Cincinnati Reds

Reds suddenly having late-game troubles

With division-leader St. Louis, owner of MLB’s best record, coming to Cincinnati for a three-game set starting Friday, the second-place Reds have flattened out a bit of late, losing four of their last seven.

Tuesday night's 5-4 loss to the Rockies was the second time in three days that Dusty Baker’s club led after seven innings only to lose. Same thing happened Sunday when Jonathon Broxton blew an eighth-inning lead and Cincinnati lost at Pittsburgh 5-4.

Sam LeCure was the cluprit last night, which was certainly a surprise. The bearded one had been pitching exceptional baseball of late, giving up just one hit in his last 10 appearances, prompting Baker to try the right-hander in the set-up role after Broxton’s recent rough spots.

But LeCure walked Carlos Gonzalez, then served up a pitch that Rockies’ shortstop Troy Tulowitzki hit on a line to left field that found the glove of a fan just over the home run-line — as replay showed — giving Colorado the lead and ultimately the game.

It was the first run LeCure had allowed since May 5, the first homer he had allowed since April 6.

Reds starter Homer Bailey pitched seven innings, allowing three runs, all in the second. But Bailey regained his focus after the second and pitched well the rest of the way. If not for Tulowitzki’s drive off LeCure, Bailey would have been the winner.

Ryan Hanigan drove in two runs as the Reds rallied from a 3-0 lead, but the image of the night may have been Hanigan throwing up his hands in exasperation after rookie Donald Lutz lost track of the out count and was doubled off first base when Hanigan flied out to center fielder Dexter Fowler in the eighth.

The good news is that St. Louis dropped a 7-6 decision in 14 innings to visiting Arizona. Cardinals’ rookie Michael Wacha got knocked around in his second career start, giving up six runs in 4.2 innings. The No. 19 pick in the 2012 Draft, Wacha had allowed just one run in seven innnings against Kansas City in his first career MLB start on May 30.

St. Louis is 0-4 in extra inning games this year, by the way. The Cards are 4-3 in their last seven games, all at home.

And the Reds hope to get Brandon Phillips back for Friday’s opener with the Cardinals. Phillips missed his third straight game with a bruise left forearm after being hit by a pitch at Pittsburgh on Saturday. The NL’s RBI leader is expected to sit out tonight’s finale against the Rockies, as well.

Johnny Cueto pitches for the Reds tonight, making his fourth start since coming off the disabled list. Cueto threw eight innings of shutout baseball at Pittsburgh on Friday in his last start.

Read more on John Clay's Sidelines blog