Reds start off strong, falter down stretch in loss

Reds start off strong, falter down stretch in loss

Reds start off strong, falter down stretch in loss
NEW YORK -- Even the jet noise from next door at LaGuardia Airport couldn't drown out the thud the Reds collectively had as they fell hard at Citi Field on Thursday afternoon.

When dissecting a 9-4 loss to the Mets, where does one start? Over the final five innings, just about every portion of the team contributed to the ugliest of outcomes. The lineup was 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. The defense committed two errors. And the bullpen had the rarity of giving up a lead.

Cincinnati was up, 4-0, through 4 1/2 innings before the Mets scored nine unanswered runs.

"It wasn't pretty today, that's for sure," said Reds reliever Logan Ondrusek, who took the loss after allowing five runs in the bottom of the eighth. It ended his season-long scoreless streak at 15 1/3 innings.

Joey Votto gave the Reds a 1-0 lead when he hit a fourth-inning home run to right field off Mets starter R.A. Dickey. A three-run Reds fifth followed before everything fell apart.

The erosion began as starter Mat Latos faltered in the fifth and started running up his pitch count. A runner was on second base when he issued a two-out walk to David Wright. That set up Lucas Duda to line a two-run double through the gap in right-center field and cut the lead to two runs.

In the sixth, the Reds had runners on second and third and no outs and didn't score. The death of the rally started when Jay Bruce fouled out on a popup behind first base. As second baseman Daniel Murphy caught the ball with his back to the plate, Votto tagged up and tried to score from third base. He was easily thrown out for the double play.

"We were potentially about to blow that game open there," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It wasn't a bad play on Joey. It was a good play by the second baseman."

A leadoff double from Todd Frazier in the seventh was also wasted.

Latos returned for the sixth and issued a leadoff four-pitch walk to Ike Davis, who entered the day a .167 hitter. Ronny Cedeno followed with a grounded single into left field. Against reliever J.J. Hoover, Mike Nickeas sacrifice bunted to third base, but Frazier bobbled the ball for an error. It set up a third Mets run when Mike Baxter sent a sacrifice fly to left field.

"I just have to come out, attack the zone and throw strikes. I didn't," said Latos, who has a 4.63 ERA after eight starts. "I walked the first batter on four straight pitches. Obviously, it's something I'm not trying to do. The second batter, it was the wrong pitch for me to throw. It was a ground ball, but it was a bad pitch by me."

Latos finished with 100 pitches over five-plus innings, with three runs, seven hits, three walks and seven strikeouts.

"It's just the way it's been going for me lately," Latos said of his high pitch counts. "Sometimes I'm not executing my pitches and it gets my pitch count up. Sometimes I feel like we fall in love with the same pitch over and over again and you have guys that battle."

Even Reds lefty Aroldis Chapman, who had 19 1/3 scoreless innings of relief for the season, was consumed in the wreckage of the afternoon.

Chapman started the seventh with a leadoff walk to Wright and a Duda single. Murphy flied to short center field, where the ball skipped off of Drew Stubbs' glove during a sliding catch attempt.

That error loaded the bases and enabled pinch-hitter Justin Turner to sky a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Wright with the tying run from third base. It was an unearned run on Chapman's ledger.

"Drew usually catches that ball," Baker said. "It just went off the side of his glove. That's how the ball started dropping for them."

In the eighth, after a Rob Johnson bunt single, Ondrusek thought he had Wright struck out on a 2-2 pitch. No such luck, and Wright hit the next pitch to the left-field wall for a two-run double to raise his average to .411.

"One pitch, one at-bat changed the whole tone of the inning there," said Ondrusek, who saw his ERA go from 0.00 to 2.76 in one inning. "I thought it was really close. It's up to the umpire. That's the way it is sometimes. I needed to make a better pitch on the next one. I left it over the plate a little bit for him and he put a really good swing on it."

Before it was over, Cedeno -- a .185 hitter entering -- lifted a first pitch from Ondrusek for a three-run homer, his first of the season.

The Reds split the two-game series with the Mets and are 2-2 on the road trip that continues across town with three Interleague games against the Yankees.

"We didn't play well the last five innings. They didn't play well the first four," Baker said. "The last five certainly did us in."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.