PHILADELPHIA -- Citizens Bank Park has proven to be a den of despair for the Reds in recent seasons, as tough as any of the hearty Philadelphia sports fans that fill it.
A 12-5 Reds loss to the Phillies only underscored the frustration. They got to frequent slayer Roy Halladay early and often -- with five runs and 10 hits over his seven innings -- and it wasn't even close to being enough as Reds pitchers set a new season high in runs allowed.
"We hadn't touched Halladay up like that ever," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Reds starter Mike Leake, coming off his best outing with a four-hit complete game against the Mets, didn't have close to the same stuff for the Phillies. Given leads of 2-0 and 5-3, Leake could not make them stick as he gave up a career-high tying seven runs and 10 hits over 4 1/3 innings with one intentional walk and four strikeouts.
"They hit me well today," Leake said.
The Reds were 1-7 last season against the Phillies, including six straight losses, and haven't won a season series vs. them since 2003. At Citizens Bank Park, the record is just as bleak -- 4-18 since 2006 and 9-21 overall -- and includes a 19-inning loss in 2011 with current Reds infielder and former Phillie Wilson Valdez pitching against them, and Halladay's National League Division Series no-hitter in 2010.
"It seems like they play us pretty tough here," said Reds center fielder Chris Heisey, who had a 3-for-4 game. "We score some runs and they come right back. That's a momentum shift."
The two teams are moving in opposite directions in the big picture. The NL Central leaders, the Reds are 74-49 and have the best second-half record in baseball (27-11). The Phillies are enduring a 57-65 campaign and entered the day 19 games out of first place in the NL East. None of that mattered on Monday, at least one game into the 2012 season series.
Cincinnati had a promising start against Halladay, as it began the game with three straight singles and a Jay Bruce RBI double to right field. The Reds lost a shot at a likely second run on the play when Heisey stopped between third base and home before he was thrown out in a rundown as Brandon Phillips stood on third base.
First Heisey got a slow jump from second base, because he thought Bruce's drive might be caught and wanted to tag up. Then there was a mixup between Heisey and third-base coach Mark Berry, who was waving him home and holding Phillips.
"Mark had sent me and as I was going by him, he was trying to communicate with Brandon. I heard him say 'Right here, right here, right here,'" Heisey explained. "It was just miscommunication. At that point of the game, it could have been big for us. It's my fault. Hopefully next time, I will get a better read and score on that ball."
Philadelphia answered with Ryan Howard's two-out RBI double in the first, and then moved ahead on a two-out solo homer by Howard to right field in the third and a long two-out solo homer to left-center field by Erik Kratz in the fourth.
"I think we weren't swinging at his pitches," Kratz said of Leake. "I think he was throwing some good pitches that were corner to corner off and trying to get us to chase. We waited around, and any time you wait around on anybody, it doesn't matter who it is, then you get your pitch and not miss it."
Halladay who took a 2.56 lifetime ERA over six starts against Cincinnati into the game -- was roughed up again in the Reds' fifth as Devin Mesoraco scored on Heisey's two-out RBI double down the left-field line. Phillips followed with an infield single and Bruce added more pressure with a single. Bruce found himself the victim of a Halladay pickoff move to first base and caught in a rundown. Phillips was able to scamper home for a two-run Reds lead.
The Phillies poured it on in the fifth and finished Leake as nine batted in a four-run inning. Chase Utley hit a RBI double with one out, and after Howard was intentionally walked, John Mayberry Jr. lined a RBI single to left field before Domonic Brown hit a tiebreaking two-run double to right field.
"He couldn't get the ball down," Baker said. "Most of them were up. At this ballpark, it's a ticket for a disaster. The ball flies out of this ballpark. It was just a bad night for us and those were the most runs we've ever scored off Halladay."
It wasn't a good night for the bullpen, either. Three more runs came in during the sixth against Sam LeCure and Jose Arredondo, including Mayberry's two-run homer inside the left-field foul pole. Logan Ondrusek gave up two runs over two innings.
Baker wasn't interested in hearing about the Reds' lack of success in Philadelphia.
"If you keep thinking about it, you'll never get past it," Baker said.