Reds rally: Too little and too late


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.








The 11-game losing streak is h-i-s-t-o-r-y


The Ogre is gone, no longer lurking over the shoulders of the Cincinnati Reds. The Ogre has left the building.

The 11-game losing streak is h-i-s-t-o-r-y.

IT WASN’T EASY and it was full of controversy, but the Reds scored a 7-6 victory Saturday afternoon over the Milwaukee Brewers in Miller Park.

Where to start, oh, where to start?

Well, for one thing, it took a decision 880 miles away from Milwaukee for the Reds to score the decisive run — a replay/review in the ninth inning decided back in MLB headquarters in New York.

THE SCORE WAS TIED, 6-6, and the Reds had the bases loaded with one out. Adam Duvall hit a ground ball to shortstop, an easy 6-4-3 double play. Inning over.

But, wait. The Reds asked for a review, asked the folks back in New York to check to see if Milwaukee second baseman Scooter Gennett touched second base on the force at second.

Until the rules were changed this year an infielder turning a double play at second base only had to be in the same area code as second base to get the force, never really had to touch second base.

Now, the rules say the infielder must come in contact with the bag. And the reviewers in New York said, “Nope, Gennett didn’t touch second base.”

So the out at second base was wiped away, the double play was wiped away, and a run scored on the decision, the winning run.

THAT CULMINATED A rare Reds comeback. They trailed 6-1 after six innings and the comeback was the largest deficit they have overcome this year.

They scored five runs in the seventh inning and Adam Duvall’s second three-run home run in two days tied it, bringing the Reds back from 6-3 to 6-6.

Cincinnati starter Alfredo Simon gave up two runs in the first inning, but was sailing comfortable after that. But his temper got the best of him.

The Reds scored a run in the fourth when Duvall doubled and Tyler Holt doubled him home. Holt took third on a fly ball to right field. Then, with Simon batting, Holt broke for home, a steal attempt.

MILWAUKEE PITCHER CHASE Anderson saw Holt headed home and threw the pitch right at Simon and hit him. That negated the theft of home, forcing Holt to go back to third.

Simon was enraged, slamming his bat to the ground and complaining to the umpire.

So when Anderson came to bat in the fifth, even though he was in a tight game, trailing by only 2-1, Simon extracted his pound of revenge by hitting Anderson with a pitch.

Umpire James Hoye immediately ejected Simon.

In the second inning, Anderson hit two Reds with pitches, Eugenio Suarez and Tucker Barnhart. The Reds had the bases loaded with one out, but Simon hit into a double play.

BEFORE THE GAME was over, six batters were hit by pitches, four Reds and two Brewers. Six hit batters in a game tied a National League record and, amazingly, the last time it happened was this year — Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates just a couple of weeks ago.

After Simon left, the Brewers scored a run off A.J. Morris and two runs off Caleb Cotham to build the 6-1 lead.

The Reds wiped that out with a five-run seventh. Tucker Barnhart started it with a double and pinch-hitter Ivan DeJesus Jr. flied to center. Zack Cozart struck out and his futility is at 0 for 18.

This time, though, the rally didn’t die. Joey Votto singled, his second hit and the first time in the month of May he had more than one hit in a game and Barnhart scored. Brandon Phillips singled to put two on base and Duvall unloaded his 11th home run to tie it, 6-6.

THE GAME-WINNING rally began in the ninth when Cozart was hit by a pitch, the sixth batter hit on this day. Votto forced Cozart at second and Phillips walked. Jay Bruce poked a single to left to fill the bases with one out.

Then came the almost double play on Duvall, called a double play, but overruled in New York and Duvall was credited with his fourth RBI of the day and seventh in two days.

THAT LEFT IT UP to Tony Cingrani to record the save and he did it in near-perfect fashion, two strikeouts, a tantalizing walk, then another strikeout, this one pinch-hitter Marin Maldonado to end the game, Cingrani’s fourth save.

So the 11-game losing streak is a bad memory, not a distant memory, but at least it’s over.

During the losing streak the Reds hit .187 and averaged 2.8 runs per game. The team pitching earned run average was 7.13.

AND IT IS TOO bad that Simon let his temper get the best of him because he was on his way to a decent start, one he needed badly.

The 35-year-old Simon, making $2 million this year, was 1-and-5 with a 10.16 earned run average in six starts this season. In his last 22 starts the Reds were 5-and-17 and 1-and-9 in his last 10 starts.

