If the lineup on Thursday looked as though the Reds were giving up on the 2014, then no one told the players as Cincinnati rallied from a 7-2 deficit, but it was the bullpen that let it get away as Baltimore completed the sweep at home with a 9-7 victory.
Thursdays's lineup featured five of the ten September call-ups and featured only two everyday starters in Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco to support Mike Leake. Leake needed all the help he could get as the Orioles (82-57) lit up the Reds starter for seven runs through four innings.
He was lucky to escape the first inning as Baltimore pummeled anything and everything Leake threw its way. Nelson Cruz started with his Major League best 37th home run with a runner on to make it a quick 2-0 with two outs. J.J. Hardy had a walk sandwiched in between doubles by Chris Davis and Kelly Johnson to make it 3-0. With two on and two out Nick Hundley cleared the bases with a homer of his own for a 6-0 advantage.
The Reds (66-74) managed to get a few back against Chris Tillman when they loaded the bases on a Tucker Barnhart walk and then back-to-back singles by Jason Bourgeois and Ramon Santiago. Frazier drew a walk to score Barnhart and then Bourgeois scored on a sac fly by Mesoraco. The runs stopped there as Donald Lutz struck out to end the inning.
Jonathan Schoop was in the mix once again as he will be sad to see Cincinnati leave. In the three games against the Reds Schoop went 4-10 with a home run in all three contests and drove in five including one in the fourth inning off Leake to make it 7-2. Pedro Villarreal put Leake out of his misery and tossed two scoreless innings to help the Reds work their way back.
It started in the sixth when Mesoraco homered off Tillman in the sixth, but it was the O's bullpen that opened the flood gates in the seventh. Brad Brach walked the bases loaded and then after striking out Frazier for the second out, threw a wild pitch that allowed Barnhart to score. Mesoraco, who was the team's DH on Thursday, doubled in Bourgeois and Santiago to make it a 7-6 game. Lutz would not fail this time as Tommy Hunter (3-2) came on in relief of Brach and gave up and RBI single to Lutz. Brayan Pena came on to pinch hit for Yorman Rodriguez, who was making his MLB debut, and was not able to give Cincinnati the lead when he grounded out to Hunter to end the big inning.
The celebration was short lived as Manny Parra (0-2) allowed a lead-off single to Nick Markakis who was then bunted over by Alejandro De Aza. Sam LeCure came on in relief of Parra and allowed a single to Adam Jones before walking Cruz to load the bases. LeCure struck out Davis, but Hardy singled in a pair to give Baltimore a 9-7 lead. Jumbo Diaz stopped the bleeding with a ground out by Johnson to end the inning.
Jack Hannahan tried to rally the Reds with a lead-off double in the eighth, but was stranded at third. Zach Britton came on in the ninth and held the Reds in check for his 33rd save of the season.
Cincinnati now returns home for a seven-game homestand with the Mets (66-74) and first place Cardinals starting Friday. Alfredo Simon (13-9, 3.28 ERA) looks to stop the Reds skid against Bartolo Colon (12-11, 4.01 ERA) with first pitch set for 7:10 p.m.