Reds can't cash in against Penny, drop series

Offense quiet after Bruce homer; Heisey picked off first base in ninth

Reds can't cash in against Penny, drop series

CINCINNATI -- The last time Marlins right-hander Brad Penny started against the Reds before Saturday was on May 16, 2010, when he pitched for the Cardinals.

Six of the players in Cincinnati's starting lineup that night no longer are with the team, and two more -- Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto -- are on the disabled list. The only holdover, Jay Bruce, hit a solo homer off Penny, but the Reds didn't do much with their other six hits in a 4-3 loss to the Marlins.

"We were surprised to hear that when we got in today," Bruce said about Penny, who made his first appearance in the Major Leagues since 2012, and first start since '11. "Other than minus-2 mph, he was pretty much the same guy. He didn't throw quite as hard, but he had the same style. You are who you are when it comes to that kind of stuff."

The two pitching staffs combined to issue 13 walks, eight by Reds pitchers, as the team lost a second straight game for the first time since July 27-28, slipping to 8-14 since the All-Star break.

The Reds saw a possible ninth-inning rally cut off almost before it got started. Chris Heisey led off against sidearming closer Steve Cishek with a single to center field, only to be picked off. Cincinnati manager Bryan Price called the play "a mistake."

"Nobody feels worse than him," Price said.

"In a nutshell, it wasn't a well-played game by either side. They outlasted us. There were a lot of walks for both teams. They did what they needed to do. Our execution wasn't there."

"It was huge," Cishek said. "Lately, it's been tough to get an out. I'm trying to invent new ways to get outs, I guess. I was going to throw over anyways, because it's a 3-2 count. He was going to be going anyways. Thankfully, I caught him off guard."

Sam LeCure (1-3), who had a 1.50 ERA over his previous 14 appearances starting on June 28, opened the sixth inning for Cincinnati and walked leadoff batter Jarrod Saltalamacchia, setting up a two-run Miami rally that snapped a 2-2 tie.

Cincinnati's Alfredo Simon snapped his streak of consecutive losing starts at four, escaping with a no-decision after giving up runs in each of the first two innings. The right-hander, who was 12-3 before pitching for the National League in the All-Star Game, allowed four hits and five walks with five strikeouts, getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth by coaxing Marcell Ozuna into an inning-ending groundout.

"It really comes down to pitch execution," Price said. "They hit the first four balls on the screws. He got to two strikes on a handful of guys, but he would leave the ball up. He's not executing like he was. His arm is behind him and he's getting balls up."

Bruce, who had at least one hit in five of his previous six games, tied the score in the first with his 12th homer of the season, a 417-foot shot into the right-field seats on 3-1 pitch.

Billy Hamilton's speed sparked another rally in the third, as he reached on a perfect bunt up the first-base line. Hamilton went to third on first baseman Garrett Jones' error on Bruce's sharp one-hopper, and the speedster scored on Todd Frazier's single to center after Bruce stole second.

Bruce was thrown out at the plate by center fielder Ozuna on the play -- pushing the count of Reds players thrown out at home in non-force situations to 24.

Devin Mesoraco led off the eighth against reliever Bryan Morris with a double into the left-field corner, but he could only get to third on pinch-hitter Brayan Pena's single that one-hopped the right-field wall. Mesoraco scored on Skip Schumaker's fielder's-choice grounder.

Pena, playing with a tight left hamstring, extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games.

The 36-year-old Penny (1-0) allowed four hits and two runs -- one earned -- with four walks and three strikeouts in five innings. He improved to 8-4 in his career against Cincinnati.

Mark Schmetzer is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.