Not only did the Reds drop the game by a 10-8 score to the White Sox, they let Chicago score all of its runs after Cincinnati jumped out to a 5-0 lead, and that made it the largest blown lead of their season. The pregame pomp and circumstance was enjoyable, but at the end of the night, it was still a regular-season game that no one in the Reds clubhouse wanted to lose.
"It was such a great day. We were all really excited about this day," said Reds reliever Nick Masset, who gave up the sixth-inning three-run homer to Alexei Ramirez that put Chicago ahead. "The biggest thing we wanted to do was give our fans a win. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way."
With a sellout crowd of 42,234 on hand at Great American Ball Park, Jonny Gomes gave the Reds their five-run lead with his two-run home run in the third inning off White Sox starter Clayton Richard. For Reds starter Johnny Cueto, who entered the night as the National League leader with a 2.17 ERA, it should have been more than ample cushion.
For the first time since the early days of the season, Cueto didn't have it. His 4 2/3 innings pitched tied a season low and his five earned runs and 10 hits allowed were both season highs. So were the three homers he allowed, which equaled his combined total over the previous four starts.
"I was feeling good, but when you make those kinds of mistakes and miss location, you're going to pay the consequences," Cueto said through interpreter Juan Lopez.
In the Chicago fourth, with the Reds leading by five runs, Gordon Beckham clubbed a 2-1 Cueto pitch for a three-run homer and the first big league long ball of his career. In the fifth, usual slap hitter Scott Podsednik hit a 1-2 pitch for a leadoff homer to right field. Two batters later, also on a 1-2 pitch, A.J. Pierznyski tied the game with a one-out homer to right field.
"I was close to where I wanted those pitches, but maybe they were looking for those pitches," Cueto said.
"Very rarely are you going to see Johnny Cueto with a five-run lead and not hold it," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He fell into certain patterns. They figured that pattern out quickly and started hitting the ball out of the ballpark."
It was also a rare rough night for most of the Reds bullpen, which also gave up five runs and five of the White Sox 15 hits.
Lefty reliever Daniel Herrera (1-3) gave up a one-out single in the sixth and a two-out walk to Podsednik. Masset took over, and his first pitch was sent for a three-run homer just inside the left-field foul pole by Ramirez for the go-ahead runs.
"I was trying to throw a slider and it spun right down the middle," Masset said. "It's probably the first time I've thrown a spinning slider right down the middle and the worst time to do it."
Despite racking up eight runs and 14 hits, the Reds still lacked the put-away punch even as the White Sox gave away wholesale outs by committing four errors.
The Reds scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh on RBI singles from pinch-hitter Wilkin Castillo and Ramon Hernandez but couldn't score anymore after having runners on first and third with no outs. Jay Bruce struck out before Ryan Hanigan flied out and Adam Rosales grounded into a fielder's choice.
"We have to get better at picking up those runners on third and less than two out," Baker said.
Chicago pulled away in the eighth with two more runs against Arthur Rhodes and Jared Burton.
"It's going to happen," Baker said. "I have nothing but great things to say about this bullpen. These guys have carried the load, big time."