Reds drop 8th straight series amid WC hopes

Bell on September slide: 'The only choice is to move forward'

September 19th, 2021

CINCINNATI -- The Reds are desperate for a way to turn things around and restore life in their fading opportunity to make the postseason. But the Dodgers certainly weren’t going to do them any favors.

Wade Miley’s September struggles continued as he was rocked for three home runs in three innings in an 8-5 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday. At the most critical point of the season, the Reds have dropped eight consecutive series -- something they hadn't done since 2015 -- as Los Angeles took the last two of their three games at Great American Ball Park.

“We need to win some games, put some series together,” said Miley, who trailed 6-0 when he departed. “I know we haven't won a series in a while. But we just have to keep playing. We can't press. Anything can happen.”

Cincinnati has dropped six of its last eight games. Going back to the first series that started the streak -- Aug. 24 at Milwaukee -- the club has an 8-16 record. Before that series, the Reds were 12 games over .500, and now, they sit four games over (77-73). They drifted to three games behind the Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot.

There are only 12 games remaining in the regular season and the Reds no longer control their own destiny like they once did. Even if they put together a great final two weeks -- featuring six games vs. the Pirates, four vs. the Nationals and two against the White Sox -- they will need some assistance to overtake a hot St. Louis team.

“The fact still remains that we have really important games left to play,” Reds manager David Bell said. “There is just no time to think about it. No time to dwell on it. There is just no choice to make. The only choice is to move forward. That’s how I’m choosing to think about it and that’s how our team will approach it the rest of the way.”

Miley gave up six earned runs and nine hits over three innings with one walk and two strikeouts. In four September starts, the left-hander is 1-3 with an 8.35 ERA. Opponents are batting .429 against him in those games.

One of the Reds’ most dependable starters all season, Miley did not know what’s been causing his recent downturn.

“Clearly, I have not figured it out,” he said.

In the top of the second inning, right after Miley picked off Corey Seager at first base, Will Smith hit a 3-2 pitch into the first row of left-field seats. Chris Taylor followed with a single and Gavin Lux made it a 3-0 game after he hit a homer to right-center field.

A one-out walk to Albert Pujols in the third inning preceded Seager hitting a Miley first pitch to right field for a two-run homer. Going into the day, Miley had allowed only one of his 14 homers against a left-handed batter.

“It's just not getting through the baseball and finishing it,” Miley said. “Pitches aren't finishing. Guys know what I'm going to do. That's the tricky thing, guys know what I'm going to do up there. It's not a secret, and just not being able to get through the baseball and down and away where I want it and just backing up over the plate. It's just not good. I want them to swing, but I need the pitch to get to where it's supposed to go. I just wasn't executing.”

Bell hoped there was nothing physically wrong with the 34-year-old Miley.

“He’s been so good for the whole year. Definitely the last few times out, he hasn’t felt as good,” Bell said. “Definitely want to make sure he’s healthy. Of course, there is fatigue this time of the year. Definitely want to take a close look at that and make sure everything is OK. Obviously, we need him the rest of the way.”

Longtime Dodgers superstar Clayton Kershaw had plenty of workspace from there and gave up one earned run and three hits over five innings with no walks and eight strikeouts. The Reds battled back to tighten the game after Kershaw departed, but it was too much to overcome.

Against Tony Gonsolin in the sixth, pinch-hitter TJ Friedl led off with a home run to right field for his first hit in the big leagues and Cincinnati added two runs in the eighth inning to make it a 6-4 game. Reds reliever Jeff Hoffman gave up two runs in the top of the ninth -- including a walk with the bases loaded -- and it loomed large in the ninth. Joey Votto, serving as a pinch-hitter, hit a one-out homer to right field against closer Kenley Jansen, before he struck out the final two batters.