MILWAUKEE -- A subdued Bronson Arroyo captured the mood in a sombre Cincinnati locker room Sunday after the Reds blew a late three-run lead and lost to the Milwaukee Brewers 6-5 on Sean Halton's game-ending home run.
"That is probably as crushing of a defeat as we've had all year," Arroyo said.
The loss dealt a blow to Reds' pursuit of the NL Central title, although the team still has a hold on one of the wild-card spots.
Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said his team is feeling the pain of the loss.
"We can still finish strong, but that is not going to take away the sting we feel today," Baker said. "You have to feel the sting today and get over it tomorrow because we have another series tomorrow. This does hurt. It really hurts."
Halton's home run with one out in the ninth came off reliever Zach Duke (1-2), the fifth Cincinnati pitcher. It was Halton's third homer of the season and first career walk-off.
"As a kid growing up, I wanted to be a baseball player and a major leaguer. That's the top of the mountain," Halton said.
Halton's big blow came after Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez made a game-saving catch on a deep drive by Jay Bruce with two runners on and two outs in the top of the ninth. Gomez extended over the centre field fence to take away a home run from Bruce.
"Same thing happened to us last time we came in. Gomez robbed us of a potential game-winning home run," Baker said. "I thought Jay got that ball."
Gomez also threw out Brandon Phillips at third base earlier in the game.
"I'm expecting (Bruce) to hit the ball to centre field or the gap because he's an aggressive hitter and I moved a few steps to the right side and I could follow the ball all the way through and get close to the fence," Gomez said.
Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke noted that Gomez has made several home run-saving catches this season.
"That was really well-timed. He knew he had plenty of time, plenty of distance away from the wall," Roenicke said. "He's good at it. He's made a lot of them."
Bruce said the Reds need to put the loss behind them.
"It is not always going to go our way, but there are 12 or 13 games left. We are fine," he said. "Obviously we would have liked to play better this series, but we can't change the past now. You have to go forward and take advantage of the opportunities in front of us."
Jean Segura sparked an eighth-inning rally with a two-run triple after Reds relievers walked the first two batters of the inning. Jonathan Lucroy followed with a sacrifice fly to tie it.
Jim Henderson (4-5) pitched a scoreless inning in relief to pick up the win.
The Brewers survived a shaky outing by starter Yovani Gallardo, who was tagged for five runs on seven hits over six innings. He walked three and struck out five.
Arroyo surrendered two runs on three hits over 6 1-3 innings. He walked four, struck out one and didn't give up a hit until Segura singled leading off the fourth.
"I felt good through the sixth, but I was having a little bit of control problems with my sinker, it was moving too much off the plate," Arroyo said.
Arroyo got into a bit of trouble in the seventh, walking the first two batters before retiring Caleb Gindl on a fly ball.
He departed after issuing his third walk of the inning. The Brewers then scored a run on a fielder's choice before Cincinnati reliever Sam LeCure retired Jeff Bianchi on a groundout to end the threat.
The Reds got on the board in the first inning when Gallardo laboured through a 39-pitch inning.
Phillips had a run-scoring single, Ryan Ludwick drew a bases-loaded walk and Zach Cozart delivered a sacrifice fly to help the Reds jump out to a 3-0 lead.
Todd Frazier's RBI single with two outs in the third extended Cincinnati's lead to 4-0.
Gindl's leadoff homer in the fifth gave Milwaukee its first run of the game, cutting the lead to 4-1.
Frazier's homer leading off the sixth pushed the Reds' advantage back to four.
NOTES: Reds RHP Johnny Cueto, who hasn't pitched since June 28 due to an injured back muscle, is scheduled to start Monday against Houston. ... Arroyo reached 30 starts for the ninth consecutive season, an active streak bettered only by Toronto's Mark Buehrle, who has done it 13 years in a row.