MIAMI (AP) — Sandy Alcantara enjoyed a big lead early and finished with a flourish.
Buoyed by uncharacteristic run support, Alcantara had a career-high 12 strikeouts in seven innings Saturday night to help the Miami Marlins beat the Cincinnati Reds for the first time in six meetings this year, 6-1.
Alcantara (8-12) allowed one run and retired the last 11 batters he faced, seven by strikeout.
The Marlins had totaled one run in Alcantara's past two starts and have struggled to score for him all season. But Jesús Sánchez hit a three-run homer against Vladimir Gutiérrez as Miami gave Alcantara a 5-0 lead after one inning.
"That means a lot, because when they score runs for me I feel happy," Alcantara said. "I feel more aggressive. When I get runs, I just lock in and attack the hitter."
Alcantara achieved a career high in strikeouts for the second start in a row, with both coming against the Reds. He increased his season strikeout total to 158, surpassing his previous career high.
"He's got some of the best stuff in the game — not only the stuff, but his whole presence," Reds manager David Bell said. "He knows how to pitch."
The stats reflect the way Alcantara, 25, is developing into a strikeout pitcher as he adds more options to his repertoire, manager Don Mattingly said.
"This is the evolution of a guy," Mattingly said. "This guy is a beast. This is six, seven, eight innings just about every time out. This is our horse, and it's going to keep getting better and better."
Jorge Alfaro also drove in three runs to help Miami improve to 2-11 against Cincinnati over the past three seasons. Jazz Chisholm Jr. had the first three-hit game of his career and scored twice.
Tyler Naquin doubled home the Reds' run in the third. He has the longest active hitting streak in the majors at 17 games.
Cincinnati third baseman Mike Moustakas left the game in the second inning due to a tight right hip. His status is day to day, and he won't start Sunday for the Reds, who began Saturday two games ahead of San Diego in the race for the second NL wild card.
The first eight Marlins reached base against Gutiérrez (9-5), who needed 35 pitches to retire a batter. Alfaro drove in the first two runs with a single, and Sánchez made it 5-0 with his fifth homer.
It was the Marlins' highest-scoring first inning since 2017.
"The contact from their hitters wasn't hard, but it was contact well placed," Gutiérrez said. "They had the results."
Gutiérrez allowed five runs in three innings, the rookie's shortest outing this year.
An enthusiastic crowd of 10,407 cheered loudly for Dominicans Alcantara and Sánchez on Dominican heritage night.
"This is what our crowd should feel like," Mattingly said. "Maybe we have Dominican night every night."
Chisholm broke the chain on his necklace running the bases. The Reds' Tucker Barnhart angrily busted his bat over his thigh after he struck out.
Reds: RHP Art Warren (left oblique strain) will report to Louisville next week to start a rehab assignment. ... RHP Brad Brach (right shoulder impingement) threw another side Saturday and appears close to being activated.
Marlins: The rehab progression for RHP Pablo López (shoulder) at Triple-A Jacksonville has been slowed down as a precaution. He hasn't pitched for the Marlins since July 11, but they still hope to get him back before the end of the season, Mattingly said.
The Reds optioned to Triple-A Louisville and assigned to the taxi squad INF Jose Barrero to make room on the roster for INF Asdrúbal Cabrera, who was claimed off waivers from the Diamondbacks.
RHP Tyler Mahle (10-4, 3.69) is scheduled to start in the rubber game of the series Sunday for the Reds against LHP Jesús Luzardo (4-7, 7.91).
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