By HAL McCOY
After poking their heads out of the deep recesses of a losing cave Saturday, the Cincinnati Reds retreated back to the darkness Sunday afternoon, losing to the Milwaukee Brewers, 5-4, in Miller Park.
There was a familiar pattern to it, too. Bad baserunning by the Reds and Johnny Bench-like hitting from Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
And, as they have done so often during their recent stretch of futility, the Reds put away their bats before the game was over. Adam Duvall punched a one-out single in the fourth and the Reds didn’t get another hit after that until there were two outs in the ninth inning.
NINE REDS HAD GONE down in order and they were down to their last out, trailing by 5-2. But three straight singles by Tyler Holt, Ivan DeJesus Jr. and Tucker Barnhart plated two runs.
Suddenly, it was 5-4 and the tying run was on first base. That was it, though, because relief pitcher Blaine Boyer struck out pinch-hitter Jordan Pacheco on three straight pitches.
In addition, another decent pitching performance by Reds left hander Brandon Finnegan was put to waste, although the Reds are now 0-and-8 in the eight games started by Finnegan.
IT BEGAN AUSPICIOUSLY in the first inning when the Reds had two runners wiped off the basepaths.
Billy Hamilton led the game with a double, but pitcher Jimmy Nelson caught him too far off second base and Hamilton had to break for third and was an easy out.
Brandon Phillips singled with two outs and was caught trying to steal second.
MOVE NOW TO THE bottom of the first and the Brewers displayed some shrewd baserunning. Jonathan Villar led the bottom of the first with a single.
Hernan Perez popped a foul behind first base and close to the stands. Second baseman Brandon Phillips sprinted over and made a sliding catch. But he ran into the wall, injuring his ankle. While Phillips was down, Villar not only alertly tagged up at first, he took second AND third.
From there he scored on Jonathan Lucroy’s sacrifice fly, just a continuation of Lucroy’s productivity in this series, two of three won by the Brewers. Lucory had nine RBI in the series, three each game.
THE REDS SCORED TWO in the top of the second, started by Jay Bruce’s home run, his 35th career homer against the Brewers. The Reds then filled the bases with no outs — and scored ONE run.
Adam Duvall was hit by a pitch, Tyler Holt beat a bunt single and Ivan DeJesus Jr. singled to fill ‘em up. But Tucker Barnhart bounced into a double play as one run scored and Brandon Finnegan grounded out.
That gave the Reds a 2-1 lead, but the offense went to sleep from there until the ninth.
MEANWHILE, THE BREWERS took a 3-2 lead in the third, scoring two after there were two outs and nobody on. Finnegan inexplicably walked Villar and he scored on a Lopez double. Lucroy singled to make it 3-2.
The Brewers made it 4-2 in the fifth on a double by Alex Presley and a singled by Villar.
The Brewers added what turned out to be the winning run in the seventh and it was that guy Lucroy. Villar walked and was bunted to second. With two outs and first base open, the Reds decided to pitch to Lucory and he smoked a triple to the right field corner for a 5-2 lead. That pushed him to 6 for 11 with nine RBI in the series.
FINNEGAN PITCHED 6 1/3 innings and gave up four runs and six hits, but he walked four and two of those walks scored.
The Reds, losers in 12 of their last 13 and 16 of their last 19, flew after the game to Denver for the start of a four-game series in Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies, beginning tomorrow afternoon.