McCoy: Reds miss chance to win series vs. first-place Brewers

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

As a celebration of Father’s Day and a focus on Prostate Cancer Day, the Cincinnati Reds featured a blue ‘C’ on their caps, blue socks, blue sweat band and blue catcher’s equipment.

And, indeed, it was a blue, blue Sunday for them against the Milwaukee Brewers in American Family Field.

Given a chance to clip a game off the Brewers seven-game division lead over them to six, the Reds fell back behind eight games.

Given a chance to win a series against the Brewers, the Reds lost a series to Milwaukee for the eighth straight time.

And the Reds had every chance to win the rubber game, but fell, 5-4, after leading 3-0 after four innings and 3-1 after five.

They had the taste of victory, but couldn’t swallow it.

Leading 3-1 in the sixth, Reds starter Frankie Montas gave up a single to William Contrares and walked Christian Yelich on a full count.

Manager David Bell summoned Lucas Sims from the bullpen to face ever-dangerous Reds-assassin Willy Adames. Sims hung his first pitch, an 84 mph slider, and Adames upper-cutted it 421 feet over the center field wall, a three-run homer.

Milwaukee 4, Cincinnati 3

The Reds never recovered, although they gave it the ol’ Reds’ try.

What turned out to be a huge run was added by the Brewers in the seventh. Brice Turang singled, stole second and continued to third when catcher Tyler Stephenson winged his peg wide into center field.

That brought up multi-talented Yelich and he displayed his vast versatilty, shocking and stunning the Reds by pushling a safety squeeze bunt past pitcher Sam Moll, giving the Brewers a 5-3 lead.

In the top of the seventh, the Reds put runners on second and first with one out, but relief pitcher Jared Koenig came on to strike out pinch-hitter Stuart Fairchild. Second baseman Turang roamed into short right field and made a dazzling play on T.J. Friedl’s hard ground ball.

Elly De La Cruz, born to bash fastballs as long as he doesn’t have two strikes, led off the eighth with a home run, cutting Milwaukee’s advantage to 5-4. Jeimer Candelario singled and the Reds had the tying run on with no outs.

Spencer Steer hit into a fielder’s choice, then Nick Martini singled Steer to third base, where he gained nothing but losing his breath and dirtying his pants.

That’s because Milwaukee’s defensive dandiness surfaced when center fielder Blake Perkins made a diving catch after a long run to snag Jonathan India’s 108 mph line drive to stifle the threat.

And there was real drama in the ninth with the Reds still down, 5-4. With one out, Fairchild rolled a routine ground ball to shortstop and Adames threw it away for an error.

That put Fairchild, the go-ahead run on second with one out. Friedl, who went 0 for 5, popped up for the second out.

Milwaukee manager Pat Murphy likes to live dangerously, so he intentionally walked De La Cruz, the go-ahead run. Why would he do that? He knew the Reds’ depth was in the shallow end. They were out of position players, so Santiago Espinal, he of the .197 batting average, had to take his place in the batter’s box.

Espinal surprised everybody with a bloop single to center. Fairchild tried to score the tying run from second but Perkins threw him out at home to end the game.

The Reds challenged that not only did catcher Contreras illegally block the plate, but he missed the tag. The replay/review was quick. The Reds lost both challenges and the game, 5-4.

And it started so positively for the Reds.

De La Cruz left his footprints all over American Family Field. He tripled into the right field corner with one out in the first and scored on Jeimer Candelario’s deep sacrifice fly to right.

De La Cruz literally stole a run in the third. After walking on a full count, he stole second, his league-leading 36th theft. Brewers starter Colin Rea then threw wildly to second on a pickoff attempt, and De La Cruz not only took third, he kept running and slid home for a 2-0 Reds lead.

For the game, De La Cruz had a triple, a home run, two walks, an RBI and scored three of the Reds’ four runs.

Steer made it 3-0 with a home run off Rea leading off the fourth.

But then came the three-run home run by Adames and the Reds were in chase mode the rest of the way and came within Fairchild’s game-ending slide home of tying it.

The Reds remain in third place, but only a half-game ahead of the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates. And the open a three-game series in Pittsburgh on Monday night, where they will face rookie pitching sensation Paul Skenes in the opener.

Skenes is 3-0 with a 2.43 earned run average with 46 strikeouts in; 33 1/3 innings.

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