Belisle shaky as Reds fall to LA

Belisle shaky as Reds fall to LA

CINCINNATI -- The timing of Matt Belisle's first start on Monday couldn't have been much better. The outcome couldn't have been much worse.

Josh Fogg's struggles and subsequent demotion to the bullpen opened up a rotation spot with Belisle's name on the gift wrap. A scuffling Dodgers' offense seemed to make an optimal foe.

Yet there was Belisle explaining what went wrong after he was hammered for seven runs and 12 hits over four-plus innings in a 9-3 Reds loss to Los Angeles. The right-hander didn't give his team much of a chance after he trailed, 5-0, through three innings.

Before the night was over, Fogg was on in relief for two innings of mop-up duty.

"Hit me with it," Belisle said from his locker as the media assembled around him. "You all saw it. That was just a beating. It was a lot of hits."

It took two pitches into the game to realize this might not be Belisle's night. On a 1-0 fastball over the heart of the plate, Rafael Furcal hit a leadoff home run into the right-field seats. Furcal has reached in all 19 of his games this season.

"The guy is hot, and I put it right in the spot where we all knew not to put it," Belisle said.

In the second inning, a Joey Votto fielding error on James Loney's grounder to first base led to a pair of runs. With two outs and runners on the corners, Russell Martin hit a single to center field. Nomar Garciaparra followed with another single to center.

The first three Dodgers batters reached on hits in the third inning, including a two-run single by Loney that made it 5-0. The Reds, which have lost eight of 10 games, have let their opponents score first in 12 of their past 14 games.

"They jumped us early, didn't they? It was a merry-go-round out there for a while," said manager Dusty Baker, whose club is 0-7 in series-opening games this season. "It makes it tough when you're playing from behind all the time."

Belisle went back out for the fifth but was unable to record an out. Jeff Kent led off with an infield single. A single by Andre Ethier followed before Matt Kemp stroked an RBI double to left field for a 6-0 Dodgers lead that finalized Belisle's early exit and Jeremy Affeldt's entrance from the bullpen.

Another run scored on a groundout and was charged to Belisle. It was hard to believe this was the same Dodgers club that just got swept in three games by the Braves while going 1-for-23 with runners in scoring position.

"Early, he made some quality pitches. Later, he was getting behind," Baker said of Belisle. "They're a good-hitting club even though they're not hitting. When you get behind guys, you have to come over the heart of the plate. They didn't miss them. They were hitting some balls pretty hard."

Of the seven runs Belisle (0-1) allowed, five were earned. He walked one and struck out three. For the fourth time in their past six games, the Reds' starting pitcher didn't make it through six innings.

"Obviously, it's a pretty tough disappointment to come out like that and have those results," Belisle said.

Consistently good results have not been Belisle's forte since becoming a full-time starter last season. He was 8-9 with a 5.32 ERA in 30 starts in 2007, but still came to Spring Training with the inside track for one of three open rotation spots.

A lackluster camp put Belisle on the outside looking in. A sore forearm muscle developed in the late going to put him on the disabled list. In three rehab-assignment starts in the Minors, he went 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA, one walk and 12 strikeouts. The final outing was on Tuesday for Triple-A Louisville, and Fogg's two-inning, nine-run outing vs. the Cubs the following night brought about the change.

What a difference that one final level makes.

"Hopefully, Matty puts this behind him and has a great start the next time out," Baker said.

Dodgers starter Brad Penny (3-2) allowed one earned run and six hits over six innings with two walks and four strikeouts. The Reds got desperate quickly trying to create something. In the bottom of the third and despite trailing by five runs, Ryan Freel hit a leadoff single and subsequently got caught stealing with Brandon Phillips batting.

"That was on me," Baker said. "Even though we're down 5-0 and not scoring runs early in the game, you still have to try and get something going. We were trying to get back on the board. At that point, we were getting it taken to us. We were trying to reverse it and take it to them. You have two choices, you can get beat up or try to fight back and do something."

Paul Bako's RBI double in the fifth inning was the lone run scored against Penny. Edwin Encarnacion added a solo home run in the seventh inning off reliever Chan Ho Park. In the bottom of the ninth, Park surrendered a mammoth Votto solo homer that traveled 466 feet and clanked off the riverboat above the center-field batters' eye.

By then the Reds' boat had long since sunk.

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