Reds double up Guardians in front of full house

Jeimer Candelario homered twice and drove in all four runs while starter Nick Lodolo was supported by a pair of key defensive plays to help the Cincinnati Reds beat the visiting Cleveland Guardians 4-2 on Wednesday.

With the victory, Cincinnati earned a split of the two-game set.

Candelario finished 3-for-4 in front of 42,427 fans, the most to ever attend a Monday-Thursday game at Great American Ball Park. Lodolo (7-2) was on the verge of leaving the game after the top of the sixth as the potential loser before the Reds rallied for three runs in the home half of the frame.

Alexis Diaz pitched a perfect ninth for his 14th save in 16 chances.

Cincinnati was aided by a pair of outstanding plays in the field. After tying the game at 1-1 in the third, the Guardians were threatening to take the lead with two outs and the bases loaded.

However, Elly De La Cruz backhanded an Andres Gimenez grounder in the hole at short and threw over to first baseman Spencer Steer, who picked the short-hop to get Gimenez by a half-step for the final out of the third.

Then in the fourth, Brayan Rocchio doubled with one out. Two batters later, Steven Kwan singled to Jacob Hurtubise in left, and Hurtubise fired a one-hop strike to nab Rocchio at the plate for the second out.

Gimenez grounded out in the fifth to score Jose Ramirez and give Cleveland a 2-1 lead.

Candelario began his big night in the first inning while facing Cleveland starter Tanner Bibee (4-2), who allowed four runs on four hits despite striking out a career-high 11 in just 5 1/3 innings.

After fanning TJ Friedl and De La Cruz to open the bottom of the first, Bibee left a 96-mph fastball over the middle of the plate and Candelario drove it over the center field wall.

That stood as Cincinnati’s only hit until Will Benson opened the three-run sixth with a single off Bibee. Friedl followed with a single to left before a De La Cruz strikeout. Candelario then went deep again, with his three-run blast putting the Reds up 4-2.

Lodolo gave up two runs and seven hits in his six innings. He walked three and struck out six.