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08/30/09 6:33 PM ET

Reds fall in 12th, drop series to Dodgers

Arroyo solid for 7 1/3 innings; McDonald rips first homer

CINCINNATI -- With a day-night doubleheader looming for the Reds on Monday, manager Dusty Baker wanted to protect his bullpen like a lioness and her cubs or a college freshman and the last slice of pizza.

Instead, the Reds and Dodgers played bonus baseball on Sunday. Some bonus it turned out to be -- Cincinnati was on the wrong end of a 3-2 defeat in 12 innings while using four relievers.

That was the fifth extra-inning game the Reds have played in their past 12.

"It jumbles our pitching up a lot," Baker said. "The last thing we needed was 12 innings. We just got back to almost whole. We have to do something and probably get a pitcher here before one of the games tomorrow."

It was a 2-2 game when Reds reliever Francisco Cordero (2-4) began the 12th by walking Manny Ramirez. Cordero allowed Juan Castro's double to left field with one out. Andre Ethier was intentionally walked before Matt Kemp hit a drive that was caught at the warning track, enabling Ramirez to score the go-ahead run.

After the Reds won a season-high five in a row, they dropped the past two to the Dodgers to lose the three-game series.

It was an afternoon in which the lineup accomplished very little. Of the Reds' 46 plate appearances, 20 resulted in strikeouts. It was their highest total since they struck out 21 times on May 8, 2001, at Arizona.

Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw had 11 strikeouts through his seven innings, including 10 through the first five innings. Still, the Reds broke out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a two-run home run to left field by Darnell McDonald. It was the first big league homer of McDonald's career.

"He was dealing," Baker said of Kershaw. "We didn't have much of a chance except for Darnell McDonald's home run."

Unfortunately for Reds starter Bronson Arroyo, quality starts and victories are mixing like oil and water lately. Arroyo missed out on a win again despite working 7 1/3 innings with two earned runs and six hits allowed. He gave up two walks and struck out three.

In nine second-half starts, Arroyo is 2-4 with a 2.53 ERA. He is riding a streak of seven quality starts but has just one win to show for it.

"It's been a tough stretch since the All-Star break for me," Arroyo said. "I went out there 10-11 times and have thrown the ball pretty good. It's the way it goes. It's a battle, especially against good teams. We're lucky to get two early from Darnell's home run, and I couldn't lock it down."

Los Angeles was held hitless by Arroyo until Kemp led off the fifth inning with a home run to left-center field. Casey Blake followed with a single. With two outs, shortstop Paul Janish knocked down a tough Orlando Hudson grounder that went for an infield single. The next batter, Kershaw, hit a hard single that went off of Janish's glove and into center field for the tying RBI.

"He's been playing a great shortstop," Baker said. "That ball took two weird hops right at the end, both of them. It's too bad because Bronson pitched a heck of a ballgame. He was throwing the ball great."

"I need to get the pitcher out there with a strikeout and give myself a chance to win," Arroyo said. "As long as I'm throwing the ball the way I am, you come every day and feel like your preparation is right. You're glad about the way the ball is coming out of your hand. I can do nothing but eat innings and hope it turns out to be wins at some point."

Other than McDonald's homer, the Reds' other seven hits were all singles. All they needed was one more to extend the game. Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton walked two in the bottom of the 12th to put the tying run on second base. But Broxton also struck out the side, including Drew Stubbs to end it.

After Arroyo left the game in a double switch with two outs in the eighth, Arthur Rhodes faced one batter and Nick Masset worked 1 1/3 innings. Jared Burton followed with two innings and Cordero completed one inning.

The weary Reds will have no choice but to grind out two vs. the Pirates on Monday.

"We've had a stretch of pretty long games," said first baseman Joey Votto, who struck out four times on Sunday. "I don't think tomorrow's day-night doubleheader was on the back of anybody's mind. I think we'll be well aware of it tomorrow."

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