But the Reds will take the four-plus innings he gave them — three runs (two earned), three hits, two walks and a strikeout.

And the Reds say, with a deep bow, “Thank you, New York. Thanks for review/replay.”



Brewers lead Lamb to the slaughter


If there is one team the Cincinnati Reds should be able to compete with in the National League Central it is the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Brewers are in the same ship as the Reds, one with a lot of holes and taking in water. They, too, are in a rebuilding process.

Like the Reds, they are reshaping their roster while keeping a couple of their stars. The Brewers are keeping outfielder Ryan Braun and are talking about moving catcher Jonathan Lucroy. The Reds are keeping Joey Votto and talking about moving Jay Bruce.

It is almost a mirror image.

EXCEPT FOR FRIDAY night in Milwaukee’s Miller Park. The Brewers put it to the lifeless and listless Reds, 9-5, Cincinnati’s 11th straight defeat.

The Brewers are next–last in the NL Central, but by punishing the Reds Friday they are seven games ahead of the last place Reds. And the 15-33 Reds are 18 ½ games behind division-leading Chicago.

What made this one even more painful is that the Reds scored three runs in the top of the first before the Brewers took their first swings, all three runs coming on Adam Duvall’s 10th home run.

That wasn’t enough for Reds starter John Lamb. He lasted only 3 2/3 innings and gave up six runs, seven hits and three walks. Two of those seven hits were home runs.

THE REDS HAVE LOST all four of Lamb’s starts and in his last 13 2/3 innings he has given up 16 earned runs.

After being staked to that 3-0 top-of-the first lead, Lamb promptly walk Milwaukee leadoff hitter Jonathan Villar and he eventually scored on a sacrifice fly. Johnathan Lucroy homered with two outs in the third and it was 3-2.

It turned to tatters in the fourth when Aaron Hill led the fourth with a hme run to tie it, 3-3, Keon Broxto doubled and scored on Villar’s double. Villar scored on a single by Hernan Perez’s single to push it to 5-3.

AFTER GIVING UP three in the first, Milwaukee starter Zach Davies, who entered the game with a 1-and-3 record, pitched three straight 1-2-3 innings.

The spell was broken when Billy Hamilton and Ramon Cabrera hit back-to-back singles to open the fifth. But with no outs and two on the Reds got only one run on pinch-hitter Tyler Holt’s sacrifice fly.

The rally was snuffed when slow-footed catcher Cabrera broke for second on a hit-and-run but Zack Cozart swung and missed and Cabrera was out at second.

Dayan Diaz was pitching for the Reds in the fifth and once again Aaron Hill led the inning with a home run. He has six home runs this year, five against the Reds, including three in one game earlier this season in Cincinnati. That pushed Milwaukee’s lead to 7-4.

Joey Votto cut it to a two-run deficit in the sixth by leading the inning with a home run. Then the Brewers put it out of reach with two runs in the bottom of the seventh against J.C. Ramirez.

And just as they have done in their past four games, the Reds went quietly in the late stages of the game — 10 straight retired.

On Monday in Los Angeles, Clayton Kershaw retired the final 17. On Tuesday 15 of the last 16 made outs. And on Wednesday in LA the last 10 Reds went down silently, just as the last 10 were fruitless Friday.

The Brewers muscled 14 hits against the Reds. Villar was 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBI. Perez had two hits with a run and two RBI. Lucroy was 2 for 4 with a run and three RBI. Hill was 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBI. Ramon Flores was 2 for 5 with a run and he came into the game batting .040.

Duvall, with the first-inning home run and a single was the only Cincinnatian with more than one hit. The Reds had only seven and Cozart went 0 for 4 and saw his average dip below .300 for the first time this year (.297). And the Reds now have nobody hitting over .300.

Straily’s sensational effort goes to waste


The bats the Cincinnati Reds are using these days are cold enough to freeze a polar bear. Or, as one man once said, “They are taking bats to the batter’s box for no apparent reason.”

The losing streak reach 10 straight Wednesday night in Chavez Ravine, a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

When your starting pitcher gives up three runs and three hits and strikes out 11, as Cincinnati’s Dan Straily did, shouldn’t you win?

NOT WITH THE OFFENSE the Reds are offering in non-support.

They produced four hits Wednesday night against left hander Scott Kazmir, who struck out 12 in six innings.

