PITTSBURGH -- A Reds road trip that started with such promise and optimism finished at the corner where lousy meets disappointing. A five-run bottom of the fourth inning was all the Pirates needed to send the Reds home with 5-3 loss on Sunday at PNC Park. After the seven-game trip that began 2-0 with two extra-inning wins at Florida, it was completed with five consecutive losses. Feeling urgency for the team to succeed this year, Reds starter Bronson Arroyo didn't brush off the potential significance of the rough week, which dropped the team's record to 5-8.
"You say it all the time -- it's a long season," Arroyo said. "But, obviously the mentality of the front office here isn't going to be thinking of a 162-game schedule if we get behind the 8-ball too much. We've got to turn things around quick." Arroyo completed six innings and allowed five runs and five hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. If not for a five-run Pittsburgh fourth inning where nine men batted, Arroyo would have had a very fine afternoon. The right-hander retired his first nine batters faced and eight of his final 11. But there are no mulligans for the rough Arroyo found himself in during the fourth. "I'm reminded every year I put on this uni that this stuff isn't easy," Arroyo said. "You fight for everything you get in this game." Pittsburgh's first hit came on Delwyn Young's leadoff single to right field in the decisive fourth. Lastings Milledge knocked a one-out single, and trouble really started for Arroyo when Garrett Jones walked on four pitches to load the bases. Ryan Church lined an RBI single off of the end of leaping shortstop Orlando Cabrera's glove. With the bases still full, another run was forced in when Bobby Crosby was hit by an 0-2 pitch. "I'm trying to battle and put a ball in the air somewhere," Crosby said. "I'll take one in the ribs for an RBI with an 0-2 count. I wasn't too upset." Jason Jaramillo followed with a three-run double to left field that the not-so-fleet-footed Jonny Gomes couldn't catch up to and cut off. The ball went past Gomes and to the wall. That made it a 5-0 game. "The two big plays in my mind was hitting Crosby and that ball sneaking over Orlando's glove," Arroyo said. "If neither one of those happen, I feel like I've got a chance to get out of the inning with them, at the most, having two runs. Give somebody five that early in the game and it's tough to come back from." As a batter, Arroyo fouled a ball off of his left ankle in the top of the third inning and was clearly pained. He said it had no effect on his pitching. "I had good command and good stuff," Arroyo said. "I didn't have much velocity on my heater but I was throwing where I wanted to and setting guys up the way I wanted to." Save for Jay Bruce's first two home runs of the season, it wasn't a bountiful day for the Cincinnati lineup. Pirates starter Paul Maholm pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up two earned runs and four hits with one walk and five strikeouts. The Reds did not score until the fifth inning, when Bruce led off with a first-pitch home run to right field. In the seventh, Gomes reached on an infield hit and scored from first base on Paul Janish's blooped two-out double near the left-field line. Bruce's other long ball came in the ninth against closer Octavio Dotel, who still struck out the side for the save. After 12 straight days with games, the Reds will have a chance to collect themselves with an off-day on Monday before opening a three-game series vs. the Dodgers. "We just have to keep fighting," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "That's the only thing you can do. Keep fighting and hopefully we'll get some breaks. We hit the ball good all day today. They made some outstanding defensive plays out there that saved Maholm. That's OK. We'll be back next month and see them next month."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.