Reds inch closer to wild card game

Reds inch closer to wild card game

Published Sep. 24, 2013 11:24 p.m. ET

CINCINNATI – Sometimes you just get beat. The Reds got beat Tuesday night by a hot pitcher and some good defense and one big swing of the bat by the New York Mets, 4-2.

The only way this loss could’ve come at a worse time is if it had come on Wednesday. Or next Tuesday, because it would now seem to be their fate to play in the National League Wild Card playoff game.

Chasing St. Louis for the NL Central division title, the Reds now trail the Cardinals by three games with four left to play, leaving them a division elimination number of 2. They are also now one game behind Pittsburgh for second place in the division and for the first wild card spot.

It’s not over ‘til it’s over but…

“Tomorrow’s another day and we’ve got to put this one behind us,” said manager Dusty Baker. “We’ve got four to go. I’d like to win it.”

The Reds managed just two runs on eight hits against Mets left-hander Jon Niese in seven innings and had just one base runner over their final 16 batters. Mike Leake had failed to go at least five innings just once in 30 previous starts this season, and he'd gone at least six innings 23 times, but he lasted only 1 2/3 innings this night, allowing four runs on eight hits, the most damaging being a three-run home run on a 10-pitch at-bat by Daniel Murphy in the second inning that gave New York a 4-0 lead.

The Reds’ bullpen of Zach Duke, Logan Ondrusek, J.J. Hoover, Sean Marshall and Alfredo Simon combined to shut New York out the final 7 1/3 innings, allowing the Mets just one base runner over their final 16 batters, but the Reds’ offense never mustered a serious rally attempt. They had two runners on base at the same time just twice in the game – in the first and fifth innings – but got just one run out of the situations.

Joey Votto and Jay Bruce were a combined 0-for-8 with five strikeouts. Three times they went down looking against Niese.

Even when things went the Reds’ way, they didn’t. Ryan Ludwick had a rough night on Monday, going 0-for-4 and leaving 10 runners on base. After Votto struck out looking with Shin-Soo Choo and Brandon Phillips on first and second, Ludwick delivered a solid single to centerfield. Choo was waved home but Juan Lagares threw him out. Bruce ended the inning striking out looking.

Choo led off the fifth with a triple that Lagares misplayed. Phillips walked but the only run the Reds got was when Choo crossed the plate on a 4-6-3 double play by Votto.

The only runner the Reds got the rest of game was when Todd Frazier reached base with one out in the ninth inning on a wild pitch while striking out. The game ended when Zack Cozart grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

“We didn't lose tonight. We got beat, and sometimes you get beat. You don't like it but those guys get paid over there,” said Baker. “It was big when (Lagares) threw out Choo. That was an outstanding throw. You don’t know if there was a turning point in the game but if the throw had been off a little bit or whatever, who knows how many we would have gotten?”

Mat Latos will start Wednesday against Daisuke Matsuzaka. It puts Johnny Cueto in line to pitch Sunday’s regular season finale against the Pirates and lines up Latos to pitch the wild card game. The Reds aren’t out of the division race yet but fate isn’t smiling on them. It certainly didn’t on Tuesday.