Judge grounds into pivotal double play as Reds hold off slumping Yankees 3-2 behind Abbott and ‘pen

NEW YORK (AP) — Andrew Abbott took a two-hit shutout into the seventh inning and reliever Fernando Cruz got Aaron Judge to ground into a pivotal double play, pitching the Cincinnati Reds past the struggling New York Yankees 3-2 on Wednesday night.

Noelvi Marte hit a two-run homer and Stuart Fairchild also connected as the Reds handed Carlos Rodón (9-6) his fourth straight loss. They’ve won consecutive one-run games at Yankee Stadium to ensure their first series victory in almost a month.

Cincinnati was 0-4-2 in its previous six series since taking three of four games against the Chicago Cubs from June 6-9.

“We played well. That’s important for us,” manager David Bell said. “Winning the first two is great, but we have tomorrow, too, and it’s just as important for us.”

Anthony Volpe ended an 0-for-18 slump with a two-run double in the seventh off Cruz, who then threw a wild pitch and walked Juan Soto, putting runners at the corners in a 3-2 game.

But on the next delivery after a visit from pitching coach Derek Johnson, the right-hander got Judge to ground into an around-the-horn double play that ended the inning.

“It was the time to compete,” Cruz said. “I know who you are. I’m here. I have three pitches that I can get you out (with) and I don’t think you’re expecting a fastball in the middle of the plate and I’m going to throw it to you.”

A fired-up Cruz gave a huge fist pump and shouted with joy as he came off the mound. He called it “the best feeling in the world.”

“Shutting down the fans, the crowd — the game was on the line and shutting them down is one of the best feelings in sports for me,” Cruz said. “I don’t know what’s better than that.”

The streaking Judge began the day leading the majors in homers (32), RBIs (83) and OPS (1.158).

“It’s the best hitter in the world, there’s no secret about it,” Cruz said. “There’s no better way to compete.”

Justin Wilson struck out pinch-hitter Trent Grisham with two on to end the eighth. Alexis Díaz earned his 19th save in 21 tries, inducing a double-play grounder from Volpe that erased a leadoff walk in a hitless ninth.

New York (54-34) lost for the 12th time in 16 games and fell to 0-5-1 in its last six series.

“It’s just baseball,” Soto said. “We hit the ball hard and we couldn’t find the gap.”

Abbott (8-6) was charged with one run and three hits over 6 1/3 innings in his first outing against the Yankees. The left-hander improved to 5-1 in his past six starts.

“He executed, he got ahead, and I think we probably just missed a couple of pitches,” Volpe said. “He had good stuff today.”

Tyler Stephenson singled in the Cincinnati second and Marte drove an 0-1 fastball just inside the left-field foul pole for his fourth major league homer and first this season, snapping a career-worst 0-for-16 slump.

The rookie third baseman returned last Thursday from an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. He began the night batting .150 with two RBIs.

“It’s a dream come true to come and play in Yankee Stadium,” Marte said through a translator. “I’ve always kind of dreamed of that.”

Fairchild was out in front of a full-count slider leading off the fifth, but he lofted it 362 feet into the left-field corner for his fifth home run.

Those were the only three hits permitted by Rodón, who rebounded somewhat from three ugly outings in a row. The two-time All-Star struck out eight and walked two in 5 1/3 innings — but it wasn’t the result he was seeking.

Removed after 95 pitches, Rodón walked slowly off the mound to mild applause from a sellout crowd of 47,646 on Fireworks Night and yelled into his glove as he approached the dugout. The $162 million lefty is 0-4 with a 10.89 ERA in his last four starts after going 7-0 with a 2.28 ERA in his previous seven.

“A lot better than the last three,” Rodón said. “Some pitches I’d like to have back.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Reds: LHP Nick Lodolo (finger blister) threw 20 pitches against hitters and is scheduled to throw a bullpen in a few days. He remains on track to come off the injured list and start next Tuesday against Colorado.

Yankees: Soto appeared a bit shaken up after his right arm and shoulder banged into the chain-link portion of the right-field fence on a catch in the second inning. He stayed in the game. Soto was elected Wednesday night to his fourth All-Star Game, his first as a starter.

UP NEXT

Reds RHP Frankie Montas (3-6, 4.23 ERA) faces one of his former teams in the series finale Thursday afternoon. Montas is 1-6 in 13 starts since April 9, but he’s often pitched in hard luck with little run support lately. RHP Marcus Stroman (7-3, 3.29) goes for New York.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

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