CINCINNATI -- Clinging to a one-run lead in the top of the eighth on Tuesday against the Rockies, the last thing relief pitcher Sam LeCure wanted to do was allow a game-tying home run to Carlos Gonzalez.
Well, almost the last thing.
"You don't want to leave a ball over the heart of the plate and tie the game up," LeCure said. "But the worst thing to do is put a guy on so one swing of the bat puts them in the lead."
Unfortunately for the 29-year-old right-hander, that's exactly what he did. After Gonzalez drew a walk, Troy Tulowitzki came to the plate and hit a rope to left field. The ball never came down into the field of play, as it was caught by a fan right on the yellow line at the top of the wall. The umpires conferred and initially called the hit a home run, which was upheld following a 40-second video review. The result was a disappointing 5-4 loss for Cincinnati and a much-needed win for Colorado.
The Reds had just broken a tie in the bottom of the seventh when they put runners on the corners and Rockies reliever Edgmer Escalona committed a balk to plate the go-ahead run. The advantage didn't last long, though, as Cincinnati lost for the second time in three days when leading heading into the eighth.
"That was unfortunate," said LeCure, who surrendered a run for the first time since May 5 and allowed a homer for the first time since April 6. "We battled our butts off there to scratch that run across in the bottom of the seventh. As a reliever, you're always thinking the later in the game that you're pitching, the better. I've wanted the opportunity to go out there to try and lock it down late. Today wasn't the day."
For the Reds to have a chance to lose in rather heartbreaking fashion, they first had to overcome an early deficit. Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey spotted the Rockies three runs in the second inning on a pair of singles and back-to-back doubles. Unlike his last start, though, when Bailey gave up seven runs in the fourth inning to the Indians, the 27-year-old right-hander limited the damage and lived to see another frame.
He took complete advantage, retiring the next 13 batters after Dexter Fowler's RBI single in the top of the second. Bailey struck out five batters in that stretch, and only two balls made it out of the infield. For the night, he allowed six hits while striking out seven.
While Bailey picked apart the Rockies, the Reds offense picked up their starting pitcher. Cincinnati got one back in the bottom of the second, thanks to a leadoff double by Todd Frazier followed by a pair of groundouts. The Reds tacked on two more in the fourth, sparked again by a Frazier double, to tie the game at three.
That would be the end of any significant action until the top of the seventh, when Bailey escaped a one-out situation with runners on the corners by inducing a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning and his outing with the game tied.
Then, in the bottom of the seventh, luck appeared to be on the Reds' side. After a Cesar Izturis flyout, Xavier Paul doubled and advanced to third on a base hit by Shin-Soo Choo. Escalona was then called for the balk when he faked to third base and turned to throw to first, which you can't do this year.
"We lose this game, it's going to be talked about a lot," Tulowitzki said. "It's already going to be talked about. We figured it was going to happen to someone. We didn't know it was going to be on our own team."
After his club took the lead, Reds manager Dusty Baker turned to LeCure, who had already been warmed up for about an inning. LeCure had been lights-out most of the season, and after Jonathan Broxton blew the lead in Pittsburgh on Sunday, it was no surprise to see LeCure enter the game late on Tuesday.
"I've been well aware that I've been throwing the ball well for a while," LeCure said. "People remind of me of that, and I'm always like, 'Yeah, it's unfortunate because someday it's going to end. Someday it's going to come to an end.' It doesn't have to be today, but today was the day."
Still, in the bottom of the eighth, the Reds had a chance to reclaim the lead. Following a one-out Donald Lutz single, Ryan Hanigan came to the dish and hit a ball to the warning track in center field. Dexter Fowler tracked it down and made the catch, and Lutz ran all the way to third thinking there were two outs, setting up an inning-ending double play.
The Reds have lost four of the last seven, but still sit alone in second place in the NL Central. LeCure took ownership of the loss, but Baker said it's one that could pay dividends in the future as a character-building game.
"It's an up and down season," Baker said. "It's a long year. I just got to give my guys some love and make sure that they know that I'm behind them, if not everybody else. We played a good game tonight. We got some clutch hitting, Homer pitched well, and we just got to deal with it."
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter at MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.