CINCINNATI -- Aaron Harang's start against the Cubs came down to one inning. Again. In six of the 7 1/3 innings Harang pitched on Monday, he plowed through Chicago hitters, striking out one after the other. But the one inning the Cubs got to him was just enough to increase his winless streak to 13 starts, as the Reds lost their seventh consecutive game, 4-2. They have now lost 13 of 14. Harang gave up a three-run homer to Mike Fontenot in the second that gave the Cubs an early lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"I made a mistake, that was it," Harang said. "I thought I made some good pitches earlier on in that at-bat. But things didn't go my way." Other than the homer, Harang put up another quality outing. He recorded 10 strikeouts and scattered just four hits outside the second. He set down the Cubs in order four times. He did give up a run in the eighth before he left with one out, but the Reds canceled that run when Alex Gonzalez hit a solo homer to left field in the bottom of the frame to make it 4-1. One inning has cost Harang before. Against the Padres on July 29, he gave up five runs in the first inning en route to a 7-1 loss. And against the Brewers on July 18, he gave up four runs in the fourth in a 5-1 loss. This time it was the second inning that came back to bite him. After he got Aramis Ramirez to fly out, he hit Milton Bradley with a pitch and gave up a single to Alfonso Soriano. Then Fontenot, who entered the game batting .333 against Harang with two homers, made Harang pay for a fastball up that got away. "[Harang] pitched great tonight," manager Dusty Baker said. "Sometimes there's no explanation why a guy hits you very well." Homers have plagued Harang, who hasn't won a start since May 25, posting a record of 0-9 with a 5.49 ERA since then. He has given up 15 homers during his winless stretch. "What can you do?" Harang said. "You go out and give us a chance to win. If I try to go out there and press and be perfect, that's when you really get into trouble." Though Harang didn't have much trouble against the Cubs' lineup most of the way, Chicago starter Randy Wells didn't have any against the Cincinnati lineup. All season, Harang hasn't gotten much help offensively, and that was the case against Wells. Entering Monday's game, the Reds had averaged just 3.52 runs per start by Harang. The Reds couldn't even muster that on Monday. "If anybody needed a victory on this team and [helped] our chances of a victory, it was Aaron," Baker said. "If we can get the guy that's our horse a victory and get on a roll, that's what you've got to do." The Reds had one last chance to save Harang from a defeat in the ninth. Carlos Marmol walked Laynce Nix, and one out later gave up a single to Ryan Hanigan. After a flyout, Gonzalez fought Marmol in an 11-pitch at-bat before drilling a double to left field. Willy Taveras came up to the plate representing the tying run, but he grounded out to first. For Harang, it was just another thing that didn't go his way.
Steve Gartner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.