McCoy: Missed opportunities doom Reds, who fall further behind in playoff chase

With 6-2 loss to Pirates, Cincinnati falls four games behind Cardinals with 10 games to play

The clock says it is five minutes ‘til midnight on the Cincinnati Reds’ chances to grab the National League’s second wild card spot.

The Reds spent Tuesday night standing on the bases begging to be driven in, but it didn’t happen, and it cost them a disastrous 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The St. Louis Cardinals won their 10th straight game, beating Milwaukee, 2-1, and are four games up on the Reds with 10 to play.

“It stinks, it really does, losing games like that,” said Kyle Farmer, who had three singles but struck out with the bases loaded to end the seventh inning. “We started good the first couple of innings, then died out. We had our opportunities with the bases loaded twice. Give their pitcher credit, he got two of our best hitters out with the bases loaded.”

That was three of the best hitters — Nick Castellanos, Joey Votto and Farmer in the seventh inning when the Reds trailed by only 3-2.

“It’s like you get punched in the stomach and the air gets knocked out of you,” said Farmer. “There are no words to describe it. It is just hard. We needed that big hit, and it didn’t come.”

The Reds had the bases loaded with no outs twice and managed but one run. They were 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position — and that hit didn’t produce a run — and they stranded 11 runners.

A perfect display of how frustrating the night was for the Reds was the fact leadoff hitter Jonathan India was on base four times via three walks and a single, but never scored.

Pittsburgh had lost 13 straight games in Great American Ball Park and Cincinnati starter Tyler Mahle was 4-0 with a 0.97 earned run average in his last five starts against the Pirates.

None of that mattered to the pesky Pirates, playing loose with nothing to lose and nothing to gain.

After hitting four home runs in the series opener Monday, the Reds had only one extra base hit, an eighth-inning double by Eugenio Suarez, and nine singles.

“We felt like we were in the driver’s seat all night, but we didn’t push hard on the gas pedal,” said Farmer. “That’s what we need to do in these kinds of games.”

Farmer put some fault on himself when the Reds led, 2-1, in the third and he was on third base. A pitch eluded catcher Michael Perez and rolled about 10 feet up the first base line. Farmer probably could have scored but didn’t try.

“I think I made a mistake on third when the ball got away from the catcher,” he said. “I could have been more aggressive, but I didn’t. I should have been more aggressive. Looking back I probably could have scored, but I didn’t. I kick myself in the butt right now for it.”

The Reds put two on with nobody out in the second but pushed across only one run and that came while Tucker Barnhart was grounding into a double play.

The Pirates tied it, 1-1, in the fourth on a home run by Ben Gamel.

Cincinnati loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth and scored just one run and that came on a sacrifice fly by TJ Friedl, giving the Reds a 2-1 lead.

Pittsburgh grabbed a 3-2 lead in the fifth and chased Tyler Mahle. Hoy Park opened with a single and pitcher Mitch Keller put down a two-strike sacrifice bunt.

Ke’Bryan Hayes singled to center for a run to tie it and Cole Tucker singled home a run to push the Pirates in front, 3-2.

The Reds had two on with two outs in the sixth and manager David Bell sent up Asdrubal Cabrera to pinch-hit for hot-hitting rookie Friedl. Cabrera struck out and is 0-for-20 as a member of the Reds.

The epitome of frustration arrived in the Cincinnati seventh when Pirates relief pitcher Nick Mears walked both Delino DeShields and India and gave up a bloop single to Max Schrock.

Once again the Reds had the bases loaded with no outs. This time they didn’t score. Castellanos fouled out to first, Votto flied to shallow center and Farmer took a called third strike. Farmer had singled three straight times before striking out.

The Pirates responded by scoring three runs in the eighth off relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen. With one out he walked two straight, then gave up a run-scoring single to Michael Perez, a sacrifice fly to Park and a run-producing double by pinch-hitter Yoshi Tsutsugo. Perez came into the game 0-for-20 and 2-for-52.

Of the Cardinals and their 11-game winning streak, Farmer said, “The Cardinals are hot. Good for them. They always get hot in September. Growing up I always watched them get hot in September. Sometimes a hot streak comes to an end and maybe we can start a hot streak in these 10 games we have left.”

Maybe.