Despite Ludwick's heroics, Reds fall in 10

Despite Ludwick's heroics, Reds fall in 10

Despite Ludwick's heroics, Reds fall in 10
CINCINNATI -- While they weren't as rare as this week's Transit of Venus anomaly, two things happened to the Reds that you won't see often during Thursday's 5-4 loss to the Pirates in 10 innings.

A three-time Gold Glove second baseman, Brandon Phillips, had a mental lapse in the field that led to a go-ahead run in the seventh. And Aroldis Chapman not only gave up his first earned run of the season, it was the one that gave Pittsburgh the winning run in the top of the 10th.

"He's human. We're all human," Phillips said of Chapman. "They had to hit him one day."

In a game that was even on three different occasions, Chapman took over in the top of the 10th in a 4-4 tie. In a full count against leadoff batter Clint Barmes, Chapman gave up a ground-rule double that hopped over the left-center field fence.

Beginning with a bunt attempt, Michael McKenry fouled off a 98-mph fastball. Later, in a 1-2 count, McKenry roped a 99-mph Chapman pitch for an RBI double to the wall in right-center field that scored the game-winner.

"You still have butterflies after a game like that," said McKenry, who is batting only .193. "He's a special arm. You just have to go up there with the mindset to battle and put the ball in play. It was a fastball, middle, middle-away. You have to prepare for the 100-mph heater. I just reacted to it"

Snapped in the process was Chapman's club-record 24 straight appearances without an earned run allowed to start the season. That covered a span of 29 innings, which led the Majors. Entering the night, he had allowed only seven hits.

"You knew it was going to end some day. You didn't want it to end like this," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Barmes battled and battled and battled and finally centered one. McKenry, who got the big sac fly earlier, hit a good pitch into right-center field. When they catch up to Chapman's fastball, it's going to go hard some place if they center it."

The first-place Reds dropped two of three in a series to the second-place Pirates for the second time in just over a week. Their National League Central lead was trimmed to two games over a team that is battling hard in the division, despite ranking 16th out of 16 teams in batting average.

Losing to Pittsburgh was particularly frustrating for the Reds, because they fought so hard to stay in the game. Jay Bruce's second-inning home run off of Kevin Correia gave Cincinnati a 1-0 lead, the only advantage they enjoyed all night.

Reds starter Mike Leake gave up four runs and seven hits over seven well-pitched innings. Leake did not walk a batter and struck out five. After going nine-up, nine-down over the first three innings, Leake gave up two runs in the fourth to fall behind.

Leading off the bottom of the fifth against Correia, Ludwick crushed the first-pitch 420 feet to left field for his first homer of the night to make it a 2-2 game.

It was a 3-3 game with a runner on first base in the Pittsburgh seventh when Phillips made a miscue following a Barmes sacrifice bunt to the right side. After receiving the putout throw at first base, Phillips put his head down and had his back to the infield. Jose Tabata alertly took an extra base on the play and ended up on third.

"He caught Brandon sleeping on that play, assuming he wasn't going to go," Baker said.

Phillips immediately pointed to himself and took responsibility, but the lapse still cost the Reds. It enabled Tabata to score the go-ahead run when McKenry followed with a sacrifice fly to center field.

"I just tried to make sure I caught the ball at first base on a high throw," Phillips said of his mistake. "I caught the ball and forgot about the guy being on second base. I just tried to make sure I got an out. All you can say is the guy [Tabata] made a good play. I didn't hear anything. For some reason, I looked up and tried to make a good throw to third base. It wasn't in time."

Ludwick picked up Phillips in the ninth when he slugged a 96-mph first pitch from closer Joel Hanrahan 431 feet and into the left-field upper bleachers for his second game-tying homer.

"He beat their best in Hanrahan and they beat our best in Chapman," Baker said. "It was a very good ballgame. We just came up on the short end."

Even after Chapman gave up the go-ahead run in the 10th, the Reds had a chance to get him off the hook, too. Joey Votto led off with his third hit, a double to left-center field. A one-out Bruce intentional walk put the winning run on first base, but Chris Resop got a foul pop from Todd Frazier and struck out Ludwick looking to end it.

"We didn't advance them or get them in," Baker said. "We had chances, big-time to at least tie that game up or possibly go ahead with the winning run on first base. It's tough to take, but they played us hard this series."

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.