So the Dodgers completed a three-game sweep during which the Reds produced three runs and nine hits in 27 innings. And during the 10-game losing streak (they’ve also lost 15 of 17) the Reds are hitting .185.

During the three-game sweep, the Reds offense in the late innings collapsed like a cheap beach chair. On Monday against Clayton Kershaw the last 17 went down in order. On Tuesday 15 of the last 16 went down in order. On Wednesday the last 10 went down in order. That’s 42 of 43 in the late innings.

IT WAS A TOUGH one for Straily to take. He retired the first nine Dodgers in order with six strikeouts.

And his teammates gave him a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. With one out Brandon Phillips singled. Jay Bruce drove one to the left center wall and Joc Pederson ran hard into the wall unsuccessfully trying to catch it. And he stayed down. Phillips scored and Bruce tried for an inside-the-park home run but was thrown out on a close play at home.

The lead lasted only long enough for the Dodgers to come to bat in the bottom of the fourth. Chase Utley led with a single and Straily hit Justin Turner with a pitch. Then he issued his first walk on a full count to Adrian Gonzalez, filling the bases with one out.

He struck out Trayce Thompson for the second out, but Pederson drove the next pitch into right field for a two-run single and a 2-1 lead.

THE ONLY OTHER run of the game came in the fifth when former Reds No. 1 draft pick (2010) catcher Yasmani Grandal drove a home run deep into the right field bleachers.

L.A. starter Kazmir, who walked seven and gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings in his previous start in San Diego, struck out the first two Reds to start the game. Then Votto and Phillips both singled, but Jay Bruce lined to left to end the threat.

After that, the Reds produced two more hits over the final eight innings.

And the bad karma continues in the batter’s box for several Reds. Eugenio Suarez is 0 for 20 with 13 strikeout. Zack Cozart, who doubled on the first pitch in the first inning of the first game against Clayton Kershaw, was 0 for 11 after that. Votto had a single, but also struck out twice and has struck out 51 times this year.

Those were the major culprits, but it really is Team Slump.

After taking Thursday off to travel to Milwaukee, the Reds open a three-game series Friday night against the next to last place Brewers (20-26), who are 5 ½ games up on the Reds. That means even if the Reds sweep the Brewers they can’t climb out of the National League Central basement.

Reds: Where has all the offense gone?


Las Vegas didn’t know what to do until they thought it over. Then they did know.

When the morning line came out they weren’t certain who would pitch Tuesday night for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

So, a writer for ‘Scores and Odds’ wrote, “The problem is, as of this writing. not even the Dodgers themselves are sure who that will be. Thus there’s no early line on the game, although L.A. should be favored regardless of who it is because the Reds stink.”

So they made the Dodgers the favorite. And they were correct. The Dodgers scored an 8-2 victory, extending Cincinnati’s losing streak to nine straight and losers in 14 of their last 16.

THE DODGERS CALLED up Mike Bolsinger from Triple-A and he held the Reds to two runs and three hits over 5 2/3 innings in Dodger Stadium.

The Reds called up rookie Daniel Wright from Triple-A Louisville to make his major league debut and he acquitted himself well over 5 ½ innings — four runs (three earned), seven hits, one walk and four strikeouts.

The defense let him down. Just as they did in Monday’s 1-0 loss to Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, the Reds made three errors.

A throwing error by catcher Tucker Barnhart led to the only run Monday. Another Barnhart throwing error and a booted ground ball by first baseman Joey Votto let in two unearned runs Tuesday.

WRIGHT, THE NINTH starting pitcher to make his debut for the Reds in the last two seasons, gave up a run in the first inning when the first three Dodgers singled — Chase Utley, Corey Saeger and a bloop-flair by Justin Turner made it 1-0.

When the Reds came to bat in the fourth they hadn’t scored a run in 17 innings and Bolsinger struck out Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips.

Trying to shake loose some offense, manager Bryan Price adjusted his batting order. He moved Votto from third to second, Phillips from fourth to third and Jay Bruce from fifth to fourth.

After the two strikeouts, Jay Bruce doubled. Then Adam Duvall, who had struck out six straight times, drilled his ninth home run over the left center wall to give the Reds a brief 2-1 lead.

IT LASTED ONLY until the Dodgers came to bat in the bottom of the fourth.

Trayce Thompson singled and scored from first on a double to left center to tie it, 2-2. Pederson then stole third and continued home when Barnhart’s throw zipped into left field for an error and a 3-2 LA lead.

