Eury De La Rosa's eighth-inning wild pitch allowed Shin-Soo Choo to score from third base with what proved to be the game-winner as the D-backs fell, 2-1, to the Reds at Great American Ball Park.
With the loss, the D-backs, who dropped three of four in the series, fell to seven games behind the Reds for the second National League Wild Card spot. Arizona trails the first-place Dodgers by 9 1/2 games in the NL West with 36 games to play.
The D-backs came to town earlier this week feeling like they had some momentum after winning two of three in Pittsburgh -- including a 16-inning marathon victory in the finale.
"It's extremely tough," outfielder Adam Eaton said of dropping the series to the Reds. "We come in here with a big win in Pittsburgh and we were flying here with high hopes. It's a good team. Guys can pitch it, they can throw it and we just ended up on the wrong side of things in three of four, so it's tough."
Especially considering the way they lost Thursday's finale.
"They scored both their runs on wild pitches," manager Kirk Gibson said. "That's tough to swallow."
The D-backs had four wild pitches on the day, bringing their total to 69 -- 14 more than the next-closest NL team.
Choo led off the eighth with a single off De La Rosa and advanced to second when De La Rosa's pickoff throw got by first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
The official scorer charged a throwing error to De La Rosa, but after the game, Goldschmidt claimed responsibility.
"It's just a ball I need to catch," he said.
Todd Frazier then sacrificed Choo to third, and he scored when De La Rosa tried to go inside with a 3-2 fastball to Joey Votto and the ball went too far inside and tipped off the glove of catcher Wil Nieves.
"We had pitched him away, away, away, and then we tried to throw one fastball in to Votto, because I saw him kind of leaning out," Nieves said. "He just let it go and I was surprised that it didn't hit Votto. It hit the tip of my glove. I thought for sure it hit him. Choo scored there."
That proved to be the difference, but early on it looked like it was going to be an ugly day for the D-backs.
Their bullpen was already tired from Brandon McCarthy lasting just 2 1/3 innings the night before, and starter Trevor Cahill was laboring mightily in the third inning. Reliever Josh Collmenter was already warming up.
Yet Cahill managed to right the ship.
After retiring the side in order in the first and getting two outs with a runner on second in the second inning, Cahill seemed to lose his release point, as he walked the Nos. 7 and 8 hitters to load the bases for pitcher Mat Latos.
Cahill was able to strike out Latos to end the inning, but it didn't take him long to find trouble again.
In the third, Cahill allowed a single and walked another two batters while throwing three wild pitches as the Reds took a 1-0 lead.
Once again, Cahill somehow managed to limit the damage and escape the inning.
"Most of the stuff I was missing with was the sinker to the glove side," Cahill said, referring to inside on lefties and outside on righties. "I came in [after the third] and kind of refocused myself. I was better after that."
From then on, he seemed to be on cruise control, allowing just two more hits while not walking a batter before leaving after seven innings.
"Cahill did a great job after that inning and gave us a really good game," Nieves said.
The D-backs tied the game in the fourth thanks to an RBI single by Aaron Hill, but that was the only run they could manage off Latos, who scattered five hits over eight innings.
Sam LeCure closed things out in the ninth for the Reds to earn his first Major League save.
"This was a huge series for us," LeCure said. "That's a real good ballclub. They fought big time. I think, honestly, it inspired me a little bit. I felt like last night they were playing like this was Game 162 and if they won it, they got in the playoffs. They really grind out some at-bats and don't go outside of their zone too much. That's a testament to the type of baseball that we can play, to go out and beat a team like that."