CINCINNATI -- By taking a 6-3 loss to the Brewers on Friday night while giving up five home runs, the Reds were mathematically eliminated from postseason play.

This was long expected, considering the 74-77 Reds have trailed by wide margins in both the National League Central and Wild Card races. But this day of reckoning comes rather early -- with 11 games left in the season. It was a steep drop from the heights reached last season, when Cincinnati won 91 games to claim the NL Central title and end a 15-year playoff drought.

"It is what it is," Reds manager Dusty Baker said after Friday's game. "You've still got to play. You've got games on the schedule. You play them to win. It's just disheartening to see all those balls go over the fence like that."

Elimination from the division race had already come on Tuesday. The Wild Card-leading Braves lost to the Mets on Friday, but the Reds' defeat moved that elimination number from one to zero.

The Reds spent the first 22 days of the season in first place and 28 overall. They fell out of first place for good on May 19 following the second loss in the midst of a six-game losing streak and eight losses in nine games. They were never better than a third-place team after May 24, but they remained in the hunt well into the summer.

When the Reds opened the second half with a win over the then first-place Cardinals, they were only three games away from the top spot. But Milwaukee caught fire in late July, winning a stretch of 23 out of 26 games and finished August with a 21-7 record. That essentially dashed all hope of the Reds getting back into the race. The Brewers' win put them 14 games ahead of the third-place Reds.

Maloney to start in place of Cueto on Monday

CINCINNATI -- With Johnny Cueto unable to make his next start on Monday for the Reds, left-hander Matt Maloney will step in to face the Astros.

"They told me yesterday," Maloney said on Friday. "I'm happy I'm getting an opportunity to start. I was feeling good about how I was throwing in [Triple-A] Louisville. I was throwing the ball well. Hopefully I can carry it over to here. I'm real excited about getting the opportunity again."

The Reds have yet to make an official announcement about Monday's starter.

In seven games, including one start for the Reds this season, Maloney is 0-2 with a 6.88 ERA over 17 innings. He was on the 60-day disabled list from May 26-Aug. 16 because of a broken rib.

Maloney's only outing since his Sept. 1 recall from Louisville was a two-inning relief appearance at Colorado on Saturday. He gave up two runs -- one earned -- on three hits and took the loss.

In 14 games, including 13 starts for Louisville, Maloney was 7-1 with a 2.99 ERA. The 27-year-old is the Bats' all-time leader in wins (39), starts (86) strikeouts (435) and innings (516 1/3). He made the big league club out of Spring Training as a long reliever.

"I've always felt like I've been a good starter," Maloney said. "I always felt like I have thrown the ball well. But you have to do whatever it takes to stay in the big leagues, and my opportunity at the time was to be in the bullpen. To get a chance to start one game, or however many it is, I'm really happy."

Hernandez behind the plate for Arroyo's start

CINCINNATI -- For the first time this season on Friday -- and only the seventh time in three seasons -- Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez was behind the plate for a Bronson Arroyo start.

Arroyo almost exclusively works with Ryan Hanigan as his batterymate. But Hanigan was not available against the Brewers. Hernandez pinch-hit for Hanigan in the seventh inning on Thursday vs. the Cubs.

"That's why we took him out last night -- he had some back spasms," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Hanigan, who is listed as day to day.

Worth noting

Center fielder Drew Stubbs was out of the starting lineup Friday as hot-hitting Chris Heisey started in his place. Stubbs had three hits on Thursday, but also two strikeouts. His 193 strikeouts this season leads the Major Leagues and is 10th all-time in the Majors for a single season. Mark Reynolds holds the record with 223 strikeouts in 2009. Adam Dunn holds the Reds record with 195, set in 2004.