The Dodgers added two more in the sixth when Thompson doubled and continued to third when right fielder Bruce bobbled the ball when it ricocheted off the wall.

Yasiel Puig singled off the right field wall, loafing to first base when he believed he had a home run, but a run scored on the play. Puig took second on a fielder’s choice and scored from there when Votto couldn’t handle pinch-hitter Howie Kendrick’s hard ground ball to make it 5-2.

AFTER FINALLY SCORING in the fourth to break the 17-inning drought, the Reds started another one. They went five more innings without scoring — two runs in 23 innings. The last 17 Reds made outs Monday against Kershaw and 16 of the lasst 17 made outs Tuesday.

They had three hits after four innings, and finished the game with three hits, giving them five hits in two games against the Dodgers.

Brandon Phillips is 2 for 30, Eugenio Suarez is 0 for 15 with 10 strikeouts, Jay Bruce is 1 for 19 and Joey Votto is hovering at .204.

IN ADDITION TO JUGGLING the batting order, Price is using as many new pitching faces as he can out of the bullpen.

Dayan Diaz followed Wright, making his second major league appearance and he gave up an unearned run (Votto’s error) and one hit in two-thirds of an inning. Then A.J. Morris made his major league debut in the eighth. He retired the first two major leaguers he saw, then walked three straight to fill the bases.

Then he gave up a two-run single to Justin Turner for a 7-2 lead. That was the end of the night for Morris. Walks continue to be the crippling disease in the bullpen and it is what gets a relief pitcher a ride back to Louisville on the shuttle.

Next up was left hander Josh Smith, another recent call-up. He quickly gave up a run-scoring single to Adrian Gonzalez and a walk before finally getting the final out.

SO AFTER MORRIS got the first two outs of the inning, the Dodgers scored three runs.

When the Reds visit Los Angeles they might be better served to skip the games and visit the La Brea tar pits or the Hollywood Walk of Fame or just sit in traffic on the vehicle-clogged LA freeways. In their last 33 games in LA they have won nine games. And the Reds have lost nine straight to the Dodgers.

And, of course, there is that road mystery. The Reds are 3-and-16 on the road this year.

In addition, Mike’s Car Wash in Cincinnati isn’t giving any discounts away this year on Bow-Tie Tuesday. Mike’s offers a discount when the Reds win on Tuesday. They are 2-and-11.

Finnegan’s best topped by Kershaw


They could have turned out the Dodger Stadium lights and emptied the Chavez Ravine parking lots after the sixth inning Monday night in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Dodgers scored a run in the sixth inning, the game’s only run, and that is all Clayton Kershaw needed as he pitched his third complete-game shutout of the season, 1-0, holding the Reds to two hits.

It was an unfortunate night for Reds starter Brandon Finnegan to pitch his best game of the season. He pitched a complete game, the Reds’ first, and held the Dodgers to five hits. And his teammates helped him by turning four double plays, although they also made three errors, two by catcher Tucker Barnhart and one by second baseman Brandon Phillips.

IT SEEMS ALMOST insane to say it, but Kershaw was not at his best, even while throwing a two-hit shutout — at least in the early innings. Then he retired the last 17 Reds in a row and completed his work day in two hours and 11 minutes.

But the Reds muffed early chances to score and if you don’t cash in on opportunities against Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young winner and a National League MVP, things turn ugly.

Zack Cozart picked on the first pitch of the game and slashed a double to left field. Billy Hamilton bunted him to third, but Joey Votto lined to shortstop and Brandon Phillips (2 for 25) grounded out — one of 15 ground ball outs thrown by Kershaw.

TUCKER BARNHART SINGLED to open the third, but Finnegan forced Barnhart at second on a bunt attempt, then both Cozart and Hamilton grounded out to third base.

And that was it. The party was over.

The Dodgers scored the game’s only run in the sixth and it began when Finnegan walked Justin Turner to start the inning. Catcher Barnhat had Turner picked off first base, but his throw short-hopped first baseman Joey Votto and Turner scooted to second. Adrian Gonzalez tried to check his swing and blooped one barely over third baseman Jordan Pacheco’s glove for a single that sent Turner to third.

Kyle Kendrick bounced into a double play, but Turner scored.

KERSHAW TOOK IT from there, despite striking out only seven. Only? Well in his previous six starts he had struck out 10 or more and walked one or fewer — a major league record.

