The Cincinnati Reds have been hanging on in the National League West with excellent pitching. This time it wasn't enough.
The Reds got seven overpowering innings from Mario Soto Monday at San Francisco but squandered a two-run lead and lost to the San Francisco Giants, 4-3, on Dan Gladden's two-out, run-scoring single in the ninth inning.
The defeat probably proved fatal to Cincinnati's pennant chances, reducing the Dodgers' magic number for winning the West to two.
"Obviously, it was a tough game to lose," Reds' Manager Pete Rose said. "Soto threw real, real well. We might have gotten caught up with the strikeouts and figured two runs was enough to win."
Soto struck out 14 batters, one under his career high, and allowed just three hits, including two infield singles, in seven innings.
Soto was pitching for the first time in 2 1/2 weeks, and the Giants' Jose Uribe said, "Man, he was nasty. That was a lot better than he threw the other times against us."
With one out in the Giants' ninth, Matt Nokes reached base on an infield hit and Brad Wellman came into run for him. Jose Uribe also had an infield single off Ted Power (7-6), who got David Green to force out Uribe at second before Gladden delivered the backbreaker to the Reds.
"Everything had eyes except my pitching," Power said in disgust. Scott Garrelts (9-4) pitched the ninth for the victory as three Giants' pitchers held the Reds to three hits.
Added Rose: "I don't know how to describe those hits. But you've got to remember we had only three hits all day."
San Francisco broke a five-game losing streak and snapped a four-game Reds' winning streak.
Trailing, 3-2, the Giants tied the score in the eighth when pinch hitter Chris Brown led off with a single and Gladden sacrificed him to second. Bob Brenley's two-out single scored Brown.
The Reds broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the eighth when Eric Davis walked, stole second and went to third when catcher Nokes' throw went into center field. Buddy Bell brought Davis home with a sacrifice fly.
The Reds built a 2-0 lead against Vida Blue on home runs by Nick Esasky, his 20th, in the second, and another by Davis in the third.
Nokes brought the Giants even with a two-run homer in the seventh.
Soto struck out 13 and allowed only Uribe's infield single in the fifth, through six innings. The right-hander, who had not pitched since Sept. 13 because of foot and shoulder problems, retired the first two batters in the seventh, one on a strikeout, before the Giants tied the score on Dan Driessen's infield single and Nokes' second homer of the season.