It took the best team in the National League, a game-ending double play with the tying run at third, a dire deficit of starting pitching and about 24 hours for the Cincinnati Reds’ longest winning streak in 66 years to turn into their first losing streak in more than two weeks.
The back-to-back losses to the Atlanta Braves, including Sunday’s 7-6 loss at sold-out Great American Ball Park, also meant the first series loss for the first-place Reds since the first week of the month.
But not before the Reds rallied again in the ninth inning, with Jake Fraley and Jonathan India delivering back-to-back one-out singles to put runners at the corners against former Reds closer Raisel Iglesias.
Kevin Newman fouled off three two-strike pitches before grounding into the game-ending 5-4-3 double play.
‘Tough to beat’: Pete Rose says he’s betting on surprising Reds to win World Series
Reds’ starting pitching: Team can no longer wait for GM Nick Krall to make trade
Sunday’s loss wasn’t for lack of rookie firepower, with Matt McLain providing a career-high five RBIs on the third-inning double that led to the Reds’ first run, a tying two-run double in the fourth, a seventh-inning solo home run that cut into a three-run deficit, and another two-run double in the eighth that made it a one-run game.
It also wasn’t for lack of cash-powered electricity in the ballpark, with fans providing a third straight sellout at GABP for the first time in seven years — matching in three days the number of home sellouts the Reds drew in their first 38 home games this season.
In fact, you couldn’t even blame this one on the starting pitching, considering the Reds were down to emergency fill-in Levi Stoudt, who was called up from Triple-A Louisville to take the injured Ben Lively’s start Sunday.
And the group that Braves manager Brian Snitker called a bunch of “pesky guys” even came back from a 3-0 deficit to tie it in the fourth and almost again in the eighth, thanks to McLain, but just didn’t have enough magic left to do it again and add to their major-league-leading total of 27 come-from-behind wins.
They finish the season series against the NL East-leading Braves with just one win in six meetings, but five of the six were decided by one run (including an extra-inning game in Atlanta), and the sixth was decided by two.
Now they head to a quick three-game road trip to Baltimore after a 4-2 homestand that included four of those comeback wins — but, perhaps predictably, did not produce a win from the starting rotation.
The Reds have trailed in seven consecutive games, in fact, as they struggle to find a fix for the starting mix, with only one quality start (by Andrew Abbott) produced during that seven-game stretch.
Along the way, they put two more starters on the injured list: Hunter Greene with recurring hip and back soreness and Lively with a pec strain.
“He’s a tough guy. There’s no way he could have pitched; he tried,” Bell said of Lively, who is expected to get an MRI in the next day or two. “He was pretty devastated that he couldn’t pitch. That alone makes me think it’s significant enough that it might be a few weeks before we see him back. We’ll know more once he gets the MRI.”
The Reds got as much as they had a right to expect from Stoudt, who had made just two short starts for Louisville since a brief stretch on the Triple-A injured list with soreness behind his shoulder — and who was probably stretched too far in the third after running out of gas.
Stoudt got two outs deep into the third inning on 45 pitches — two more than he’d thrown in either of those last two starts for Louisville — and trailed 1-0 with nobody on, before a six-pitch walk to Austin Riley.
An eight-pitch walk and a run-scoring single followed before the bullpen stirred, and by the time 30-year-old rookie Randy Wynne was warmed for his big-league debut, another single and walk made it 3-0 and loaded the bases. Stoudt got No. 9 hitter Michael Harris II to line to left on another hard-hit ball for the final out of his start — on his 71st pitch.
Wynne, called up Sunday morning as long-man insurance against a short start, pitched two scoreless innings in his debut to nurse a 3-3 game to the sixth before allowing a one-out double to Ronald Acuna Jr. and giving way to Ian Gibaut.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Reds fall short in 9th, drop 2nd straight to Atlanta Braves
Source: Yahoo Sports