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October 3, 2013

Reds face offseason of questions after late slide

Cincy finished season on six-game losing streak.

CINCINNATI (AP) — The Reds kept their lineup virtually intact in the offseason, convinced it was ready for a push deep into the playoffs. They didn’t add anything at midseason, thinking they were still fine.

They paid for those decisions in another playoff flameout.

A 6-2 loss at Pittsburgh in the wild-card game on Tuesday night marked the third straight quick exit from the playoffs for a team that’s learned how to win 90 games during the regular season but can’t translate that success to the playoffs.

“I think everyone has to hold themselves responsible and figure out a way to take the next step because we changed the culture around here,” outfielder Jay Bruce said. “We’re a winning club now. I’m proud of our season in that aspect.

“But we need to take the next step,” he added. “We need to find a way to do that.”

This one ended so much like those others.

The Reds won 91 games and reached the playoffs in 2010 as NL Central champions, breaking the franchise’s 15-year playoff drought. They got swept by the Phillies, but considered it a first step for a young team.

Last year, they won 97 games and the first two playoff games in San Francisco before returning home and getting swept away. This year, they won 91 games and a wild card berth, but dropped their last six games overall, including the one-game playoff at PNC Park.

Good seasons, ugly endings.

“In our eyes coming into spring training, we wanted to build off what happened last year and we didn’t do that,” shortstop Zack Cozart said. “We made the postseason but this isn’t what we wanted.”

The biggest problem down the stretch was an inconsistent offense that went through one of its periodic downturns at a very bad time. The Reds scored only 2, 0, 1, 3, 2 and 2 runs in those last six losses.

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