McCoy: Negatives keep piling up for struggling Reds

Cincinnati blanked by Los Angeles, 4-0

The negative numbers continue to pile up on the Cincinnati Reds with more frustration Saturday night, a 4-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

That’s 14 defeats in their last 17 games and they’ve crash-landed into last place in the National League Central.

While getting shut out for the fourth time this season, they produced three lonely hits.

They struck out 11 times while drawing no walks.

They thought they might see a weak Walker Buehler. After nearly two years away because of two Tommy John surgeries, Buehler was 0-1 with a 7.56 earned run average in his two starts this season.

But on Saturday he pitched like a Cy Young candidate — six innings, no runs, three hits, no walks and seven strikeouts.

Then three Dodger relievers each pitched one perfect inning as the last 11 Reds went down with little more than a whimper.

Cincinnati starter Graham Ashcraft matched Buehler zero for zero through three innings.

After three innings, Ashcraft had given up no runs, no hits and just one walk.

But the Dodgers wore him out and he ended up throwing 102 pitches over six innings, 44 in the first two innings during which LA fouled off 16 pitches. They ended up fouling off 24.

Ashcraft, though, walked two in the fourth inning and both scored. He walked Freddy Freeman to open the inning and walked Teoscar Hernandez with one out.

Andy Pages singled home Freeman as Hernandez took third, enabling him to score on a wild pitch for a 2-0 lead.

The Dodgers made it 3-0 in the fifth on a one-out double by No. 9 hitter Miguel Rojas and a two-out run-scoring single by Freeman.

Rookie Carson Spiers, called up three days ago when Nick Lodolo went on the injured list, pitched the last two innings. He gave up a run in the eighth on Freeman’s leadoff double and Hernandez’s single.

Mookie Betts, the usual LA leadoff hitter, took the night off and Shohei Ohtani batted leadoff for the first time and went 0 for 4.

But Freeman produced two hits, a walk, scored two runs and drove in one.

Cincinnati’s first hit came with two outs in the third inning, a single by rookie Jacob Hurtubise. It was his first major-league hit, and it was apropos in that it came on Armed Forces Day for the West Point graduate.

The Reds’ only real opportunity arrived in the fifth. Jake Fraley shot a line drive to left center. Left fielder Miguel Vargas and center fielder Pages tripped over each other and the ball ticked off Pages’s glove and Fraley ran out a triple.

But he remained anchored when Jeimer Candelario popped out and Jonathan India grounded to second.

From the sixth through the ninth, the Reds’ only baserunner was Will Benson, a one-out single in the sixth. But Elly De La Cruz and Mike Ford both struck out.

The negatives were rampant on this chilly evening in Chavez Ravine in front of 49,239.

De La Cruz was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and is 0 for 8 with four strikeouts in the last two losses to the Dodgers.

Spencer Steer was 0 for 4 and is on a 0 for 18 skid. Candelario was 0 for 3, ending his seven-game hitting streak. Tyler Stephenson had 10 hits in his previous six games but was 0 for 3.

The Reds are 4-10 against the National League West and their next seven games are against the NL West — four against the Dodgers and three against the San Diego Padres.

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