And when he walked Votto to open the fourth, it was only his fifth walk of the entire season (he has struck out 95). In addition, he had gone to a three-ball count to only 29 hitters all year but went to three-ball counts on Votto three times, but walked him just that once.

After the Votto walk, Phillips hit into a 6-4-3 double play.

So, Kershaw, a long, tall left handed Texan is 7-and-1 with a 1.48 earned run average and the Reds pushed their losing streak to eight straight and they’ve lost 13 of their last 15. It was the fourth time the Reds have been shut out this season.

KERSHAW USED 101 pitches for his complete game and he pitches in a definite pattern — fastballs early in the count, sliders in the middle of the count and a big, bending slow curve with two strikes.

“I’ve seen enough of Clayton Kershaw over the last seven or eight years,” manager Bryan Price told Fox Sports Ohio after the game. “But I’m really proud of Brandon Finnegan. He was sensational.”

Hitters know the pattern but Kershaw executes them so magnificently that it doesn’t matter. He could tell hitters what is coming and he still would be difficult to hit.


Rookie Daniel Murphy makes his major league debut Tuesday night in the Dodger Stadium cauldron after pitching only two games this year at Triple-A Louisville. He started at Class AA Pensacola and was recently promoted. In his last start he pitched a complete-game shutout and was named International League Pitcher of the Week.

Just another ‘Loss in the Park’ for the Reds

By Hal McCoy

For Cincinnati Reds fans watching games on television they should treat them as if they are watching ’60 Minutes.’ They should watch for 60 minutes and turn it off because nothing good is going to happen after that.

And when Eugenio Suarez comes to the plate, take a bathroom break. Suarez has struck out 10 times in his last 11 official at bats (he walked once).

Because of what is happening this season, even when the Reds put their first four batters on base in the first inning and score three runs, the rest of the game is viewed with trepidation.

Even when they have a 4-2 lead in the fourth inning, fans await the impending disaster.

ALL THAT IS WHAT happened, again, Sunday afternoon in Great American Ball Park when the Reds lost their seventh straight game, 5-4, to the Seattle Mariners. They’ve lost 12 of their last 14 and went 0-and-5 on the just-completed homestand.

They came out swinging in the first inning against Seattle left hander Wade Miley. Zack Cozart doubled, Billy Hamilton was hit by a pitch, Joey Votto singled to fill the bases and Brandon Phillips, 1 for 18 at the time, doubled home two runs. And they added a third run on Jay Bruce’s sacrifice fly.

SO THERE IT WAS, a 3-0 lead. Adam Duvall clubbed a 457-foot home run in the fourth to give the Reds a 4-2 lead.

Then it was like somebody squeezed the garden hose with the tap on — the faucet was on but nothing came out.

Over the last four innings the Reds scored no runs on two hits and the last 10 went down in order.

And this was one that couldn’t be blamed on the bullpen.

STARTER ALFREDO SIMON (1-and-5, 10.16 earned run average) gave up all five runs, nine hits and three walks over his five innings.

New relief pitcher Dion Diaz, making his major league debut, gave up a hit but no runs in his one inning. Blake Wood pitched two scoreless innings and Tony Cingrani pitched one scoreless inning.

All that came, though, with the Reds behind. They weren’t trying to protect a lead or a tie.

Simon, keeping his pitches low in the zone, especially his splitter, kept the Mariners at bay for two innings, but gave up two runs in the third.

IT ALL STARTED when Simon gave up a single to opposing pitcher Wade Miley on a 0-and-2 pitch to begin the inning. Leonys Martin also singled. With one out Robinson Cano singled for a run and another run scored on a Nelson Cruz ground ball, cutting it to 3-2.

Duvall’s fourth-inning home run, his eighth, made it 4-2, but a three-run Mariners outburst in the fifth sealed Simon’s fate.

Leonys Martin bunted and was called out at first, but a replay/review revealed he was safe. Norichicki Aoki singled off second baseman Brandon Phillips’ glove.

Cano lofted a sacrifice fly to center to make it 4-3 and Kyle Saeger singled to left to tie it. Steve Clevenger, a light-hitting catcher (.175) singled to left for the go-ahead run that put the Mariners in front, 5-4.

And that’s the way it stayed the rest of the way as Seattle lifted its major-league best road record to 18-and-5.

