CLEVELAND -- Coming into this road trip, the Reds had struggled to score runs. But now, even their starting pitching is suffering. Aaron Harang was the latest Reds pitcher to have a bad outing in Cincinnati's 9-2 loss to the last-place Indians on Friday at Progressive Field. Harang pitched just 4 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs, five earned, on 10 hits, while striking out three and walking one.
In the first four games of the current six-game road trip, Reds starters have given up 22 earned runs in 20 innings (9.90 ERA). Cincinnati is 1-3 in those games and has lost five of its past six. "You try not to think about it," Harang said. "But eventually, it gets to you. There's only so long that you can go out and pitch a normal game." While Harang didn't do much to keep Cincinnati in the game, neither did the offense. Like it has for much of the season, the Reds' offense struggled at the plate. Jeremy Sowers, who was 0-2 with an 8.55 ERA in four career starts against Cincinnati coming into the game, went seven innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits with six strikeouts and a walk. Sowers owned a 1-5 record with a 5.95 ERA this season. He had gone more than five innings just once and, before Friday's start, had not gone more than six innings on the year. But the left-hander was able to baffle Cincinnati hitters. After Jonny Gomes' single in the second -- the Reds' first of the game -- Sowers kept Cincinnati of the bases until he walked left fielder Chris Dickerson in the sixth inning. The Reds didn't get another hit until Brandon Phillips doubled, and eventually scored, in the seventh. But by then, the Reds were down, 9-1. "He got strike one on us," manager Dusty Baker said of Sowers. "He got some balls in on us. I thought we were going to fare a little better." Although Harang had fared well in his career against the Tribe (3-1, 2.24 ERA), the Indians got to him early and often. The first sign of trouble for Harang came in the third inning when Indians first baseman Ryan Garko singled. After a flyout, second baseman Jamey Carroll singled and Grady Sizemore doubled to score Garko. After a sacrifice fly by Victor Martinez, the Indians led, 2-0. But the trouble wouldn't stop there. After getting the first two batters out in the fourth inning, Harang gave up a single to Jhonny Peralta and a two-run home run to Garko to give the Tribe a 4-0 lead. The last straw for Harang came in the seventh, when Martinez hit a solo homer, Shin-Soo Choo singled, stole second base and then scored on a throwing error by Phillips. Travis Hafner then scored from first on Peralta's double to give the Indians a 7-0 lead. "[Harang] found the heart of the plate a lot," Baker said. "Usually, Aaron is around the corners. But today, he was up around home plate. They hit some balls hard." The Reds got their first run in the seventh on Gomes' single, which scored Phillips. The second baseman slipped making a turn around second base on his double. He was then replaced by Adam Rosales at the bottom of the inning. Catcher Ramon Hernandez was also replaced by catcher Ryan Hanigan. But Baker said it was just to get other players at-bats in a game that was already out of reach. Cincinnati's only other run came in the eighth inning, after Willy Taveras doubled in Dickerson. "The game was ugly," Baker said. "We just got beat up pretty good."
Matt O'Donnell is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.