CINCINNATI -- Since many call August the "dog days" of summer, they could consider this particular August a big ol' St. Bernard of a month for the Reds. Friday's 5-3 loss to St. Louis gave Cincinnati a 3-11 record for the month so far. The Reds were coming off a victory at Pittsburgh on Thursday, but they have not put together consecutive wins this month. "Yeah, it's very frustrating. It's a tale of highs and lows," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Certainly, it's been almost all lows. Like many of the other recent losses, the opposing team scored first. Bronson Arroyo gave up key two-out hits early and paid for it. Arroyo (10-10) allowed five earned runs and nine hits over 6 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out five. In the St. Louis first inning, Arroyo gave up Ryan Ludwick's one-out double and then got Albert Pujols to pop out. The damage was done when a 2-2 curveball left up to Rick Ankiel was launched for a two-run homer to right field. Coming in, Ankiel was 4-for-10 with two homers lifetime vs. Arroyo. "The pitch to Ankiel in the first inning crushed me," Arroyo said. "I think if I bounce that, he swings through it. But I left it in the middle of the zone, and he hit it hard." The Reds had only five hits in the game, and two of them belonged to rookie Chris Dickerson. Leading off the bottom of the first, Dickerson halved the 2-0 deficit with his first career home run -- a shot to right field off Cardinals starter Brad Thompson. Dickerson added a double in the eighth, making all six of his big league hits for extra bases. It was Thompson's first start since June 19, as he moved out of the bullpen to start in place of the injured Chris Carpenter. Thompson had pretty good command of the Reds. Of his three runs allowed over five innings, two were earned on three hits with one walk and four strikeouts. Cardinals runners were on first and second before Arroyo notched two outs in the second. Again, he was unable to escape clean. Skip Schumaker got the run back by lofting an RBI single that dropped into left field. "Two-out hits are killers," Baker said. "You're one pitch from getting out of the inning. They got a couple of big ones, and that was the difference in the ballgame." Cincinnati chipped away again in the bottom half of the inning. Javier Valentin hit a leadoff double and later scored on Corey Patterson's sacrifice fly to make it a 3-2 game. The Cardinals had the bases loaded with one out in the third and Arroyo nearly got out of it. Second baseman Brandon Phillips made a nice effort on Jason LaRue's tough ground ball to the middle, but the Reds couldn't complete the double play, allowing Pujols to score. Another Reds run scored in the fifth, only to be trumped by another Cardinals tally in the top of the sixth. Felipe Lopez hit a leadoff triple and scored on LaRue's sacrifice fly. "Every time we would score, they would score," Baker said. There was no more scoring once the bullpens took over. St. Louis relievers retired 12 of Cincinnati's final 14 batters. The Reds, who are 54-69 and 21 1/2 games out of first place in the National League Central, dropped a season-high seven straight home games. "They just played a good ballgame and did things when they needed to a little better than we did," Arroyo said.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.