By Kevin Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer
OAKLAND, Calif. - For those that choose to do so, the trip will be remembered as the 72 hours when preseason expectations materialized.
The Reds bullpen was grim early in the game as Jose Acevedo was hit hard.
Catcher Javier Valentin consoles John Riedling after Reidling gave up a home run to Erubiel Durazo in the seventh inning.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/MICHAEL E. KEATING
Injuries mounted. The defense faltered. And the pitching collapsed. Where the Reds go from here - from three lopsided losses against the A's punctuated by a historically bad 17-8 defeat Wednesday at Network Associates Coliseum - may very well define their character.
"I don't foresee us having a problem getting over these three games," Reds manager Dave Miley said afterward. "The quicker we forget about them, the better off we are.
"I would say it's a good time for a day off."
The three-game sweep dissolved the Reds' lead in the National League Central and dropped them into a first-place tie with the Cardinals.
Cincinnati carried the label of baseball's surprise team into the Oakland series.
It had been a collective effort to get to 12 games over .500, and solid pitching was as responsible for that as a healthy and productive corps of position players.
But what took more than two months to assemble began unraveling from the first pitch of the series.
Right fielder Austin Kearns went on the disabled list Tuesday. Shortstop Barry Larkin suffered a lower abdominal strain and flew back to Cincinnati before Wednesday's game.
The defense committed three errors in the last two games.And pitching to contact took on a new meaning as Oakland scored 40 runs - its most in a three-game series in nearly four years - on 51 hits during the series.
"I haven't been punched like that in a long time," Reds center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. said.
The 17 runs Wednesday were the most allowed by the Reds since June 6, 2000. The 22 hits were the most for a Reds opponent since Sept. 12, 2002.
"We just ran into a buzz saw," Cincinnati first baseman Sean Casey said. "Everything we threw out there they were raking.
"We're just glad to get the heck out of here alive."
Wednesday's starting Reds pitcher, Jose Acevedo, allowed eight runs on 10 hits in three innings.
Lump that into the contributions from Cory Lidle on Monday and Jung Keun Bong on Tuesday and Reds starters were 0-3 with an 18.90 ERA against the A's.
None of the three starting pitchers made it past the fourth inning.
"It didn't matter what we threw up there, they were hitting it,"
Reds catcher Jason LaRue said. "They're a very disciplined team. They didn't swing at a lot of balls outside of the strike zone when we needed them to.
"I'm sure they'll cool off sooner or later, but I don't know when."The A's had an 11-0 lead by the fourth inning, and Oakland starting pitcher Rich Harden protected that shutout until the sixth inning.
The Reds scored five runs in the sixth, two on a double by third baseman Brandon Larson.
Amid the good came another injury scare.
LaRue was hit on the left hand by a pitch from Harden, fell to the ground but got up and took first base. He was replaced by backup Javier Valentin in the bottom of the sixth, and expects to play Friday.
Cincinnati scored three more runs in the seventh when Adam Dunn and Jacob Cruz homered to make it 11-8.
"It looked like we had a little bit of momentum," Miley said.Acevedo avoided the first-inning troubles like that experienced by Lidle and Bong in the opening two games of the series.
Oakland had outscored the Reds 7-1 in the first innings of the series.
Therefore a one run was minimal damage comparatively.
Acevedo allowed three consecutive singles to start the inning, and Oakland left fielder Billy McMillon scored from third when Jermaine Dye grounded into a double play.
Oakland would follow with 10 runs in the next three innings.
Among the highlights was a grand slam by A's catcher Damian Miller that made it 8-0 with one out in the third inning. Acevedo retired the next two batters to end the inning but did not return.
Oakland scored three more runs - only one of which was earned - in the fourth to take an 11-0 lead.
Its remaining six runs all came off Reds reliever John Riedling in the seventh. The right-hander allowed six runs on six hits.Griffey went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles during the game, and finished 4-for-12 in the series.
That means his pursuit of career home run No. 500 continues on to Cleveland where the Reds begin a three-game series against the Indians on Friday.
But first, a day off.
"We can regroup," Casey said. "This is the first series we've had like this this year.
"You're bound to have one of these during a season."
Williams sounds off on Gardener dealings
RB Hicks earns all-star honors in Europe
Browns set to cut Couch after grievance is resolved
What didn't go wrong?
If not Larkin, then who?
Rocket's victory totals continue to be on rise
Lopez works to be more reliable at SS
Daugherty: Tightrope walk gets tougher for Reds
Indians finally get past Marlins
San Diego spoils Garciaparra return
What goes up must boogie down
Student revels in flying friendly skies
Making the big leap
Drug cases cloud outlook for track team
U.S. soccer women to play extra game
Pistons have to regroup after Game 2
Daniels making pitch for NBA pick
Deveroes loses its NCAA approval
Sports today on TV, radio
Return to Reds front page...