CINCINNATI -- Brandon Phillips fell and couldn't get up in time to avoid an out on Thursday. Stuck in a losing streak, the Reds are trying to pick themselves up as a group, but are finding it hard to put themselves into positions to win.
Thursday's 5-3 defeat to the Cubs extended Cincinnati's losing streak to 12 games and its record to 63-96. The last time the team lost this many games in a row was Sept. 10-22, 1993. The No. 1 film at the box office then was "The Fugitive," starring Harrison Ford. But this current team isn't running away from its struggles and continues to try to work out of it.
"There's your little caveat to a terrible season, is the fact the guys haven't quit," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It's ugly to lose 12 straight. It's ugly to have 90-plus losses into October. The only thing that could make it uglier would be to quit. The guys haven't quit. We won't quit. We'll play hard in Pittsburgh, finish out the year and then kind of reassess where we are and regroup for next year."
The September schedule did the Reds no favors, either, as they will play their fourth-straight series against a playoff-bound team in the Pirates at PNC Park on Friday to finish the season. The Reds' last 13-game losing streak was in 1945.
On Wednesday, the Reds became assured to finish last in the National League Central, which is the organization's first last-place finish since 1983, the longest cellar-avoiding streak in the four major sports. Incidentally, the No. 1 movie that year was another Harrison Ford vehicle -- "Return of the Jedi."
The new leader will be the NBA's San Antonio Spurs, who last finished at the bottom of their division in 1987, according to ESPN.
"I always go back to that we're professionals and are here to do our job," Reds right fielder Jay Bruce said. "We have the opportunity to come out every day and win a game. We need to be ready for that opportunity. We just have to play better, that's the bottom line. It's been the theme all year. It has not been fun. It has not gone the way we wanted it to or expected from a team standpoint or from an individual standpoint."
The Reds trailed 5-0 after five innings before narrowing the deficit. A chance to make something happen was lost in the sixth after Phillips led off with a double and stole third base with no outs. Bruce hit a popup to short left field that was caught by third baseman Javier Baez. Phillips moved up and down the line pretending to be tagging up, but fell down on the wet grass. That was all the Cubs needed to get him into a rundown before Phillips was out in a double play.
"I think he was trying to draw a throw," Price said. "The problem with that in a 5-0 game, is you can't lose your footing, which he did."
The problems run deeper than one bad play or a handful of mistakes. The Reds' all-rookie rotation hasn't provided a quality start since John Lamb on Sept. 21 vs. the Cardinals. In the losing streak, starters are 0-9 with a 6.87 ERA. In the past 12 games, Cincinnati has been outscored, 83-28.
"Games get away and tend to get out of hand early, and it's just hard to battle back, it really is," Price said.
Price insisted that his club would keep fighting to get wins.
"It has to be pride," Price said. "It's hard enough to walk in the day after day and lose and look at your record and realize we're in last place. That certainly wasn't the expectation coming into the season. We are not the same club as we were coming out of Spring Training. That being said, there's no excuse not to win some games along the way."