Batting against new Pirates reliever Joakim Soria in the seventh inning with the bases loaded and two outs with his team down by a run, the Reds catcher hit a screaming line drive up the middle. But an alert Soria reflexively caught the ball to end the rally while Pena threw up his hands in frustration.
"I was thinking about getting that run in, at least tying the game or something to give ourselves a chance," Pena said. "Man, he caught it. I'm not one of those guys to react like that. In that situation, I was pretty upset for him to make that play."
The Reds went on to lose the game to Pittsburgh, 5-4.
In the top of the sixth when it was a 3-3 game, Pena was behind the plate for two wild pitches, including one by reliever Jumbo Diaz that scored the go-ahead run for the Pirates.
Soria, who was acquired from the Tigers on Thursday and added to the roster on Friday, had given up a two-out walk, a single and another walk to bring Pena to the plate. Pena wanted a hit, badly.
"I feel like tonight, this one was on me. I had a chance to redeem myself in that at-bat," he said. "I was trying to do whatever it takes to redeem myself. I knew he was a pretty good athlete, but I didn't expect him to make that play the way he did. That changed the game."
The Reds wound up going 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position in the game and stranded 10 men. There was another chance to tie the game or win it in the bottom of the ninth against closer Mark Melancon.
With runners on first and second and one out, Todd Frazier hit a single to left field, and Phillips was waved around to score before being thrown out by Starling Marte. The Reds challenged the call because they thought the collision rule was violated, but the call was confirmed.
The next batter, Marlon Byrd, hit a liner to left field, but Marte made a diving catch to end the game.
"In this case, I don't think we beat ourselves. They went out and won the game," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Pena has a great at-bat, lines the ball back up the middle and Soria makes a really nice catch. That's at least a one run base hit up the middle, if not a two-run single. Then Marte comes up big two times."