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PHI@CIN: Janish turns two on Valdez in the eighth

CINCINNATI -- Facing the Phillies' rotation hasn't just been a momentum stopper for the Reds, it's been like slamming into a brick wall backed by a concrete wall backed by another wall made of steel.

With their 3-0 loss to Cliff Lee and the Phillies on Wednesday at Great American Ball Park, the Reds have been held scoreless for 19 straight innings. They scored two runs off Cole Hamels on Monday and came up empty against Roy Halladay on Tuesday.

"Their pitching staff, they're getting paid what our whole payroll is making," frustrated Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "They earn their money. They can pitch."

It's the second time the Reds have been fed back-to-back shutouts this season. It hasn't happened three times in a row since April 1989.

Lee finished August 5-0 with a 0.45 ERA in five starts. His scoreless streak on the road improved to 30 2/3 innings. And as he just missed completing a six-hit shutout, pitching 8 2/3 innings, the left-hander certainly didn't need much assistance.

But the Reds hurt themselves and helped their opposition on a few occasions. A botched double play led to a Phillies run in the first inning. In the fifth, two runners were thrown out at second base -- on the same play. Two leadoff walks of Shane Victorino by Reds starter Dontrelle Willis led to runs scoring.

"I've walked guys before and they haven't scored," Willis said. "You just have to make better pitches and kind of erase that and try not to let them put a crooked number on the board, which I didn't. It's just tough, because you're going against somebody that was pitching a lot better than you. Once I walk a guy or [give up] a base hit, I let it go and move on to the next guy."

Once again, Willis put himself into position for a victory, but he remained winless after 10 big league starts this season. It was the ninth time he allowed three runs or fewer.

Willis, 0-4 with a 4.10 ERA, gave up exactly three runs on five hits over 6 2/3 innings, with five walks and six strikeouts.

"Willis kept us off-balance," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He threw some changeups. We couldn't handle him. The game was a little bit harder than it looked. We were having a hard time scoring off him."

Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead in the first inning without notching a hit off of Willis, who walked his first two batters. With one out, the Reds could not turn a potential inning-ending double play on Ryan Howard. Howard grounded to first baseman Joey Votto, who threw to second. Paul Janish made a return throw to first base, where both Willis and Brandon Phillips were covering. Phillips caught the ball, but he wasn't on the bag as Shane Victorino scored.

"It was just a miscue on my part," Willis said. "I should have got over there and called off Brandon. We got there at the same time. It was a brain miscue."

Willis worked out of a bases-loaded one-out jam in the second inning and issued a pair of two-out walks in the third. He came out of both situations unscathed. Seven straight Phillies were retired until the sixth, when Hunter Pence led off by hitting a 2-1 pitch for a home run to right-center field.

A third Phillies run scored in the seventh, when Victorino had a leadoff walk and came home on Chase Utley's fielder's choice grounder to shortstop.

"When you've got that kind of pitching, every run you score and every home run is huge," Baker said of the Phillies.

Until the ninth inning, the Reds did not get a runner to third base against Lee. In the fourth, Dave Sappelt led off with an infield single that was erased in a double play as he was caught stealing while Votto struck out.

A bizarre double play wrecked the Reds in the fifth. After Ramon Hernandez grounded into a force play to shortstop, Utley overthrew to first base. Hernandez never stopped running, but catcher Carlos Ruiz backed up on the play and threw out Hernandez at second base.

"We're trying to make something happen," Baker said. "If you just stand there, you don't have much of a chance. We had to try and create some action and we got caught."

There were two outs in the bottom of the ninth, when the Reds perked up against Lee while trailing by a 3-0 score. Votto scorched a double to the wall in center field and Jay Bruce walked on a full count pitch to bring up Miguel Cairo, representing the tying run. On an 0-2 breaking ball, Lee grazed Cairo on the right pants leg to load the bases.

Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel summoned Ryan Madson to finish the game. Madson got pinch-hitter Yonder Alonso to pop out to third base for the final out. The Reds are 1-6 vs. Philadelphia this season, and the latest loss sent them back to 67-69 -- five full games behind second-place St. Louis in the National League Central. Comments