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NYY@CIN: Wood picks off Nunez in the fourth

CINCINNATI -- It's becoming a familiar, and often regrettable, refrain for Reds pitchers this season.

Take away the first inning and it was a nice performance.

During Monday's 5-3 Reds loss to the Yankees, left-hander Travis Wood gave up four first-inning runs and put his team in a 4-0 hole. With the way Ivan Nova was pitching and the general chill of Cincinnati's bats during this homestand, it was too deep of a hole to climb out.

"It was a situation where they jumped us early," said Reds manager Dusty Baker, whose pitchers have allowed 59 first-inning runs -- by far the most for the club over any other frame this season.

The Yankees pounced with five hits in the top of the first inning. Most of the hits were solid line drives, including a one-out RBI single into left field by Alex Rodriguez for the game's first run. Robinson Cano followed with a double to left field that scored Mark Teixeira.

A Russell Martin groundout to shortstop scored another run, and it became a four-run deficit on Andruw Jones' two-out single into left field that scored Cano.

"A lot of crafty lefties have had a lot of success against us," Rodriguez said. "Part of the reason is we expand a little bit and try to do a little bit too much. I thought for us, that's a prototypical first inning, an ideal first inning that we'll take every time."

Wood threw 34 pitches in the inning but largely settled down. Besides the four runs, he gave up eight hits over seven innings with one walk and six strikeouts. With two outs and a runner on first base in the second inning, Scott Rolen's diving stop at the third-base line on Teixeira's sharp grounder saved extra bases and likely a run. Wood gave up two one-out hits in the third, but got a double play to end the inning. He wound up retiring the last 11 batters he faced.

With a sellout crowd of 41,173 fans -- many representing for the Yankees -- there was a lot of energy inside Great American Ball Park from the start. Baker wondered if that might have affected Wood's early performance.

"I think he was a little bit pumped up, because he was trying to go low and away a number of times and the ball was about thigh-to-waist high," Baker said.

"I didn't feel it," Wood disagreed. "It is the Yankees coming in, so I tried to be as calm as I could like it was any other game. Maybe I was [pumped] and didn't know it. Fortunately, I was able to settle down and string together some good innings."

The Reds originally scheduled Wood to pitch on Tuesday, but he was moved up a night because Johnny Cueto came down with a stiff neck. Wood was informed of the news Sunday night.

"I had my normal rest, and I'm always ready to take the ball," Wood said. "I wouldn't say it affected me."

Either way, it was a pivotal start since Homer Bailey is due to return soon from the disabled list -- possibly as early as Sunday. Of the five starters, Wood has had the most difficulty of late, but he still has pitched at least six innings in eight of his past 10 starts.

Meanwhile, the Reds managed just four hits over eight innings against Nova -- with two coming in the first inning from Drew Stubbs and Brandon Phillips. Cincinnati's lone run off Nova crossed in the bottom of the first when Joey Votto's 4-6-3 double play scored Stubbs.

After Votto's double play, Nova retired 13 of 14 and 23 of his last 26.

"He was throwing everything over, so you had to go up there swinging," Phillips said. "You go up there trying to be patient sometimes, but then they get that nasty curveball, you don't want to be 0-2 or whatever. All I can say is he did his job."

The Reds have dropped three of four at home since their 5-2 West Coast trip, and they've scored only seven runs total and are batting .220 during the homestand.

"We're having a hard time getting a leadoff batter on base to get the pitcher in the stretch right away," Baker said. "Every inning, we're operating with one or two outs. We have to find a way to get that leadoff hitter on, then we can do something."

A pivotal insurance run came in the Yankees' eighth after Curtis Granderson drew a leadoff walk from reliever Jose Arredondo. Granderson stole second base, where the throw went through Paul Janish's glove for an error on the shortstop that put a runner on third base. An Arredondo wild pitch to Rodriguez scored Granderson.

The Reds rallied in the ninth against the Yankees' bullpen as Luis Ayala gave up a Phillips leadoff single and then lefty Boone Logan plunked Votto. Closer Mariano Rivera had to shut the door for his 18th save, but not before allowing both inherited runs to score. Rivera struck out pinch-hitter Edgar Renteria to end the game.

"We get that second wind, and we end up just coming and coming and we come back," Phillips said. "I wish it would have happened earlier in the game, but it just didn't go our way. ... Honestly, I'm glad we're playing them, just seeing where we stand against all the other Major League teams out there, and that's one of the best teams in the league." Comments