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Sputtering Reds fall to Milwaukee again

Are the Cincinnati Reds a good team right now? Let us count the ways why they aren’t:

  • Does a good team lose four out of six games in September to a next-to-last place team? The Reds do.
  • Does a good team build a 3-0 lead in the first inning and a 5-1 lead going into the seventh inning against a bad team and lose? The Reds do.
  • Does a good team have the bases loaded with one out and score two runs — one on a bases-loaded walk and one on a sacrifice fly? The Reds do.
  • Does a good team give up a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth hit by a raw rookie hitting .190 against left-handed pitching? The Reds do.
  • Does a good team lose four out of six to the last place and next-to-last team in successive series? The Reds do.

The Reds lost Sunday afternoon to the Milwaukee Brewers, 6-5, on a walk-off home run hit off Zach Duke by Sean Halton.

So the Reds spent the weekend spinning their wheel in Milwaukee, falling 3½ games behind the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates, both of whom won Sunday to remain tied for first in the National League Central.

And what once seemed like a lock for the No. 2 wild spot for the Reds is now in deep jeopardy. The Washington Nationals are only 4 ½ games behind the Reds and winning with regularity.

For the second time this season, Milwaukee center fielder Carlos Gomez went above the center field wall to snag a potential game-winning home run.

With the score tied, 5-5, in the top of the ninth, Shin-Soo Choo drew a walk, his 101st this season. After Brandon Phillips was retired, Choo stole second.

Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea because the Brewers walked Joey Votto intentionally, choosing to face Jay Bruce.

When Bruce swung the bat and connected it sounded like a firecracker and the ball headed for center field, destined to be a three-run home run and an 8-5 Reds lead.

Gomez was having none of it. He drifted to the wall and leaped to snag it above the wall for the third out.

Then came the fateful ninth. Manager Dusty Baker chose to permit left-handed Duke face right-handed Sean Halton, probably because Halton was hitting .190 against left-handers and had not hit a home run against a left-handed pitcher.

Halton hit one over the center field wall and the game was over, a quick-hitting disaster.

Bronson Arroyo took a 5-1 lead into the seventh and gave up a run and left with one out, having given up two runs and only three hits, but he walked four — the most he has walked in a game since 2009.

Then the bullpen imploded when the Brewers scored three in the eighth against Sam LeCure, Manny Parra and J.J. Hoover. Jean Segura hit a two-run triple and Jonathan Lucroy hit a sacrifice fly to account for the three runs.

Then came Gomez’s robbing Bruce and Halton robbing the Reds.

No, right now, the Reds are not a good team.

The Reds open a three-game series in Houston tonight, facing the Astros, arguably the worst team in the majors right now. And Johnny Cueto is expected to return to the lineup.

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