McCoy: Reds can’t rally from big early hole, fall to Padres for fifth straight time

It was another in a long string of nights when a Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher dug an early hole from which his teammates couldn’t extricate themselves.

Vladimir Gutierrez needed a lighted miner’s helmet, a GPS and a Sherpa guide to locate home plate. And he never did find it Wednesday night in Great American Ball Park.

Gutierrez gave up six runs on five hits and a career-most six walks in four innings. And it led to an 8-5 loss to the San Diego Padres, Cincinnati’s 13th defeat in its last 14 games.

And the Reds starting staff’s earned run average crept ever closer to 8.00, by far the worst of all major league teams by more than a point.

The 3-15 Reds have gone 18 games without a single quality start (six innings, three or fewer runs).

In stark contrast, the Padres have had 10 quality starts in their first 19 games.

They didn’t get one Wednesday night, but rookie MacKenzie Gore, making his third major league start, came as close as a pitcher can come.

He pitched five innings and held the Reds to one run and five hits while walking two and striking out 10.

It all added up to San Diego’s fifth straight win over the Reds this season and its 11th win over the Reds in 12 games the last two years.

There was one glimmer of positivity on another mostly dismal night for the Reds in near-empty GABP.

Cincinnati native and Moeller High School graduate Phillip Diehl was called up from Class AAA Louisville on Tuesday night.

He made his Reds’ debut Wednesday glittery and glorious. He pitched two perfect innings, six up and six down, with two strikeouts.

Gutierrez started with style, a 1-2-3 first inning.

And the Reds made noise in the first against Gore. Jonathan India and Brandon Drury opened with singles.

After Tommy Pham struck out, Joey Votto walked to fill the bases with one out. But Kyle Farmer struck out and Nick Senzel grounded out.

And that’s when composure, command and control abandoned Gutierrez. He walked the bases loaded in the second with one out. He escaped with only one run. a sacrifice fly by Luis Campusano for a 1-0 Padres lead.

It all came apart in the third when the first four Padres hit safely and four runs crossed the plate.

Trent Grisham led with a triple and Jake Cronenworth blooped a single to center to make it 2-0. Manny Machado blooped a single to center and Jurickson Profar launched a three-run home run.

Jurickson hit four home runs last season and Wednesday’s three-run rip was his fifth in San Diego’s 19th game. And it pushed the Padres ahead, 5-0.

The Reds pushed a run across in their third on Pham’s single and a two-out double by Kyle Farmer. Pham was called out at home, but the Reds challenged the call, and he was ruled safe.

San Diego retrieved the run in the fifth when they filled the bases with no outs. Luis Cessa replaced Gutierrez and Eric Hosmer singled home a run. Further damage was averted when the Reds turned an 8-2-5 double play on a fly ball to center fielder Senzel.

University of Dayton product Craig Stammen replaced Gore in the sixth and the Reds threatened to get back into the game.

They loaded the bases with no outs in a strange manner. Farmer doubled and Senzel reached on catcher’s interference, the second time in two nights and the ninth time for his career.

Manager David Bell, sensing the opportunity to scramble back into the game, sent up three straight pinch-hitters. Jake Fraley batted for Aristides Aquino (23 strikeouts in 40 at bats this season) and was hit by a pitch, filling the bases.

Tyler Naquin batted for Aramis Garcia and struck out. Colin Moran batted for newly-acquired Matt Reynolds and lifted a sacrifice fly to make it 6-2. It ended with only one run when India struck out.

The Reds crept to within three in the seventh when Pham barely cleared the left field wall with his third home run, all three against the Padres, his former team, and it was 6-3.

After striking out with the bases loaded in the first inning, Farmer banged three straight doubles, including one with two outs in the seventh. Senzel, though, couldn’t get him home when he grounded out.

Alexis Diaz trudged to the mound for the seventh, carrying a 0.00 earned run average. Eric Hosmer ruined that quickly, launching a home run that had more hang time than a Bryson DeChambeau tee shot that landed halfway up the right field seats and it was 7-3.

The Padres added a run in the ninth against Dauri Moreta on a hit by pitch and Machado’s double to make it 8-3.

Brandon Drury crushed a home run in the bottom of the ninth. Pham walked and scored on Farmer’s fourth double to pull the Reds within three runs. When Senzel walked, the Reds had the tying run at the plate.

That forced Padres manager Bob Melvin to bring in closer Taylor Rogers, a left-hander, to face left-hander Jake Fraley.

It ended on one pitch, a shallow fly ball and Rogers had his seventh save in seven appearances.

Amazingly, although the Reds scored five runs, they were 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11.

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