Now it gets really tough for the Reds. They hit the road for 10 games, lugging their 3-and-14 road record with them. It begins Monday night against Clayton Kershaw in Dodger Stadium, the first of three games against the Dodgers. Then they play three in Milwaukee and four in Denver against the Colorado Rockies.

When the trip is finished, it isn’t likely it will be like, ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home’ when they straggle into Great American Ball Park.


This one can’t be pinned on the bullpen


CINCINNATI — With his long, curly blond hair and blond bushy mustache, Cincinnati Reds pitcher John Lamb resembles a Daguerrotype of General George Armstrong Custer.

And continuing the military motif on Saturday afternoon in Great American Ball Park, the Cincinnati Reds wore camouflage jerseys

The Seattle Mariners and King Felix Hernandez recognized Lamb and the Reds for what they are these days and applied a 4-0 headlock, Cincinnati’s sixth straight loss.

LAMB GAVE UP an early home run in the second inning to Leonys Martin with two outs in the second inning.

The Reds, though, had a crack at cracking King Felix in the third after he retired the first eight Reds. With two outs in the third, Lamb chopped one in front of the plate for an infield hit, Billy Hamilton poked a single to left and Tyler Holt walked.

That filled the bases for Joey Votto and he crossed swords with King Felix for eight pitches before lining a 2-and-2 pitch at Hernandez’s feet and King Felix stabbed it to end the uprising.

It all got away in the fourth when Lamb gave up back-to-back singles to Nelson Cruz and Dae-Ho Lee to open the inning. Then with one out Franklin Gutierrez launched a down-range home run that needed a parachute landing clearance, a 473-foot trip that landed two-thirds of the way up in the second deck, a three-run rip that made it 4-0.

AMAZINGLY, THE REDS filled the bases with two outs in the fifth and this time Votto grounded out to first, stranding six runners in two successive at bats.

The Reds filled the bases in the third and the fifth without scoring and went 1-2-3 in the other seven innings.

Hernandez went six and gave up no runs and four hits and didn’t have to face a resting Zack Cozart and a sore-backed Jay Bruce, the two best offensive weapons the Reds have of late.

The third, fourth, fifth and sixth spots in the Reds order did not get on base. Joey Votto was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, Brandon Phillips was 0 for 4, Eugenio Suarez was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts and Adam Duvall was 0 for 4. For the math challenged, that’s 0 for 16 with five strikeouts from the heart of the order.

“It didn’t work out today because we didn’t put a ton of pressure on them from an offensive standpoint,” said manager Bryan Price. “We were never able to get anything started, didn’t put our leadoff guys on.”

IT IS EASY TO put the blame for this one at Votto’s feet for stranding six, but Price jumped to his defense by saying, “He is human and he really wants to do something, be a difference-maker because he obviously knows we are in a huge hole right now. He want to be a big part of getting that turned around.

“When you have your No. 3 hitter struggling (.204) we have to collectively be better,” Price added. “We can’t throw so much on his shoulders to carry the load as we have to spread out the wealth and get it done with some of the other guys, too.”

Lamb lasted six innings and gave up four runs and six hits before departing and Price had to go to the usual suspects in the bullpen.

AND THERE WAS an alternative candidate sitting in the press box. Joy Dulen, a military journalist stationed in Fort Knox, KY., revealed she played for the Colorado Silver Bullets in 1997. The Silver Bullets, coached by Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro, were a women’s hardball team that played men’s teams and was sponsored by Coors beer.

“We were short of arms and I was about ready to pitch when the team was disbanded and Coors began its Coors Light NASCAR sponsorship,” said Dulen, who played softball at Western Michigan University.

Hey, could she do any worse?

Amazingly, the Reds bullpen pitched three shutout innings after Lamb let the dogs out, but after the game three members of the bullpen were shuffled off.

Jumbo Diaz and Keyvious Sampson, both recalled earlier this week (Wednesday), were optioned back to Louisville and Steve Delabar was designated for assignment.

The three replacement parts in the bullpen will be announced before Sunday’s game.

“We’re having a hard time finding a way to make guys comfortable in roles and to pitch well enough to define roles,” said Price. “Whate we have to shoot for now is guys who historically throw balls over the plate and maybe have a higher ground ball rate. And we have to do something that says it is not OK (to walk people and give up home runs). We’re just not competitive enough from a pitching perspective. At some point in time the bell tolls where there has to be change.”

That bell has been clanging for a long time now, so long and so loud the clapper might be broken.

