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Red with frustration: Reds 6 Phillies 2

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The Phillies dropped their second straight to a Cincinnati team that is actually not crappy.

Philadelphia Phillies v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

For the second straight night, it was the Cincinnati Reds, not the Philadelphia Phillies, who looked like the team that was inhabiting first place in their division.

The Phils couldn’t muster much offense against the rejuvenated Matt Harvey, new addition Asdrubal Cabrera suffered through an 0-for-4 night in his debut with the Phillies, and the bullpen leaked some serious oil in the later innings as the Phils fell 6-2 to the Reds.

The offense struggled tonight, two nights after tying a club record with seven home runs in the series opener, failing to get anything going against Harvey and a collection of Cincinnati relievers. They tallied just four hits and two walks, with a Rhys Hoskins two-run shot, his 21st of the season, giving the Phillies a brief 2-1 lead in the 4th inning.

The team had some chances late, but Hoskins hit into an inning-ending double play with runners on 1st and 2nd and one out in the 8th, squelching one of the evening’s few rallies. A Maikel Franco lead-off double was wasted in the 5th after starter Vince Velasquez failed to get down a sacrifice bunt. A grounder by Knapp with the infield in one batter later probably would have given the Phils a 3-2 lead at the time.

For the second straight night, the Phils, 58-46, were simply outplayed by a Reds team that has a 47-58 record but is much better than that record would indicate.

The heart of the lineup is fearsome, with Jose Peraza, Scooter Gennett, Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez all mashing the ball at will. Tucker Burnhart, Adam Duvall and Billy Hamilton have been major thorns in the side this weekend. Votto went 3-for-4 with 2 RBI and Hamilton and Peraza each had two hits in tonight’s game.

No contender will look forward to seeing the Reds on their schedule over the season’s final two months.

Asdrubal Cabrera got his first start at shortstop for the Phillies after his trade from the Mets yesterday and failed to get a knock, striking out against his old Mets teammate Harvey in the first inning. Harvey was electric, by the way, with a fastball in the high 90s that he used to blow Phils hitters away. He’ll likely be dealt by the Reds before Tuesday’s Trade Deadline.

Velasquez, meanwhile, had a very Vince Velasquez-ish outing, going five innings and giving up five walks and six hits but allowed just two runs with four strikeouts. He wiggled out of big innings on a night when he didn’t have his best stuff, a sign of his growing maturity. Tommy Hunter and Austin Davis each gave up two runs after Velasquez’ departure.

The loss was a big missed opportunity, as the Phils failed to take advantage of the stumbling Atlanta Braves, who lost for a third straight night to the Los Angeles Dodgers at home, and a Washington Nationals loss to the Miami Marlins in extra innings. The Phillies’ lead in the NL East remains 2 12 games over the Braves, which is the largest division lead in the National League. They also maintain their six-game lead over Washington.

Of course, the bright side is that they didn’t lose any ground, and lest we wring our hands and cry havoc, this gentle reminder.

The Phillies can earn a split of the series tomorrow afternoon, with Zach Eflin on the hill. The Reds send Luis Castillo, the 25-year-old with a big arm and a 5.30 ERA/4.65 FIP so far this season.