By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MILWAUKEE - This one hurt more than any loss of the year.
The Reds fell to the Milwaukee Brewers 9-8 on Bill Hall's two-out run home run in the bottom of ninth off closer Danny Graves.
The home run came after Brandon Larson made a throwing error on a play that would have ended the game.
Brewers' Bill Hall reacts as he runs the bases after hitting a game-winning two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth.
"He didn't throw the ball," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "It's as simple as that."
It was the Reds' fifth error of the game.
Larson's error on Chad Moeller's groundball allowed Wes Helms to score to make it 8-7. Hall hit a 2-0 pitch from Graves out to left-center for the game-winner.
"I threw with three fingers," Larson said. "I didn't plant. It should have been game over."
Larson would not have been in the game if Juan Castro had been healthy.
"Castro's been on the training table since batting practice," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "His back locked up."
Castro ordinarily plays third for defensive reasons late in games. The Reds were already down a player because they didn't make a move to replace Austin Kearns on the roster.
Larson made two errors in the game. Defense, so improved all year, clearly cost the Reds this one.
"That's exactly it," Miley said. "We gave them too many outs. That's baseball."
The bullpen had pitched three scoreless innings before Graves gave up three runs in the ninth.
Jason LaRue's three-run homer in the sixth brought the Reds back from a 6-3 deficit.
They led 8-6 going to the ninth.
For the second straight night, the Reds took a 2-0 lead in the first. D'Angelo Jimenez led off the game with a double to left-center. Barry Larkin followed with a single. Ken Griffey Jr. got them both home with a double the opposite way to left-center.
Just like that, the bats stopped. Milwaukee left-hander Doug Davis retired the next nine in a row.
The Brewers got one run back in the second in Chad Moeller's second home run of the year. Moeller, by the way, would go on to become the first Brewer to hit for cycle since 1991.
The Brewers tied it with an unearned run in the third - the result of Larson's error.
Sean Casey broke Davis' string with a single in the fourth. Adam Dunn followed with a walk. Two outs later, LaRue walked to load the bases. No problem, the pitcher Cory Lidle was coming up.
But Davis walked Lidle on 3-2 pitch to force in a run and make it 3-2. It was the first RBI of Lidle's career.
With one out in the fifth, Junior Spivey hit his third home run of the year to tie it. Lidle retired the next batter, but the inning was far from over.
Lyle Overbay singled. Wes Helms followed with a slow roller that second baseman Jimenez fielded, but he tried to shovel it from his glove to first baseman Casey. The ball went past Casey and into the dugout. The runners ended up at second and third. Lidle walked Kevin Ginter to load the bases.
Moeller hit a fly ball to right. Pena got to it, but he mistimed his jump. The ball went off the wall for a three-run triple, and the Reds were down 6-3.
The Reds didn't stay down for long. In the sixth, Larson walked and Pena beat out an infield single.
LaRue followed with his first home run of the year - a line shot to left-center - to tie it at 6-all.
That was it for Ford. Victor Santos came in and walked pinch-hitter Jason Romano and Jimenez. Barry Larkin followed with a double to right to score Romano and make it 7-6.
Phil Norton replaced Lidle. He lasted one batter. He made a nice play on Scott Podsednik's popup bunt, catching it over-the-shoulder. The problem was, Casey was closing on the play too. He hit Norton like a linebacker hits a wide receiver. Norton got the worst of the collision and had to leave the game.
Reds' pitcher Phil Norton holds up the ball after colliding with first baseman Sean Casey, foreground, in the sixth inning. Norton caught a popup from the Brewers' Scott Podsednik before colliding with Casey. Norton left the game.
Norton suffered a quad bruise.
John Riedling came in and finished the inning. Ryan Wagner pitched the seventh. Todd Jones worked the eighth for his fourth straight scoreless outing.
The Reds scored a run in the ninth to make it 8-6. But they had the bases loaded with no out and only got one run out it.
"Today we just played well enough to lose," Casey said. "We made too many mistakes."
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