Reds Lose Series

The NL playoff teams were decided Monday, but the scenario materialized clearer Wednesday when a St. Louis win along with losses by Cincinnati and Pittsburgh clinched a division crown for the Cardinals. The two wild card teams will play each other in the final weekend of the season to determine the venue of the one-game wild card play-in game.

Cincinnati failed to dent the plate in a 1-0 loss in the rubber game of their home series against the Mets. The Reds were limited to four hits on the afternoon. Jay Bruce reached safely twice from a hit and a walk while Shin-soo Choo walked twice.

On the mound Mat Latos took a tough loss from allowing one run on four hits/two walks in seven innings while striking out seven. Manny Parra and Aroldis Chapman finished the game with one scoreless frame each.

The loss eliminated Cincinnati from winning the division championship. They clinched at least the second wild card with their win in the series opener on Monday. There is one three-game home series remaining in their regular season schedule against the other wild card team, Pittsburgh. The Pirates also lost Wednesday and maintain a one-game lead over the Reds. Those two teams are 8-8 against each other on the season, so the winner of the series will also own the head-to-head tie-breaker and will host one-game wildcard play-in game.

Billy Hamilton got the start in the outfield and provided one of the Cincinnati hits in the fifth inning, but he was gunned down trying to steal second base. It was the first time he'd been caught after starting his MLB career with thirteen successful stolen base attempts. At first he was used primarily as a pinch-runner, but he's now getting more plate appearances where he's gone 7-18 with a couple of walks which will probably solidify his spot on the post season roster. Manager Dusty Baker's confidence on the rookie's ability to continue getting on first base will likely determine if he gets any post-season starts.

But first the Reds have to take care of business in the one-game playoff. Winning home field advantage and avoiding a trip to the Steel City would certainly be preferred. Cincinnati is 4-3 with the final series pending against the Bucs in Great American Ball Park this season.

They will get Thursday off to prepare for the final series. Homer Bailey is expected to face off against A.J. Burnett in the opener. Bailey is 0-2 with a 3.50 ERA in three appearances against the Pirates this season. He faced them in his last appearance when a couple of unearned runs helped pin the loss on him as he failed to finish the sixth inning for the only time in his last eight starts. Burnett is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three 2013 starts against Cincinnati. He got the win over Bailey in his last outing when the Pirates won 4-2 at PNC Park.

A third division championship in the last four years would have been nice for the Reds, but now it's not going to happen. Should they win the play-in game all will be forgotten. With their season on the line and one game to play it's likely they will make sure that Latos is rested and ready to take the ball.

The Reds are in the post-season, but they must win a game to go anywhere. They have guaranteed their third 90-win season in the last four years after failing to reach that level every season after 1999. There might be a temptation to rest some players on the final day if the first two games of the series are not split. Any rest will be brief as the Reds will have a shot to advance to the NLDS for the first time since 1995. St. Louis won on Wednesday to take a half game lead over Atlanta for the top record in the NL. The two teams are tied in the loss column with the West-winning Dodgers one behind and whoever finishes on top will meet the wild-card game winner.

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