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07/13/08 6:39 PM ET

Reds suffer tough loss in series finale

Hairston endures hamstring strain; Sabathia proves too much

MILWAUKEE -- A 3-2 walk-off loss to the Brewers in the ninth inning on Sunday wasn't even the worst part of the Reds' afternoon. They had already been dealt a potentially big bummer before heading off for their three-day All-Star break.

Jerry Hairston Jr. has a strained right hamstring. He is scheduled to be reexamined on Monday and undergo an MRI.

Hairston was trying to leg out a bunt towards the left side and grabbed his leg just before he reached first base. He crumpled to the ground a few steps after he touched the bag. After a few moments down, manager Dusty Baker and Joey Votto helped Hairston off the field and had to carry him down the dugout steps.

No doubt, many of his teammates will have their fingers crossed for happy results from that MRI.

"I hope it's not too bad," Baker said.

Hairston, also trying to think positive thoughts, believed it could have been a leg cramp that felled him.

"I'm hoping [that's] all that is," Hairston said. "I think I tweaked it a little bit. I was more scared than anything. My hamstring just locked up on me really bad. Maybe I'm not drinking enough water. I'm hoping that will be it. We'll know for sure after tomorrow."

Not many would have predicted before the season that Hairston would be the indispensable catalyst the Reds have come to rely on. He was a .253 career hitter entering this season, and he battled back from injuries while batting .189 last year. The 32-year-old started this season in Triple-A after being a late non-roster invite to the Reds for Spring Training.

Fast forward to midsummer, and Hairston has delivered production that will be sorely missed. He is batting .351, including .365 (23-for-63) over his last 16 games, and has a .349 on-base percentage with 15 stolen bases. On Saturday, he was 4-for-4 with three runs scored, reaching base in all five of his plate appearances.

When Hairston is the leadoff batter, Cincinnati is 20-11 this season. When he's the starting shortstop, the Reds are 17-13. When he's in the outfield, they're 10-3 (he started in right field on Sunday). When he was out for just over two weeks last month with a fractured left thumb, the team went 5-9.

The day started badly when Hairston was hit on his right arm trying to bunt the first pitch of the game from Brewers starter CC Sabathia. After being looked at by the trainer, he stayed in the game at significantly less than 100 percent.

"He couldn't swing," Baker said. "That's why he was bunting that second time."

"The ball hit me pretty square on the forearm," Hairston said. "It wasn't a very good feeling. Tough day all around."

If Hairston is placed on the disabled list, Jolbert Cabrera (dislocated index finger) would likely come off the DL to replace him.

After Hairston went down in the third, pinch-runner Jay Bruce later scored on Adam Dunn's sacrifice fly and gave Homer Bailey a 2-0 lead to work with. Bailey, who was called up to replace the injured Aaron Harang, had perhaps his best showing of the season.

Bailey gave up two earned runs and five hits over 5 2/3 innings. Most impressive was that he did not walk a batter and struck out four. His biggest glitch came in the Brewers' third when Sabathia helped himself by hitting an 0-2 pitch for a solo home run inside the right-field foul pole.

"No walks, but still I was having trouble with my slider," said Bailey, who is winless in both Triple-A and the Majors since April 30. "It's something that can be corrected. I had decent results, but I've told you guys about the bad luck. Plus the guy on the other team throwing, he's OK."

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth and Bailey's runner, J.J. Hardy, on first, Bill Bray didn't get it done. Prince Fielder drew a walk before Gabe Kapler lined a game-tying RBI double to left-center field.

Sabathia (2-0) only got stronger and finished with a complete game. The lefty allowed two earned runs and eight hits with one walk and nine strikeouts.

Even before the Reds set one solitary spike onto the Miller Park playing field on Sunday, this six-game road trip was a success. On what was viewed as the most pivotal trip of the season, the worst they could do was finish the trip 3-3. Yet they weren't looking to settle.

But by game's end, settling was what they were stuck with. Reds reliever David Weathers (2-5), in his third straight game, was in his second inning of work when Bill Hall led off the ninth with a single to right-center field. Mike Cameron followed with a bunt hit that had Weathers and catcher David Ross converging. After an awkward moment, Weathers made an errant throw to first base that allowed Hall to advance to third base. An intentional walk to Jason Kendall loaded the bases with no outs.

Closer Francisco Cordero took over the unenviable jam. With the infield and outfield playing in, pinch-hitter Craig Counsell hit a first-pitch sacrifice fly to right field that scored Hall with the walk-off run.

Ballgame. The Reds headed into the break with a 46-50 record.

"We played good right before this break here," Baker said. "We'll take a rest and come back with our minds right and ready to pick it back up on Thursday."

No doubt the Reds are hoping Hairston will be available to pick it back up with them.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.