CINCINNATI -- The Reds ended their first homestand following the All-Star break on a down note, losing, 9-8, Sunday to Arizona at Great American Ball Park. But they will still be flying to San Francisco feeling good -- they won six of their nine games, taking two out of three
CINCINNATI -- The Reds ended their first homestand following the All-Star break on a down note, losing, 9-8, Sunday to Arizona at Great American Ball Park. But they will still be flying to San Francisco feeling good -- they won six of their nine games, taking two out of three against the Brewers, Braves and D-backs, with two of the losses coming by one run.
"We played a great series, we really did," said Jay Bruce, who hit a three-run home run off Tyler Clippard with no outs in the ninth inning to pull the Reds within one run. "Today was a little bit of back-and-forth, and nobody could solidify holding onto the game. Right up until the end there we had a chance, and that's all you can ask for."
Bruce went 2-for-4 with a walk, four RBIs and three runs scored as he extended his hitting streak to six games. He's not the only hitter on a roll.
Brandon Phillips has a 12-game hitting streak after going 2-for-4 Sunday. He also walked in the ninth inning to give the Reds the potential tying run. Joey Votto has hit safely in all nine games since the All-Star break and has raised his average to .276 with an .895 OPS. Billy Hamilton had a pair of hits, and he was robbed of a third on a diving grab of his line drive in the eighth inning by D-backs shortstop Jean Segura. Hamilton has hit in seven straight games, and 11 of his past 14.
"It's so rare that you have everyone in your lineup hitting on all cylinders," manager Bryan Price said. "When some guys cool off, you want other guys to pick them up. Joey's been on another of those prolific runs as far as on-base and hard contact, getting to his power and doing a lot of good things. Brandon's got a hitting streak and is hitting the ball hard, and hitting it to right field again, which is really nice.
"It's just one of those games. When you give up nine, you're probably not going to win a ballgame."
It wasn't a good day for starter Brandon Finnegan, who took the loss after giving up six runs on seven hits, including three home runs, in five innings. Even the bullpen, which has been a strength the past few weeks, was off its game. Ross Ohlendorf allowed two runs in one inning, while Josh A. Smith gave up what proved to be the deciding run on a solo home run by Yasmany Tomás in the eighth inning to give Arizona a 9-5 lead.
While the bullpen entered the game with the worst ERA (5.38) in the Major Leagues and had tossed the most innings (354 2/3) of any relief staff, in the previous 13 games, the relievers had posted a 1.60 ERA over 45 innings. That stretch included a season-high 13 consecutive scoreless innings.
"We're winning series," Bruce said. "The bullpen has done a beautiful job lately. Starting pitching has been good, and we're stringing together some hits. I think the biggest deal is all of it getting put together at the same time.
"This is a young team. Everyone has their lumps they're going to take, but you have to continue to keep your eye on the prize and just go and play and get better and expect better. I think that we do."
Kevin Goheen is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati.