By HAL McCOY
The Chicago Cubs, the Milwaukee Brewers, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates all lost Tuesday night.
That gave the Cincinnati Reds a chance to pick up a game on every team in the National League Central.
The Reds also lost and while they didn’t lose ground, they missed a huge opportunity to gain ground.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pinned a 5-1 defeat on the Reds, their third straight loss. And the loss was well-earned.
The Reds threw fundamentals out the window in this one with blunder after blunder after blunder. Add to that was the ejection of Yasiel Puig for disputing umpire Kerwin Danley’s strike calls. And manager David Bell joined Puig, Bell’s fifth ejection this season.
Blunder No. 1: After Joey Votto homered in the top of the first, Eugenio Suarez walked and Jose Iglesias singled, putting runners on second and first.
Philip Ervin hit one to deep second. Suarez thought the ball went into right field, but second baseman Tommy LaStella flagged it down and caught Suarez between third and home and he was caught in a rundown.
Blunder No. 2: Tommy LaStella led the bottom of the first with a drive off the top of the center field wall. Center fielder Nick Senzel leaped in an attempt to catch it and missed.
The ball ricocheted on a direct route along the bottom of the wall toward right field and right fielder Yasiel Puig was nowhere to be seen. LaStella circled the bases and finished his inside-the-park home run standing up.
Blunder No. 3: Jose Peraza led the second with a single but broke for second too soon on a steal attempt and was caught in a rundown.
Blunder No. 4: With the score tied, 1-1, in the second, Reds starter Tyler Mahle walked No. 7 hitter David Fletcher on a full count. Then he went to 3-and-2 on No. 8 hitter Luis Rengifo and served a hit-me-hard fastball right down the middle. Rengifo hit it hard, over the right field wall for a three-run home run and a 4-1 lead.
Blunder No. 5: Tommy LaStella led the seventh against Michael Lorenzen with a single and Wilfredo Tovar ran for LaStella. Mike Trout flied to the wall in center and Tovar tagged and took second.
Shohei Ohtani flied to medium-depth left field. The ball was caught by Jose Peraza and he began trotting toward the infield, believing it was the third out. It was the second out and an alert Tovar scored from second, giving Ohtani a sacrifice fly and the Angels a 5-1 lead.
Mahle, now 2-and-8, pitched five innings and gave up four runs, six hits, walked three and struck out four.
Mahle is the man on the bubble when Alex Wood is ready to pitch, but Wood suffered another setback after a live batting practice session in Milwaukee Saturday. His problematic back was sore on Sunday, most likely delaying a rehab start in the minors until further notice.
While it didn’t fall under the category of a blunder, the Reds put their first two runners on in the third, but Eugenio Suarez struck out and Yasiel Puig hit into a double play.
The Reds awakened briefly in the ninth when Eugenio Suarez doubled to open the inning and Jose Iglesias singled with one out against Angels closer Hansel Robles.
Pinch-hitter Jesse Winker struck out and Jose Peraza flied to right to end an ugly night for the Reds.