Late rallies hurt Padres against Reds

Late rallies hurt Padres against Reds

CINCINNATI -- They have figuratively dropped the ball plenty this season, so when the Padres literally dropped one on Wednesday against the Reds, it should have come to no surprise to anyone.

That didn't mean it hurt any less, though.

When Padres shortstop Khalil Greene dropped a ball in a run down, it paved to way to a three-run sixth inning that set the wheels turning for the Reds' 9-5 victory over San Diego before a crowd of 22,970 at Great American Ball Park.

While the fact that the normally sure-handed Greene made an error was surprising, that the play in question ended up hurting the Padres and pitcher Greg Maddux wasn't all too unusual.

Maddux, who opened Wednesday's game with four scoreless innings, did not finish the sixth inning and, in turn, was left with another missed opportunity at career victory No. 351, the 14th consecutive start he's made without a victory.

It's the longest stretch without a victory the future Hall of Famer has endured over his career. Maddux's last victory came on May 10 against the Colorado Rockies.

"Immensely," Padres reliever Heath Bell said when asked how bothered he was that the Padres can't seem to get Maddux a victory. "I know I blew up one or two of his games. ... I told him I would give him all my wins. He told me I needed them more than him."

Maddux appeared on his way to winning Wednesday, as much so as any Padres pitcher has this vexing road trip that has seen them score first in six of the seven games they've played only to lose six of those games.

The Padres' crafty righty moved efficiently through the Reds' lineup, allowing only a solo home run to Javier Valentin in the fifth inning. But the sixth inning wouldn't go nearly as smoothly, even though Maddux struck out the leadoff hitter, Ken Griffey Jr., looking.

Maddux allowed a single to Brandon Phillips, who then stole second base. With slugger Adam Dunn up, Maddux wheeled and threw to second base to catch Phillips off the base.

A run down ensued and third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff managed to chase Phillips back toward second base. But Greene dropped the throw as Phillips raced for third base. Dunn then singled up the middle to knock in Phillips to cut the Padres' lead to 3-2.

"No, I didn't lose it, it hit me in the palm of the glove," Greene said of the play when he was asked if he was obstructed during the run down.

That was it for Maddux, as Cla Meredith -- who struck out four in two scoreless innings on Tuesday -- came in to try to get a ground ball. Instead, Edwin Encarnacion jumped on a slider up in the strike zone for a two-run home run and a 4-3 lead.

"It's unfortunate that we drop that ball and it leads to three runs," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Here again, I don't know how many synonyms there are for frustrating, but he [Maddux] pitched great."

Maddux, for his part, was diplomatic after the game. He is not deterred by his stretch of games without a victory -- he is 0-5 with eight no-decisions in that stretch. He was already looking ahead to his next start.

"I still enjoy playing the game, grinding every pitch," he said. "I appreciate the fact I'm still playing and playing well enough to win. I'm looking forward to going out there in five days and trying ahead."

There's some speculation that Maddux's next start could come with another team with the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline drawing near. Maddux wants to stay on the West Coast. A source said he would like to be traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers if he is to indeed leave San Diego.

San Diego got a leadoff home run by Jody Gerut in the first inning off Cincinnati pitcher Bronson Arroyo, who also allowed a two-run home run to Kevin Kouzmanoff in the sixth inning as the Padres took a 3-1 lead.

It wasn't enough, though. After the sixth inning, the Reds scored five times in the seventh inning, with four runs coming on a grand slam by Dunn off relief pitcher Joe Thatcher, who was optioned to Triple-A Portland after the game.

The loss left the Padres, who won 89 games last season, on pace for 102 losses. When that projected number of losses was presented to Bell after Wednesday's game, he hardly flinched.

"But I don't think we're going to lose 102 games," Bell said. "What's frustrating is that we're in every game. That's more frustrating than getting blown out. Really, we could have won the series in St. Louis and here.

"We can't do the little things it takes to take the lead and then keep it."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.