Reds Fall in Standings

After a successful home stand the Reds took another loss when opening a road trip at Milwaukee. With two weeks left they're looking at a 3 1/2 game deficit behind the division leader as they hold onto the second wild card spot. They're pitching has been solid all year and now there are concerns on one of the rotation spots pending a couple of starters' ability to return from injury.

After a 7-3 home stand Cincinnati opened a road trip on the wrong foot Friday by losing 5-1 at Milwaukee. Mat Latos was victimized by some bloop hits by Carlos Gomez and took the loss for allowing five runs in six-plus innings off seven hits/three walks while striking out four. Offensively they were limited to four hits/one walk by former Red Kyle Lohse and an RBI groundout in the second by Devin Mesoraco plated Ryan Ludwick who led off the inning with a single for their only run.

Pittsburgh obliged by losing to the Cubs, but St. Louis picked up a game and took over the division lead with an extra-inning win over Seattle leaving the Reds three and a half games out of first and two and a half behind the second place Pirates. With two weeks left in the season the lead is not insurmountable, but it's getting late enough that every additional loss will have a big impact on whether or not they will have to win the play-in game in order to advance in post season. Meanwhile, Washington won their seventh in a row and is now four and a half games behind the Reds for the final wild card spot.

Homer Bailey will try to get their season-ending push for a division title back on track Saturday. He's allowed only two runs over twenty-one innings in his last three starts and has a 4.73 ERA in 26 innings against the Brewers this season. He faced them twice in the second half of August and held them to one run in eight innings for a win on their home field. He came back his next outing to put up a quality start against them in Great American Ball Park for no decision, three runs in six innings pitched. Milwaukee will counter with rookie Johnny Hellweg who will make his fifth MLB appearance and fourth start. The Reds tagged him with a loss in his only appearance against them by scoring four runs in four-plus inning back in July.

Meanwhile, Johnny Cueto got some positive reviews when he threw to some batters in another rehab appearance and is still working his way back onto the mound before the end of the season. Reportedly he got tired after sixty pitches, which wasn't a surprise. Cueto has been limited to only nine games this year while going on the DL three times for the same nagging lat ailment that took him out of action in last year's divisional playoffs. According to reports he's modified his delivery to reduce the amount of twist in his upper torso to protect the lat. When available he's been as effective in 2013 with a 3.33 ERA over 48 innings.

The rotation might need another arm pending the health of rookie Tony Cingrani who left with back spasms in the second inning of his last start against Chicago. Releases from the Reds indicate they're uncertain on his status going forward. Should neither he nor Cueto be available the next time that rotation spot takes its turn, then Greg Reynolds would most likely be handed the ball. Another option would be to take advantage of the two off-days the Reds have remaining plus the one they had Thursday and finish with a four-man rotation when they can still provide normal rest between starts.

The Reds have now lost three of four against the teams with the two worst records in the division after a brilliant 6-1 run against two division leaders. Baseball has a long season and time is running low. However, they've looked down and out before and have managed to bounce back. They're entering today's game winners of 21 out of their last 35 games and appear to be peaking at the right time. If they win the play-in game, then all can be forgotten as they attempt to advance to the LCS for the first time since 1995. For now the task at hand remains to make the play-in game unnecessary.

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