Stephenson hits 1st career grand slam, Fairchild drives in 2 as the Reds beat the Angels 7-5

CINCINNATI (AP) — Tyler Stephenson hit his first career grand slam in the first inning, Stuart Fairchild drove in two runs and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Los Angeles Angels 7-5 on Saturday night to take the first two games of the three-game interleague series.

Graham Ashcraft pitched into the sixth inning for the Reds, who were coming off a 7-1 win over the Angels on Friday night. The 26-year-old right-hander allowed all five Angels runs and five hits with four strikeouts and three walks.

Nick Martinez pitched three scoreless innings in relief, and Alexis Diaz got the Angels in order in the ninth for his third save of the season and 50th of his career.

The Reds jumped all over Angels starter Patrick Sandoval (1-3) in the first inning.

After giving up a run-scoring double to Stuart Fairchild, Sandoval walked Jeimer Candelario and Elly De La Cruz, sandwiched around a strikeout by Christian Encarnacion-Strand. That set up Stephenson’s bases-loaded shot to right field that came down on the bullpen roof just inside the foul pole.

“The past week or so I've been putting some good swings on the ball,” said the 27-year-old Cincinnati catcher, who also homered Friday night. “I got a good pitch to hit, didn't know if was going to stay fair or (go) foul. Luckily it did stay fair. It's been a lot of hard work, and I can see some results coming for sure."

Reds manager David Bell was gratified by the first-inning offensive.

“You can't overestimate like how important that is,” Bell said. “The game isn't over. We have a long way to go, but if you don't score right away, the game can get away from you. Obviously, (Stephenson's) grand slam, but a lot of good at-bats to get to that point. That was really the game right there.”

Sandoval got through four innings, allowing seven runs and six hits, striking out six and walking five.

“(Sandoval) wasn’t at his very best as far as his command and stuff goes," Angels manager Ron Washington said. “We went out and put two runs on the board (in the first inning), then we make a mistake and we just couldn’t recover from that mistake. After that, we settled in and just kept grinding and came up short.”

Elly De La Cruz finished with a career-high four walks.

Miguel Sanó had three hits, finishing a triple shy of the cycle for the Angels. He slugged his first homer of the season, a two-run shot in the sixth inning off Ashcraft. It was his first homer since April 15, 2022, for Minnesota off Boston’s Nick Pivetta.

Spencer Steer had three hits and scored twice for Cincinnati.

Manager David Bell said the offensive

TRAINER'S ROOM

Angels: 3B Anthony Rendon left with a hamstring injury after legging out an infield single to lead off the game.

Reds: 3B Jeimer Candelario and 1B Christian Encarnacion-Strand were back in the lineup after missing most of the week with illness. ... DH Jonthan India wasn't feeling well and sat for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning. Bell said he'll be fine.

UP NEXT

Reds right-hander Frankie Montas (2-2, 4.34 ERA) faces Angels right-hander José Soriano (0-2, 4.80 ERA) in the finale of the three-game set.

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