Stop if you heard this one, ‘The bullpen. . .’


CINCINNATI — The Seattle Mariners were, like most teams who play the Cincinnati Reds these days, a ticking time bomb that goes off as soon as the bullpen arrives on the scene.

It’s the same thing over and over and over again for the Reds, Groundhog Day to the extreme.

On a soggy Friday night in Great American Ball Park Reds starter Dan Straily pitched his posterior off, holding the Mariners scoreless for six innings despite putting runners on base in five of the six innings.

STRAGGLY, OUT OF PITCHS after throwing 110. turned over a two-run lead to the bullpen in the seventh and it disappeared faster than a speeding bullet. Blake Wood and Tony Cingrani gave up four runs and the Mariners triumphed, 8-3.

Wood didn’t retire any of the four batters he faced and walked in a run. Cingrani came on and hit Robinson Cano with his first pitch to force in the tying run. He struck out the next two but pinch-hitter Dae-Ho Lee poked a two-run single to right to push the Mariners in front.

“We’re all trying to do every thing we can to win a game,” said manager Bryan Price. “It is too much work right now, too much work to try to find the magic potion to finish a game, to get through nine innings. We have to pitch better or we have to find better, one of the two.”

SUCH IS LIFE THESE days with the Reds. And here is how the time bomb kept ticking:

—The Mariners put a runner on first with one out in the first inning and didn’t score.

Tick, tick, tick, tick.

—They loaded the bases with two outs in the second inning and didn’t score.

Tick, tick, tick, tick.

—They put the leadoff man on in the fourth inning and didn’t score.

Tick, tick, tick, tick.

—They put the leadoff man on in the fifth inning and didn’t score.

Tick, tick, tick, tick.

—They put the leadoff man on base for the fourth time in six innings when Straily hit Robinson Canoe with a pitch. This time the Mariners scored on Kyle Seager’s double. Then center fielder Billy Hamilton saved a run by outrunning Adam Lind’s long liner to left center and snagging it.

Tick, tick, tick, tick.

THEN CAME THE bullpen and ka-boom and ka-blooey.

And Price defended the much-troubled Cingrani.

“I got nothing but praise for Tony Cingrani, coming into not an almost impossible situation but very difficult in trying to maintain the (3-2) lead, bases loaded and no outs,” said Price. “He threw a first-pitch back-up slider and hit Robinson Cano, certainly not what he wanted to do.”

That tied it, 3-3, then he struck out Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager and as Price said, “He made two great pitches on two big hitters in Cruz and Seager. Then Lee did a nice job of staying on a fastball and shooting it to right field (for two runs and a 5-3 lead). I got no complaints (about Cingrani) because he is coming in and attacking people.”

AFTER WOOD AND Cingrani gave up four in the seventh, J.C. Ramirez gave up another in the eighth just to make it even more difficult for the Reds’ offense to come back.

And to make it even more difficult, Jumbo Diaz joined the run-giving parade by throwing home run balls in the ninth to Nelson Cruz, who had struck out three straight times, and to Lee, who drove in three runs in two at bats after coming off the bench.

Incredibly, the Reds have given up 30 home runs after the seventh inning this season in their first 42 games.

THE REDS CONSTRUCTED a 3-0 lead after four innings against Seattle starter Hisahi Iwakuma. They scored one in the first on a two-out double by Brandon Phillips, one in the third on Zack Cozart’s leadoff home run and one in the third on Tucker Barnhart’s single.

Then, as happens so often after a bullpen blow-up, the offense turned off the ignition switch — no runs and three hits over the final five innings. Barnhart had two of those hits and one was a bunt single. And the Reds had eight hits for the night, three by Barnhart.

“We had the nice six-inning start from Straily, but he had 110 pitches and there was no chance to send him back out,” said Price. “We have to be able to get nine outs and it was very challenging to get there and we didn’t get there.”

STRAILY WAS DOWNon himself for not getting through seven innings instead of six.

“I have to find a way to get my pitch-count down early in games to take us deeper into games,” he said. “I knew my count was climbing and six was all I had tonight.”

After his team lost its fifth straight and ninth in its last 11 Straily said, “Every guy in this clubhouse feels it and not one person in here is happy with losing night after night. Everybody is coming in early to work. The clubhouse opens at 11 and there are guys here before that working on something. Everybody wants to get better and nobody enjoys losing. We’re finding a way to lose — some bad execution and some bad luck, a combination of both.”