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Mistakes prove costly for Reds in 7-4 loss to Phillies

A disastrous seventh inning for Cincinnati gives Philadelphia the lead in Game 2, and the Phillies go on to take a 2-0 lead in the National League division series.

October 08, 2010|By Kevin Baxter

Reporting from Philadelphia — The Cincinnati Reds watched their season come apart Friday quicker than you can say, "See you in spring training."

In the span of four batters and 11 pitches, the Reds saw a batter awarded first base even though the pitch never appeared to hit him, saw a runner called safe after he apparently missed the base and watched a sure-handed outfielder lose a line drive in the lights.

By the time the seventh inning was over, the Reds had turned a one-run lead into a two-run deficit en route to a 7-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 2 of their National League division series, pushing them to the brink of elimination in the best-of-five series, which resumes Sunday in Cincinnati.

But if the Reds are going down, at least they're falling on their own swords. Because while Cincinnati had several places to turn for blame Friday, this loss, they insisted, was on them.

"We did ourselves in. It sucks, man," said second baseman Brandon Phillips, who committed three errors in the regular season but made two in less than three innings Friday.

"Obviously we need to play better baseball," added Scott Rolen, the second-best-fielding third baseman in baseball during the regular season whose fifth-inning error led to an unearned run.

"In my mind," concluded Manager Dusty Baker, "we lost the game. We ended up giving them most of their runs."

Four of them, in fact, since just two of Philadelphia's runs were earned, thanks to errors by Rolen and Phillips on consecutive two-out plays in the fifth and errors by Bruce and Phillips on the same play in the seventh.

That wiped out the remnants of a 4-0 Cincinnati lead built around two solo homers, one by Phillips leading off the game and the other by Bruce leading off the fourth. Phillips also doubled and scored in the fifth.

Nine outs away from going home with the series tied, however, the Reds saw things unravel in the seventh, which started with flame-throwing reliever Aroldis Chapman pitching to the Phillies' Chase Utley. The third pitch, a fastball the radar guns clocked at 102 mph, sailed straight to the backstop. After a brief pause, Utley grabbed his hand and trotted to first.

And plate umpire Bruce Dreckman allowed him to, even though Utley never reacted as if he had been hit by a ball traveling 102 mph.

"It was pretty close," Utley said afterward. "I felt like I thought it hit me, so I put my head down and ran to first."

Phillips didn't buy it, though.

"If it would have hit Chase, he probably would have been on the ground," he said. "If it would have hit me, I would have been on the ground."

The plot thickened an out later when Jason Werth grounded to Rolen, who threw to second for a force — only to have umpire Ed Rapuano call Utley safe.

"I really thought he was out," Phillips said. "His foot didn't touch the bag."

Jimmy Rollins followed that with line drive right at Bruce in right field, but the outfielder missed the ball completely. And when Phillips dropped the relay, both runners scored, leaving the Reds with a mountain to climb just to bring the series back to Philadelphia next week.

First they will have to beat Cole Hamels, a pitcher who has never lost to them, and then in Game 4 — if there is one — they will have to beat Roy Halladay, who pitched a no-hitter against them Wednesday.

"You really don't have a choice," Baker said. "You either tighten it up and fight even harder or you just quit and go home. We're going home and we'll get it together at home."

Back in the quiet clubhouse, Phillips didn't sound quite as sure.

"I believe in us. I really feel like we can do this," he said with little conviction. "We'll be OK."

Perhaps the best advice the Reds got, however, came from the other side.

"What I have learned is when you do make an error, you have to put it behind you," Utley said. "You can't change it at that point. All you can do is move forward."

Even if all you're doing is moving closer to elimination.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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