CINCINNATI -- In the fifth inning Thursday afternoon, the Mets went round and round. A single; a walk; a single; a single. They toured the infield, one base at a time, a slow, miserable carousel.
Of course, Jason Bay sped up the process, hitting a three-run double that, at the time, seemed to put the game out of reach. And, of course, a Reds rally came up just short, in part because of a wild pitch.
New York won, 10-9, completing a four-game sweep in Cincinnati for the first time in franchise history. The Reds are now five games under .500 for the first time since 2009.
"We stink right now as a team," Miguel Cairo said. "We don't do the little things to win games. It's not like everything is going wrong. You've got to make it happen. And you've got to go out there and make it happen. You're not going on the field and [thinking], 'Oh, everything is going to go wrong.' That's not the mentality we got to have. The attitude has to be, 'Tomorrow is another day, and we're going to expect to win.' Right now, I don't think we have that attitude."
The Reds have provided a painful brand of baseball this week: 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position Monday, three errors Tuesday, an 8-2 blowout Wednesday.
And now? One of the worst efforts in starter Homer Bailey's career. Lasting just four-plus innings, the right-hander was knocked around for 12 hits and a career-high nine earned runs. Round and round.
He gave up one in the first -- a two-out RBI single by Daniel Murphy. The Mets added four more in the fourth -- a three-run double by Lucas Duda, a one-run single by Josh Thole. Round and round. Bailey knew something needed to be corrected; he just couldn't tell what.
"When they're pretty much running around the bases the whole ... time, you know something's not right," he said.
Another blow came in the fifth. Angel Pagan knocked an RBI single to right. Jason Bay followed with a three-run double. Round and round. Bailey's day was done, greeted with a chorus of boos as he walked off the mound with Cincinnati trailing, 9-3.
The Reds mounted a comeback, beginning in the sixth. Ramon Hernandez doubled to left field, scoring Jay Bruce. Later, Cairo pulled a high fastball into the left-field seats for a three-run home run.
Down, 9-7, in the seventh, Chris Heisey and Bruce smacked consecutive doubles, cutting New York's lead to just one.
But the Mets got an insurance run in one of the easiest ways possible in the top of the ninth. With two outs and the bases loaded, reliever Logan Ondrusek lost control of a pitch, letting it skip to the backstop as Pagan jogged home.
That was the difference. Joey Votto led off the bottom of the ninth with a solo blast to center to bring the deficit back to one run, but the rest of the Reds went quietly. Cincinnati had not been swept in a four-game series at Great American Ball Park since 2008.
"Our guys, they did battle; they battled, big time," manager Dusty Baker said. "It's disheartening to have a four-game sweep in your house."
Four losses in a row. An 8-15 record in July. Six and a half games out of first place in the National League Central -- the largest deficit of the season.
"We've still got a pretty good chance to make a good run for it. No one wants to take charge, and it looks like we don't either," Cairo said.
Cairo later admitted his postgame speech to the media was calculated. He wanted his teammates to hear him, wanted them to realize just how frustrating this run has been for the 16-year veteran.
"We've got to freaking go out there and play baseball the way we know how to play," he said.
For now, though, the losses just keep coming. A slow, miserable carousel. Round and round.
Tyler Jett is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.