MILWAUKEE — Rookie Brandon Woodruff's sunny outlook didn't match his performance on the mound.
The Milwaukee Brewers right-hander still believes his team can make the playoffs even as his team's chances get slimmer with each defeat.
Woodruff was chased in a five-run third inning and the Brewers dropped 2 1/2 games behind Colorado for the second NL wild-card spot following a 6-0 loss to the last-place Cincinnati Reds. Milwaukee has lost five of seven.
"Yeah, it stings a little bit more, especially at the end of the year in this type of race," Woodruff said.
The Brewers were eliminated from the NL Central race earlier in the evening when the Chicago Cubs beat St. Louis. But with four games left, Woodruff is trying to stay positive.
"Oh man, we can do it," said Woodruff (2-3), who made his major league debut last month. "We're going to come back tomorrow and get ready to win these next four games here, and we'll get ready to make the playoffs."
Not with these kind of nights. The Brewers can't afford another letdown when they wrap up their series with Cincinnati on Thursday.
Joey Votto hit his team-high 36th home run and Homer Bailey (6-9) threw seven strong innings for the Reds.
Tucker Barnhart opened the third with a home run and Bailey followed with a double. A one-out walk and four straight singles finished Woodruff.
"Any big innings in the National League often revolve around the pitcher getting on base. You've got to make that spot an out," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
The Brewers were held to four hits. Bailey settled down after a choppy first to make his longest start since Aug. 7, 2014. He allowed four hits, walked three and struck out four.
"That was good downward angle on a very good fastball and was able to make some nice pitches with his slider," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "A great way to finish the year."
Down by six runs in the fourth, the Brewers took a gamble on the bases that failed.
Milwaukee managed to get runners on first and second with two outs, but Travis Shaw was thrown out at the plate by centre fielder Billy Hamilton while trying to score on Orlando Arcia's single.
The Brewers are running out of time to gain ground in a playoff race that few fans outside of Milwaukee thought was possible when the season began. At 83-75, they might have to settle for the satisfaction of having already clinched a winning season, an impressive feat for a franchise in just its second full year of rebuilding.
"You know, it's been a great ride for a lot of reasons. It was not expected this season," team owner Mark Attanasio said before the game. "Or, if somebody did expect it, I'd like to know who it was. Maybe Craig Counsell might have expected it."
Bailey allowed the first two batters to reach in the first before Ryan Braun bounced into a 6-4-3 double play that boosted his confidence.
"I had a little trouble there early and just tried to keep in mind sometimes you're one pitch away from something really good happening," Bailey said. "From there, I was fortunate enough to have a little reset there in the second."
Reds: SS Zack Cozart left the game before the bottom of the third with right quad tightness.
Brewers: 1B Eric Thames writhed in pain for about a minute on the ground after fouling a ball in the eighth inning off his right foot. He limped back to the dugout on a 1-2 count, with Eric Sogard striking out to finish the at-bat. Counsell said X-rays were negative and Thames was diagnosed with a foot contusion.
Reds: RHP Sal Romano (5-7), one of four rookies in the rotation, makes his final start of the year. He is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in two starts this year against Milwaukee.
Brewers: LHP Brent Suter (3-2) is 1-0 with a 4.35 ERA in six games against the Reds. He allowed five runs on four hits in five innings in his only start against Cincinnati on Aug. 12.
AP freelance writer Andrew Wagner contributed to this story.
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