second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. failed to field a tough grounder and was charged with an error.
Luzardo, who has worn glasses in the past, went back to them for the first time this season.
“I felt like I needed to go back to my old ways and maybe try something new,” he said. “I’ll probably wear them for the rest of my career.”
Reds: All-Star OF Jesse Winker (intercostal strain) has begun throwing and is expected to start swinging a bat in the next few days.
Reds: RHP Luis Castillo (7-13, 4.29) is scheduled to start Monday when Cincinnati opens a three-game series at home against the Cardinals and Jon Lester (4-6, 5.27). The Reds are 8-5 against St. Louis this season.
Marlins: After an off day Monday, they have a busy day Tuesday at the Mets. In the afternoon will be the completion of a game suspended April 11 in the first inning, with a night game to follow. Rookie Edward Cabrera and Elieser Hernandez are the scheduled pitchers.