By Joe Kay
AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI — The Reds’ biggest weekend of the season started badly, thanks to another meltdown by the major leagues’ worst bullpen.
Derek Norris hit a three-run homer that completed San Diego’s comeback, and the NL’s highest-scoring team in June rallied for a 7-4 win on Thursday night in a matchup of last-place teams.
The Padres are 10-3 against Cincinnati in the past three seasons, their best record against any team.
The game marked the beginning of the Reds’ best time of the season. Hits king Pete Rose will be inducted into the Reds’ Hall of Fame and his No. 14 will be officially retired. His number was cut into the grass in center field for the series.
The series opened with Reds’ bullpen letting yet another one get away.
Yangervis Solarte singled home a run off John Lamb to cut Cincinnati’s edge to 4-3 in the sixth. J.C. Ramirez (1-3) relieved and gave up a single by Melvin Upton Jr. and Norris’ 10th homer run for a 6-4 lead.
It was the 54th homer allowed by the Reds’ bullpen, by far the most in the majors.
“Home runs that give up the lead or extend the lead are tough,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “That’s been somewhat of a nemesis this year. I’ll take that back: It’s been a huge nemesis this year.”
Lamb needed 102 pitches to get through five innings, which has been a trend with Cincinnati’s inexperienced rotation all season. He allowed the leadoff hitter to reach in four of his five innings.
“It’s a matter of just continuing to bear down,” Lamb said. “Every pitch is an important pitch.”
Christian Friedrich (4-2) gave up four runs in five innings, including Adam Duvall’s two-run homer during a four-run third inning.
Fernando Rodney gave up a walk ninth while remaining perfect in 16 save chances.
Travis Jankowski singled home a final run in the ninth, completing another big day for the Padres’ hitters. San Diego is averaging 5.52 runs per game in June, the best in the NL, but is only 11-10.
The Padres are last in the NL West, while the Reds are at the bottom of the NL Central.
On Friday, members of the Big Red Machine that won World Series titles in 1975-76 will be reunited on the field before the game, and the Reds will wear throwback uniforms to the 1976 season as they start their weekend tribute to Rose. The hits king is banned from baseball for betting on the Reds and is ineligible for its Hall of Fame. His number has been worn by only one other player — his son, Pete Jr. — since his banishment.
Duvall became the fourth player in the majors with 21 homers, joining Colorado’s Nolan Arenado, Baltimore’s Mark Trumbo and Todd Frazier of the White Sox. … Since Alfredo Simon’s single on May 22, Reds pitchers are 0 for 45, their longest hitless skid since 1971 when they went 0 for 55. … Billy Hamilton stretched a hit into a double and scored a run. Since returning from the concussion list, he’s 4 for 24.
Padres: OF Jon Jay was out of the lineup for the third straight game with a bruised right forearm, which was hit by a pitch on Sunday. The Padres don’t think he’ll have to go on the DL.
Reds: 1B Joey Votto was out of the lineup for the third straight game with a stomach ailment. He pinch hit in the ninth and struck out. … RH Homer Bailey is scheduled to pitch two innings with Triple-A Louisville on Monday, the first of what’s expected to be at least five rehab appearances. Bailey had Tommy John surgery 13 months ago.
Padres: Colin Rea (3-3, 5.15) makes his fifth start on the road, where he’s 1-1 with a 5.06 ERA. The Padres have scored 48 runs while he was on the mound in his 13 starts, an average of 6.1 per game.
Reds: LH Cody Reed (0-0, 5.14) makes his second career start. Last Thursday in Houston, he allowed four runs in seven innings, including a pair of homers, while fanning nine.