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CIN@BAL: Phillips drives a solo homer to left-center

BALTIMORE -- Games like Sunday's are what have kept the Reds perpetually stuck in neutral this season.

While Homer Bailey bore some of the responsibility for the Reds' 7-5 loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards, he certainly wasn't given much backup.

The lineup didn't come through in the clutch, repeatedly, going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranding 14 runners on base. The defense lost a routine popup in the sun, leading to four runs in the fourth inning. And the bullpen didn't hold up its end, as two insurance runs made the hole deeper.

"I'm not going to say it's a tough loss. It's a sad loss, because I feel like we're better than that," said Brandon Phillips, who was 2-for-4 with a home run. "We have the players on our team that can go out there and win. Right now, it's just not our time. I hope that we pick it up and learn from the mistakes and come through when we need to come through."

In dropping two of three to Baltimore, the fourth-place Reds are one game over .500 at 40-39, and trail the first-place Brewers by four games in the National League Central. Cincinnati has won only one of its last five series, and has dropped its last three to American League East clubs.

"We have to keep treading water until you start swimming," manager Dusty Baker said. "It's not through lack of effort. We're in every ballgame. We're so close to taking off. You feel it. You see it. We're one hit away, one play away or one something away from winning almost every game."

In his return from the disabled list -- where he had been since May 28 because of a strain in his right shoulder -- Bailey gave up five runs and a season-high nine hits over five innings, with two walks and five strikeouts.

Bailey retired the first seven batters of the game until giving up a one-out single to Blake Davis. He then proceeded to walk No. 9 hitter Craig Tatum. With two outs, Nick Markakis lined an RBI single to right field, with Tatum making the third out trying for third base.

The fourth inning was disastrous for Bailey. It began with a routine popup from Adam Jones that first baseman Joey Votto lost in the sun. Bailey made a desperation dive attempt, but the ball landed safely for a single between three players.

"That popup opened the gates for things," Baker said.

Vladimir Guerrero followed with a single, and Derrek Lee attacked a first-pitch fastball inside for a three-run home run into the left-field seats. Two batters later, Mark Reynolds made it a 5-0 game with a homer to left field on a 1-2 pitch.

"After that [missed popup] happened, I left the ball a little bit up to Guerrero," Bailey said. "The pitch I threw Lee was exactly where I wanted it to go. He either guessed right or it was what he was looking for. After the ball leaves my hand, I only have so much control. I threw it where I wanted it to go, and [Lee] hit it out."

Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, who improved to 3-9, kept dodging damage in the early innings. The Reds had runners on first and second with less than two outs in the first inning and came up empty.

Phillips got the Reds on the scoreboard in the fifth with his one-out solo homer to left field. It was Phillips' first home run since May 14. In the sixth, the Reds' sent nine to the plate and did all of the damage with two outs, but could have come away with more.

After Miguel Cairo's one-out double, Chris Heisey was the lone hitter to drive someone in with his two-out single into center field. Guthrie, lefty Clay Rapada and righty Jim Johnson then combined to walk four straight batters, with Johnson's bases-loaded walks to Jonny Gomes and Fred Lewis forcing in two runs.

Johnson had thrown only two of 11 pitches for strikes when the inning's ninth batter, Drew Stubbs, bounced a 1-0 pitch to the shortstop for an inning-ending force play at second base.

"We had plenty of action. From the opening inning, we couldn't get the one or two big hits," Baker said. "And Markakis got two two-out hits. That was big, and kind of the ballgame in a nutshell."

Baltimore added insurance runs against the Reds bullpen, including Markakis' second two-out RBI single off Jose Arredondo. There were two outs in the seventh when Luke Scott took Aroldis Chapman's 2-1 pitch deep to center field for a solo homer.

"Any series win is big, no matter who it is against, but to do it against a team like this with the lineup they have and the power they are capable of doing, it's definitely big," Markakis said.

Sunday's game was more stalled momentum. A five-homer game for a 10-5 win Saturday could have been a kick-start, but the follow-up game was a kick in the pants. The Reds have registered back-to-back wins on only three occasions this month.

Asked if might be time to seek reinforcements from Triple-A to spark the club, Baker wouldn't have it.

"I'm not going to answer that," he said. "It seems like everybody knows what we need. Let them keep saying it." Comments