Reed clubbed again as Cincinnati Reds fall short

The Reds have won five consecutive series since the All-Star break, all of them three-game sets and four after dropping the middle game.

They’ll have to do it again today at 12:35 p.m. if they want to stretch the streak to six, which would be the first time since July and August of 1999 that they’ve won six straight series.

Cincinnati was unable to overcome another sloppy first inning by rookie left-hander Cody Reed on Wednesday, falling behind 4-0 before batting and proving unable to rally in a 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals before 20,771 fans at Great American Ball Park.

“It’s the speed of the game,” manager Bryan Price said about Reed’s first innings, in which he had an 11.57 earned-run average in his seven starts before this one, according to baseball-reference.com. “He’s not as acute with his command in the first inning. He’s taking time to settle in. By that time, they’ve scored four runs. It’s a big inning, and we’re digging ourselves out of a hole. The best part of his night was the next four innings.”

Brandon Phillips had two hits and drove in two runs and relievers Josh Smith and Michael Lorenzen combined for four scoreless innings, but the Reds couldn’t sustain a comeback. They got Adam Duvall to second with one out in the eighth, but Phillips flied out to left field and Scott Schebler — Tuesday’s walkoff hero with his three-run homer — struck out.

Smith also had a double while leading off the fifth inning as a pinch-hitter for Reed, the first Cincinnati pitcher with a pinch-hit since Micah Owings against the Dodgers’ Hiroki Kuroda on June 15, 2010,

Reed (0-6) threw 98 pitches, 57 for strikes, while allowing eight hits and five runs with a walk and a strikeout and also hitting a batter. It would’ve been nine hits and six runs but Schebler went over the right field wall to rob Jedd Gyorko of a leadoff homer in the fifth.

Reed’s ERA over eight starts grew from 7.07 to 7.30. He’d reached the fourth inning in each of his other seven starts, and his per-inning ERAs were 7.71 in the second, 5.14 in the third and 3.86 in the fourth, according to baseball-reference.com.

“It seems like I’m giving the same interview,” Reed said when asked about being frustrated. “I’m not really performing. It’s a battle for me right now. I hope to get the ball in five days and try again.”

“Not a whole lot of guys come to the big leagues and have success,” Price said. “You get punched in the face and you have to get up and punch back. He’s been punched a lot. He’s got to get up and punch back.”

Schebler, switched from left field to right so Price could get a look at him in that role, delivered an eyeful. He also threw out Matt Holliday trying to stretch a single into a leadoff double in the third inning.

Reed needed 16 minutes and 36 pitches to get three outs in the first inning, but not before he faced nine batters and gave up four hits and a walk and hit a batter as the Cardinals patiently built a 4-0 lead.

Brandon Moss started the scoring by banging a two-run double off the left-center field wall. He also doubled in his next at bat, leaving him 12-for-26 (.462) with 12 RBIs against the Reds this season before grounding out in each of his next two trips.

The Reds forced Michael Wacha to throw 31 pitches while scoring two runs in the first. Joey Votto drove in the first with a hit-and-run single to right, extending his career-long hitting streak to 17 games.

Stephen Piscotty upped the lead to 5-2 with a solo home run on Reed’s first pitch after Schebler’s homer-saving catch.

The Reds cut the lead to 5-4 in the sixth, which started with Duvall’s bloop triple down the right field line. He originally was allowed to score on an error, but a review confirmed fan interference. Phillips picked up his second RBI with a single to left and was safe at second when an apparent double-play ball was overturned when a review revealed that the pivot man was off the bag at second. Phillips scored on Ivan De Jesus Jr.’s single.

The two replays combined to consume more than five minutes.