CINCINNATI -- A Reds bullpen that started out with smaller leaks earlier this month seems to have fully breached while flooding with baserunners and runs. During a three-game series with Arizona, Cincinnati starting pitchers had a 1.15 ERA and the offense scored 20 runs.
Despite hitting six home runs on Thursday -- including two from Jesse Winker -- Cincinnati was handed its season-high fourth consecutive loss with a 14-11 defeat to Arizona in 10 innings that completed a three-game series sweep and put the club at .500 (9-9).
In the three games, the Reds' bullpen gave up 22 earned runs and 17 walks over just 13 1/3 innings.
“Somebody has got to step up for you and set the tone,” Reds reliever Sean Doolittle said.
A few dubious achievements happened in the game and the series for Cincinnati:
• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Reds bullpen has given up 17 walks in a series of three or fewer games only once before. It happened June 7-9, 1949, vs. the Boston Braves.
• It was the first time in MLB history, according to STATS Inc., that a team lost a game when it hit six or more homers while the starting pitcher gave up two or fewer runs. Jeff Hoffman gave the Reds five innings with two runs (one earned) and four hits allowed.
• Arizona scored 11 of its runs in the 10th inning across Wednesday and Thursday. In both games, the team batted around in the top of the 10th.
• The leadoff man reached base for Arizona in each of the last five innings on Thursday.
• Reds relievers are second in the Majors with 46 walks and have the second-worst ERA at 6.00.
“Guys start pressing because they want to be that guy that picks up the group,” said Doolittle, who gave up two runs on two hits and three walks in the seventh inning. “They want to be that guy that has that exclamation point of an inning that everybody can feed off of. You start pressing. You start trying to be a little bit too fine and try to do too much, and it kind of blows up in your face.”
Pitching for the third straight day for the first time in his career, Lucas Sims gave up the go-ahead run in the six-run top of the 10th inning when Josh Rojas’ leadoff RBI single scored automatic runner Asdrúbal Cabrera from second base. Sims left with the bases loaded and Cionel Pérez gave up a David Peralta triple past diving center fielder Tyler Naquin to break open the game. Peralta finished the game with seven RBIs.
“We just had to do everything we could to get through that game and give ourselves a chance to win,” Reds manager David Bell said. “[Sims] did his part. I do think he ran out of gas for sure there at the end.”
The Reds first battled back from a 4-1 deficit when Nick Castellanos returned from a suspension and slugged a sixth-inning leadoff homer to left field against starter Taylor Widener. Two batters later, Eugenio Suárez took Widener deep to left-center field for a two-run homer to make it a 4-4 game.
Arizona responded in the seventh by scoring four more runs while sending 10 men to bat against Carson Fulmer and Doolittle. But the Reds' lineup kept applying more pressure. A two-run homer to center field by Winker -- his second of the day -- and Joey Votto’s solo homer to left-center field made it a one-run game.
Leading off the bottom of the eighth against Yoan López, Jonathan India hit his first big league homer -- a drive to right-center field -- for the tying run that made it an 8-8 game.
“Anytime you get swept at home, it’s tough,” Castellanos said. “But the only thing we can do is shower it off and get ready for tomorrow, because we got a big series now against St. Louis.”
Cincinnati has six more games against the Cardinals and Dodgers before its next off-day, and the club could look for bullpen reinforcements. Among those on the 40-man roster, lefty Phillip Diehl and right-handers Art Warren and Ryan Hendrix will be on the taxi squad.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on Vladimir Gutierrez, who had a great spring and completed his suspension on Thursday. Gutierrez has been working out at the alternate training site in Louisville, Ky.
“We’re going to have to take a closer look at that and evaluate where we are tomorrow, where we’ll be Saturday and where we’ll be for this stretch [until] our next off-day,” Bell said. “We’ve got to take a close look, make sure we have enough innings, make sure we have who we need to win those games. No decisions yet on that.”