McCoy: Bullpen brutal again as Reds fall to Dodgers

For the Cincinnati Reds bullpen, it is not just second verse, same as the first. It is second verse, third verse, fourth verse, ad infinitum, same as the first.

For the umpteenth time this dismal season, the Reds bullpen was asked to be a protection agency but turned out to be anything but.

Asked to guard a tie game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night in Great American Ball Park, the bullpen gave up four runs in the seventh and eighth.

The result was an 8-4 defeat, Cincinnati’s sixth straight loss and eighth straight loss to the Dodgers.

And facing LA first baseman Freddie Freeman is dangerous to the health of Reds’ pitchers. After driving in five runs Tuesday in LA’s 8-2 win, Freeman drove in two more Wednesday. His seventh-inning home run off Ross Detwiler broke a 4-4 tie and launched the Dodgers toward another easy victory.

The guilt-by-association culprits on this night were Detwiler, Joel Kuhnel and Art Warren.

On the Dodgers side, the bullpen was as clean as their bright white home uniforms. Alex Vesia, Yancy Almonte and Daniel Hudson retired nine of the 10 batters they faced.

Much-troubled LA closer Craig Kimbrel gave up a leadoff double to Kyle Farmer in the ninth, then retired the next three.

The Reds gave Luis Castillo a 3-0 lead in the second inning against unbeaten Dodgers starter Tyler Anderson.

Anderson (8-0) came within two outs of a no-hitter in his previous start, but Kyle Farmer, the fifth batter doubled to left. Donovan Solano, taking his first at bat of the season, also doubled to left for a 1-0 lead.

Matt Reynolds walked and Albert Almora Jr. appeared to ground into an inning-ending double play … that’s at least what the umpire ruled.

The Reds challenged the out at first and won. Almora was ruled safe on the replay, and it led to two more runs.

Aramis Garcia grounded to shortstop and beat it for a hit and shortstop Trea Turner threw it away for an error and a run scored. The third run scored on Anderson’s wild pitch.

The Dodgers retrieved one run in the third when Trea Turner walked, Castillo hit Freeman with a pitch and Will Smith singled.

LA barged in front, 4-3, with three runs in the fifth. It began with a double with number nine hitter Gavin Lux. Freeman singled on the first pitch for a run. Smith singled and Castillo walked Max Muncy, a guy who was 0 for 13 with 10 strikeouts for his career against Castillo.

The walk to Muncy filled the bases and Castillo hit Chris Taylor with the first pitch, forcing in a run to tie it, 3-3. Justin Turner’s sacrifice fly pushed LA in front, 4-3.

Cincinnati tied it, 4-4, in the fifth on Almora’s home run, his third home run in five games. And the Reds put two more on base in the inning, but with one out Jonathan India tried to score on a medium-depth fly ball to left by Tommy Pham, but left fielder Chris Taylor threw India out at home.

Both starters, Castillo and Anderson, were removed after five innings, so neither was involved in the decision.

Castillo gave up four runs and five hits, walked three, struck out six and hit two batters. Anderson also gave up four runs and five hits, while walking one and striking out two. And his record stayed at 8-0.

So it became another bullpen battle and the result was the same as it had been so many, many times this season. It was not a keeper.

Detwiler pitched a 1-2-3 sixth for the Reds, but Freeman unloaded his home run with one out in the seventh.

It all turned to tatters in the eighth against Kuhnel. He walked the first two batters. That brought up Trayce Thompson, acquired this week from the Detroit Tigers. He had batted twice and struck out on three pitches both times.

This time, on a 1-and-2 count, he ripped a two-run double up the right center gap for a 7-4 LA lead. Warren gave up a sacrifice fly and it was 8-4.

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