McCoy: Reeling Reds lose for 15th time in 18 games

Despite another quality start from Hunter Greene, Cincinnati loses to Dodgers

Once again, the Cincinnati Reds wasted a superb pitching performance by Hunter Greene.

Once again, the Reds lost, for the 15th time in 18 games during which they’ve averaged 2.5 runs a game.

Once again, the Reds lost a one-run game and are 1-11 with 10 straight one-run defeats.

Once again Reds closer Alexis Diaz was not up to the challenge of preventing late-game runs.

This time they lost in 10 innings, 3-2.

Shohei Ohtani was 2 for 13 for the series, and one was an infield hit, when he came to bat in the 10th inning.

Automatic runner Jason Heyward was on second with two outs and Diaz had two strikes on the $700 Million Man, one pitch away from sending the game into the 11th inning.

But Ohtani ripped a line drive game-winning walk-off single to right.

Greene pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up two runs and four hits while walking two and striking out eight.

His only mishap was in the third inning when Freddie Freeman led off with a single. With one out, Greene dangled a hanging slider for Andy Pages and he drilled a two-run home run into the left-field corner for a 2-0 LA lead.

Greene was still smoking 100 and 101 mph fastballs in the seventh inning when he struck out Kike Hernandez. But the strikeout came on Greene’s 105th pitch and manager David Bell removed him.

The Reds were facing a stand-in rookie, Landon Knack, called up Saturday from Triple-A. He was with the Dodgers in April and made three starts with a 1-1 record and a 2.82 earned run average.

But with the Dodgers’ depth in pitching, he was sent down until needed … and he was needed Sunday.

He held the offensively challenged Reds to no runs and one hit over four innings before the Reds reached him for a run in the fifth on back-to-back doubles by Stuart Fairchild and Santiago Espinal.

A perfect picture of the Reds’ dormant offense surfaced in the seventh inning when they tied the game without a hit and left the bases loaded.

Jonathan India opened with a full-count walk. Fairchild bunted and nobody covered first base. Pitcher Ryan Yarbrough threw to first anyway and it rolled into right field.

The throwing error put runners on third and second with no outs. Espinal popped up and pinch-hitter Tyler Stephenson was walked intentionally, filling the bases.

Yarbrough walked Will Benson, forcing in the tying run and leaving the bases filled with one out.

But Elly De La Cruz struck out on three pitches and Mike Ford popped out, leaving it at 2-2.

It was a horrible day for De La Cruz and a horrible, horrible three days after his four-hit night Thursday during Cincinnati’s 7-2 win.

Elly was 0 for 5 Sunday with three strikeouts and stranded six runners. After his 4-for-4 in the series opener, he was 0 for 13 and struck out eight times.

After scoring a run on no hits in the seventh, the Reds threatened in the ninth against Blake Treinen.

With two outs and nobody on, Stephenson and Benson both singled and moved up to third and second on a wild pitch.

De La Cruz struck out on three pitches again.

In the 10th, the Reds failed to move automatic runner De La Cruz off second base, although he should have scrambled to third.

Ford struck out and Jeimer Candelario chopped one that forced third baseman Hernandez to charge and throw on the run. De La Cruz should have taken third when Hernandez threw to first. He didn’t.

Didn’t matter, though. Jake Fraley grounded to first.

Heyward was LA’s automatic runner at second to commence the bottom of the 10th. The Reds caught a break, they thought, when Hernandez popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt and catcher Stephenson caught it.

Pinch-hitter Will Smith walked, and Mookie Betts lined to center for the second out.

Diaz had a 1-and-2 count on Ohtani … then he lined his walk-off single as the Dodgers took the last three game of the four-game series.

The Reds finished a seven-game trip to Arizona and Los Angeles 2-5. After Monday off, they open a three-game series Tuesday in Great American Ball Park against San Diego. Then it’s three more, this time at home, against the Dodgers.

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