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Reds waste strong outing by Bailey

Reds players will do most anything — outside of running outside the stadium to take a dip in the Ohio River — to keep cool on days like Sunday.

Catcher Corky Miller dumped his head and famous mustache in a bucket of water. Left-fielder Chris Heisey squatted down to get eye-to-eye with a giant fan that kept air circulating in the dugout. Earlier in the series against the Pirates, trainer Thomas Vera draped a wet towel over third baseman Todd Frazier’s head.

The only things that stayed cool all day Sunday despite the steamy weather were the Reds’ bats. They collected only three hits — and none from the second to seventh innings — and failed to sweep the Pirates, falling 3-2 in the final game of the three-game series.

The Reds (55-43) fell five games behind the Cardinals (59-37) and three back of the Pirates (57-39) in the National League Central. After wins on Friday and Saturday, they wasted a strong performance by Homer Bailey (5-9, 3.84 ERA), who struck out a career-high 12 batters.

“Homer was dealing,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He wanted that one badly. We wanted it for him.”

Bailey gave up a solo home run to Garrett Jones in the second inning. He didn’t run into trouble again until the seventh. With his pitch count climbing past 100, Bailey gave up a double to Michael McKenry and then singles to Jordy Mercer, Clint Barmes and Jose Tabata.

The Pirates turned a 1-1 game into a 3-1 lead with that rally. Baker took Bailey out after the fourth hit of the inning. He left Bailey in the game because he was throwing as hard as ever in the seventh. Bailey said he wasn’t tired in the seventh, just frustrated.

“McKenry had just a great at-bat,” Bailey said. “He fouled off a 2-2 slider. I couldn’t have thrown that one any better. Then they had two groundball hits. That’s kind of been my luck lately. Against Atlanta (in his last start), they had 10 hits, and nine of them were groundballs through in the infield. You just have to keep plugging away and hope things find gloves.”

The Reds bullpen, which has a 0.95 ERA in the last 16 games, did the job after Bailey left the game. J.J. Hoover and Curtis Partch combined to pitch 2 2/3 innings without allowing a hit. They struck out four batters, so the Reds had 16 strikeouts as a team. That’s the fifth time this season they have struck out at least 16.

None of that mattered because the Reds’ offense struggled.

Pirates starter Jeff Locke (9-2, 2.11 ERA) had something to do with that. He allowed one hit in six innings, and the only run the Reds got off him came in the fifth when Zack Cozart scored from third on a wild pitch with two outs.

The Reds had only one other good scoring opportunity, and it was a golden one. In the eighth, they loaded the bases with no outs on a walk by pinch hitter Derrick Robinson, a single by Shin-Soo Choo and a walk by Heisey.

The Reds had their best two hitters coming up, but Joey Votto grounded into a double play — Robinson scoring on the play — and Brandon Phillips grounded out.

“It hurts when you have an opportunity like that,” Baker said. “That’s kind of been haunting us all year.”

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