McCoy: Ninth-inning rally comes up short as Reds lose fifth straight

Cincinnati scores three in the ninth, but falls 5-4 to Cardinals

On a night when the Cincinnati Reds bewitched, bothered and bewildered bullpen was perfect, the offense forgot to show up.

Three Reds relievers retired 10 straight St. Louis Cardinals to finish the game Friday night in Busch Stadium III, but the offense didn’t provide enough in a 5-4 loss.

It was Cincinnati’s fifth straight loss and dropped the Reds a game under .500 at 9-10.

The Reds’ only run for eight innings was a home run by heavily booed Nick Castellanos, his 1,000th career hit. The Busch fans booed his every at bat and a fan threw his home run ball back onto the field.

It all stemmed from his dust-up with the Cardinals on opening weekend in Great American Ball Park that led to a two-game suspension for Castellanos.

The Reds finally threatened in the ninth against the St. Louis bullpen, which has had as many problems this year as the Reds bullpen.

Jordan Hicks and Alex Reyes walked four batters in the ninth. One scored on a bases-loaded walk. A second run scored when Castellanos struck out with the bases loaded and catcher Andrew Knizner missed and it was 5-4.

But with the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second, Eugenio Suarez took a called third strike on a full count to end it, the fourth time Suarez struck out. In 70 at bats this season Suarez has struck out 32 times.

St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina, who grabbed Castellanos around the neck during the melee in Cincinnati, put the Cardinals on the board with a second-inning home run off Reds starter Sonny Gray.

The Cardinals then scored four runs off Gray in the third inning to give soft-tossing St. Louis starter Kwang-Hyun Kim a 5-0 lead.

Gray lasted only 3 2/3 innings and gave up five runs and six hits, including a two-run double to Paul Goldschmidt in the third. At the time, Goldshmidt was 0 for 13 with seven strikeouts against Gray.

“It was one inning and I couldn’t get out of it,” said Gray. “That put us in a deep hole. The guys who followed me did a great job and gave us a chance to win.”

After Gray left, Reds manager David Bell used his two newest members of the bullpen staff, Heath Hembree and Ryan Hendrix, both called up Friday.

Hembree walked the first batter he faced, then retired the next four with two strikeouts. Hendrix followed with a 1-2-3 inning and two strikeouts.

Jose DeLeon was next with a perfect inning and two strikeouts. Then came the much-troubled Amir Garrett and he, too, pitched a perfect inning.

The Reds, though, couldn’t solve St. Louis starter Kim. It was his third start against the Reds and they didn’t score on him in the first two. The Castellanos home run ended Kim’s streak of 16 straight scoreless innings against the Reds.

“He moves the ball well,” said Castellanos about Kim. “He cross-fires and throws a lot of cutters in to right-handers. He did a good job because when he thought guys were looking in he would throw soft away.”

Of his home run, his 1,000th hit, Castellanos said, “It was definitely a pretty cool moment, especially being in St. Louis and hearing all the boos and stuff.”

And what does the team need to do to end the slide?

“By coming ready to play tomorrow,” he said. “That’s pretty much all you can do. This came down to the last out. That’s one thing about the group of guys we’ve got. We’re not going to quit, we’re not just going to count the outs and wait until the game is over.”