CINCINNATI -- As starter Homer Bailey put together his best pitching effort of the season on Monday night, he had the misfortune of opposing the equivalent of Reds hitters' kryptonite in Cole Hamels.
When it was said and done after a 3-2 Reds loss to the Phillies -- Cincinnati's Major League leading 29th defeat by a one-run margin -- Bailey was left to lament what was literally his one bad pitch of the evening.It was a first-pitch curveball to Shane Victorino that was crushed for the game-deciding two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning. The Reds' four-game winning streak was over. "Homer threw great," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It was as sharp as I've seen him, from the very first pitch until the end, other than that one pitch to Victorino. When you're playing against a team that has the pitching that they have and are accustomed to playing low-scoring, close games like that, one pitch could be the difference." Bailey gave up his three runs and six hits over eight innings with zero walks and a season-high nine strikeouts. Wilson Valdez opened the top of the eighth of a 1-1 game with a single to center field. After pinch-hitter Michael Martinez's failed sacrifice attempt resulted in a popout, Victorino promptly picked him up. It was on the same type of curveball that Bailey got Victorino looked at strike three to end the fifth inning. Only this time, it hung up a little more over the plate. Victorino easily cleared the right-field fence. "I thought he was going to be looking for fastballs in," Bailey said. "We had been going in on him all night. I kind of wanted to get ahead with a curveball. I guess great minds think alike -- just that he hit it out, right?" "I definitely wasn't thinking curveball," Victorino countered. "He struck me out on that curveball in the at-bat before. I was able to recognize and put a good swing on it. ... Seeing it definitely helped. But I would have liked to do something differently in the at-bat before. I didn't want to strike out. All night he pitched well. He kept guys off-balance." It was 18 up, 18 down through the first three perfect innings exchanged by Bailey and Hamels, who came into the night 8-0 with a 1.23 ERA in nine career starts vs. the Reds, including the postseason. Bailey had four strikeouts over those first three innings, and needed just 30 pitches to do it. He threw only 100 pitches total. But even in his first game from a disabled list stint with shoulder inflammation, Hamels was his match. "When the pace of the game is going quick, it always seems like you're back out there," Bailey said. "There's never long pause, where you kind of have to re-start." With two outs in the Philadelphia fourth, Chase Utley was the first batter to reach safely. It came on a ground ball to the right side that Brandon Phillips was unable to glove cleanly, but it was ruled a single. In the bottom of the fourth, Phillips led off with a drive to the wall in right-center field. Hunter Pence slipped and fell on the warning track as the ball fell in for a triple. Joey Votto's one-out grounder to second base scored Phillips to give Cincinnati a 1-0 lead. After Carlos Ruiz's lined single to right field put Phillies on the corners in the fifth, Valdez lined a ball into left field. Dave Sappelt ran in but missed on an ill-fated diving attempt as the ball went past him. John Mayberry Jr. scored on the double, but Bailey struck out Hamels and Victorino to escape more damage. Hamels retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced, but stopped for the night after 76 pitches over six innings with only two hits allowed. Ryan Hanigan started a one-out rally in the Reds' eighth against Michael Stutes with a single to center field and went to third base on Phillips' two-out liner off third baseman Placido Polanco's glove for a single. Sappelt beat out a grounder to Polanco for a single with the errant throw in the dirt allowing Phillips to slide safely into third. Votto grounded out to second base to end the inning. In the ninth inning against Ryan Madson, Drew Stubbs represented the tying run on second base, but Edgar Renteria popped out to end the game. The Reds fell back to a .500 record at 67-67, and three full games behind the idle second-place Cardinals. "That was a tough one right there. We had action on at least tying and possibly winning that game," Baker said. Dealing with Hamels was only the start of a tough work week for the Reds. In the next three games of the four-game series, they get Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Vance Worley. None of the Philadelphia fearsome foursome that the Reds face this week has worse than a 2.71 ERA.