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Mahle solid, Reds' bats struggle again in loss

MLB.com @m_sheldon

MILWAUKEE -- Eric Thames will get all the credit for the Brewers winning a series vs. the Reds, but Cincinnati's lineup deserves even more blame for losing it.

For the second straight game, the Reds were shut out by Milwaukee in a 2-0 defeat, as the Reds fell to 3-15 with losses in 10 of their last 11 games on Wednesday at Miller Park. Just like Tuesday's loss for Sal Romano, Thames' two-run home run was the difference that spoiled an otherwise decent outing by Reds starter Tyler Mahle.

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MILWAUKEE -- Eric Thames will get all the credit for the Brewers winning a series vs. the Reds, but Cincinnati's lineup deserves even more blame for losing it.

For the second straight game, the Reds were shut out by Milwaukee in a 2-0 defeat, as the Reds fell to 3-15 with losses in 10 of their last 11 games on Wednesday at Miller Park. Just like Tuesday's loss for Sal Romano, Thames' two-run home run was the difference that spoiled an otherwise decent outing by Reds starter Tyler Mahle.

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Cincinnati's scoreless streak is at a season-high 19 innings.

"I don't know what to say, to be honest with you," catcher Tucker Barnhart said. "But it will come. It's obviously nowhere near the start we'd like to have had. Sooner or later, it's going to go in our favor. Try not to panic until then, and hopefully string some good ballgames together."

Mahle pitched five innings of two-run ball, scattering seven hits and four walks (one intentional) while striking out six. But Brewers starter Zach Davies countered with 6 1/3 clean innings, before the Brewers' bullpen finished the job.

The Reds couldn't capitalize on opportunities to score, going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday. Against Davies in the first inning, Jesse Winker hit a leadoff double to center field and reached third base on Christian Yelich's error. Although Joey Votto walked two batters later, the rally went nowhere.

Video: CIN@MIL: Davies leaves runners at first and third

Jose Peraza, Adam Duvall and Scooter Gennett all put the ball in play, but Davies was able to induce weak contact and ground balls that didn't come close to leaving the infield.

"In that situation, you just need a ground ball to score a run, you know? We have to appreciate runs," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Look, everybody is trying. ... But we have to take the small things. Taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning would be a really nice thing and working with leads. It's not like guys aren't trying, but we have to be more productive in those opportunities to score some runs."

In the fourth inning with runners on the corners and one out, Duvall got caught in a rundown on Barnhart's comebacker to the mound. It resulted in runners on second and third base with two outs, enabling the Brewers to intentionally walk Alex Blandino to face Mahle with the bases loaded. He grounded out to second base to end the inning.

"We haven't been able to get to our power and do the things we have done historically with this bunch -- being able to hit extra-base hits, homers and get into the big inning," Price said. "That was our staple last year; even when we were struggling with the young pitching, we scored runs. It's been elusive so far this year."

The Reds have hit the second-fewest homers (11) in the National League despite playing home games at cozy Great American Ball Park. They've also scored the second-fewest runs in the NL.

After notching three hits on Saturday, Gennett has gone 1-for-15 with 12 men left stranded. Duvall -- a 30-homer hitter the past two seasons -- is batting .175 this season with three homers. He broke out with three hits on Monday but was 0-for-8 the last two games with seven left on base. The Reds are also without Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler, who combined for 56 home runs last season. Schebler is expected to return Friday in St. Louis.

Mahle was able to avoid the pitfall of being burned by his third time through a lineup that ruined his past two starts, but he didn't get past Thames' second at-bat unscathed. With Jett Bandy on first base with a leadoff single and one out, Thames slugged a 1-0 slider into the right-field bullpen.

"If I don't walk four guys and make better pitches throughout the game, maybe I go seven [innings] and give up two runs," Mahle said. "Regardless, the two runs cost us."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Escape artist: In the fourth inning with runners on the corners and two outs, Mahle avoided Thames with an intentional walk. That brought up Yelich, who was able to get to a 3-0 count before Mahle threw three straight fastballs -- 95, 96 and 97 mph -- for a strikeout to escape the jam. Then in the fifth following a one-out walk and a single, Jonathan Villar bounced a ball to Mahle to start an inning-ending double play.

"Those could have went south real fast with just one pitch," Mahle said. "I was able to battle and get through. Going through the lineup three times in five innings, that's not very efficient. We need to change that, for sure."

Video: CIN@MIL: Mahle, Peraza complete double play in 5th

HE SAID IT
"Well, we wonder why they pitch to him in the first place. We're like, 'Wait, you haven't learned the first [12] times?' I don't know what it is, but he's figured them out, and we enjoy seeing it because he produces runs. That's what we like." -- Brewers reliever Jacob Barnes, on the Reds pitching to Thames after being asked how Milwaukee's pitchers would handle him

UP NEXT
The Reds offense could use the contributions of Schebler on Friday when Cincinnati opens a three-game series vs. the Cardinals at 8:15 p.m. ET. Brandon Finnegan, who was roughed up by St. Louis in his first game at Great American Ball Park, will make his second start of the season and be opposed by Michael Wacha.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Tyler Mahle