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Time running out for Reds in pursuit of Cards, Pirates

By most measures, the 7-3 homestand the Reds finished Wednesday would have to be considered a success. In the one way that matters most, however, it wasn’t the grand achievement it could have been.

The Reds (83-64) moved only a half game closer to first place in that 10-day span. They were 3½ games back of St. Louis and Pittsburgh through Sept. 1. Through Wednesday, they were three games behind the first-place Cardinals and two back of the Pirates. That’s after beating the Cardinals three out of four games, sweeping the Dodgers and losing two of three to the Cubs.

“I think you looked at our schedule here in September and you saw that first series against the Cardinals and then the Dodgers, if you said we’d be 7-3 going on the road, I think everybody would be happy,” catcher Devin Mesoraco said. “We’ve been playing some good ball. It’s just a matter of consistently doing it day in and day out.”

Time is running out. The Reds begin a nine-game road trip tonight with stops in Milwaukee, Houston and Pittsburgh and then close with six games at home against the Mets and Pirates. Fifteen games remain to make one last push for the Central Division championship or the top wild card spot.

According to Baseball Prospectus, the Reds have a 10-percent chance of winning the division, an 88 percent chance of winning one of the wild cards and a 98 percent chance of winning one or the other.

The Reds (83-64) are 9-7 against the Brewers. Milwaukee has had the advantage of late, though, winning two of the last three series. St. Louis is 12-3 against the Brewers. Pittsburgh is 12-7.

“We need to play good ball,” Mesoraco said. “We need to turn up the intensity every day, show up every day, go out there and beat some teams. We’ve had some trouble with Milwaukee the last couple series, so we owe them one. We need to prove what kind of team we actually are.”

Most Reds fans would agree the Reds are maddeningly inconsistent. But they actually have a slightly better record (37-28) since the end of June than the Cardinals (36-28) and Pirates (33-31).

“We’re in a good position regardless of what happens,” manager Dusty Baker said, “but we want to be in the best position we can be in.”

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