Harang chalks loss up to 'bad luck'
Starter struggles as Reds fall to Dodgers, evening series
CINCINNATI -- The smattering of boos directed at Aaron Harang on Wednesday made it clear he has little currency left with impatient Reds fans.In a performance that was several constellations away from stellar during a 14-6 Reds loss to the Dodgers, Harang lasted only 5 2/3 innings and threw 116 pitches, 70 for strikes. He allowed seven runs (six earned) with 10 hits, two walks and two strikeouts. "Tonight, he got behind. There were a lot of deep counts -- a lot of 2-0, 3-2, 3-1. It wasn't very pretty," said Reds manager Dusty Baker, whose club has lost six of its last seven games. Harang was handed a 3-1 lead following the first inning and gave up two runs in the top of the second. After the Reds made it a 4-4 game in the third, Los Angeles scored once in the fifth and four more in the sixth to pull away for good. In four starts for the Reds this season, Harang is 0-3 with an 8.31 ERA. His first start on Opening Day was borderline and he lasted only five innings. His second start was a solid seven innings for a no-decision, but his last two have been dreadful, with a combined 15 runs over just 9 2/3 innings. "It's bad luck. That's how you look at it," Harang said. "This game is about luck. It's just a bad spell right now. I just have to keep hanging in there and things will change hopefully." Luck has been on an extended sabbatical in this case. Dating back to last season, Harang has lost 13 of his last 14 decisions, and his record is 12-34 over his last two-plus seasons. "It's been a while. Put it that way," Harang said of the last time he had any good luck. Harang went into a first-inning deficit on Manny Ramirez's RBI single, but his lineup answered nicely with three runs in the bottom of the first. Joey Votto slugged a two-run home run to right-center field against Hiroki Kuroda (2-0) for his second long ball in two nights. Two batters later, Scott Rolen added a solo homer to left field for a 3-1 Reds lead. In the top of the second inning, Harang gave up Rafael Furcal's two-run double to left field. Andre Ethier led off the Dodgers' third inning with a homer to right field. "It was a tough [strike] zone, but falling behind early definitely isn't a good thing," Harang said. "I had to throw pitches that were catching a little more of the plate than I wanted to. I was throwing some pitches that were jamming those guys, and I went back and looked at them and they ran off the plate. It was just a rough night all around." In the fourth as Harang went to bat, he was given some boos for the first time on the night by the 12,203 fans at Great American Ball Park. He lined a two-out bases-loaded RBI single to right field that was originally ruled as a catch for Ethier by first-base umpire Tim McClelland. But Ethier had clearly trapped the ball, and after an argument by Baker, the four umpires convened and reversed the call. The hit tied the game at 4, but the Reds left the bases loaded when Chris Dickerson struck out. Harang could not keep the game locked up. With his third hit of the game, Ramirez hit a bloop RBI single to right field in the fifth inning. The Dodgers chased Harang during a four-run top of the sixth where nine batted against three Reds pitchers. Once again, he was met with boos as he left the field. The bullpen, which has been overtaxed as a byproduct of the recent short outings by the starters, gave up seven runs during the long night. With Harang's recent struggles, would the Reds consider taking the righty -- who is making $12.5 million this season and is in the final guaranteed season of his four-year contract -- out of the rotation? "I don't know. You're asking me questions -- I just got beat to death," Baker said. "I haven't had time to think about it." Cincinnati could also opt to skip his next turn in the rotation since the Reds have an off-day in five days on Monday.
Matt Maloney is 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA for Triple-A Louisville after he pitched on Wednesday. But he also exited his start after five innings because of a blister on his throwing hand.In 49 1/3 innings over nine games from the Reds' rotation since April 12, 44 earned runs have scored for an 8.08 ERA. The last seven-inning start -- and last two quality starts -- from the winless rotation have come from Mike Leake. The rookie will start on Thursday as the Reds try to take two of three in the series. "We certainly have to get our starting pitching together, big-time," Baker said.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.