CINCINNATI -- From lucky 7's to seventh heaven, the number seven is typically associated with good fortune.
That wasn't the case for Homer Bailey on Sunday night, as a four-run seventh inning proved to be the downfall of his impressive line, leading to a 5-3 Reds loss at the hands of the Dodgers on Sunday night at Great American Ball Park.
From the start, it looked like Bailey would continue his dominant September showing that featured four straight quality starts allowing two runs or fewer with two consecutive wins.
Bailey was on fire through the first six frames, and aside from Adrian Gonzalez's solo home run in the second had given up just one single in that span. In fact, the Dodgers only managed to get four balls out of the infield by the end of the sixth, as Bailey retired 10 straight at one point.
"I think the whole night, I wasn't quite as sharp as I have been most of this month," said Bailey, who received his first loss since Aug. 26. "I guess you could kind of expect that after the events we had last night. But sometimes you just have to deal with that. That's a pretty tough offense over there."
That offense came to life in the seventh inning, led off again by Gonzalez's second solo shot of the night, which broke a 1-1 tie. Bailey allowed back-to-back singles from Hanley Ramirez and Luis Cruz to put runners on the corners with no outs.
Bailey struck out one and threw out another on a sacrifice bunt attempt. Second baseman Miguel Cairo, covering at first on the putout, bobbled the ball while trying to make a throw back to home, allowing another run to cross the plate.
A four-pitch walk ended Bailey's outing, and he was forced to watch from the dugout as his strong start fizzled.
"I thought he was solid," acting manager Chris Speier said of Bailey's performance. "It just got to the point where he got down in that situation. I thought I'd give him a chance to try and get out of it. I thought he threw really, really well."
Jose Arredondo replaced Bailey in the seventh and surrendered an RBI double by Mark Ellis followed by an RBI single by Andre Ethier to put the Reds down, 5-1, entering the eighth.
Cincinnati's offense wasn't quite at full commission Sunday, playing without the services of Jay Bruce, Ryan Ludwick and Brandon Phillips -- the top three run producers on the club.
The Reds still managed to a few threats throughout the evening, knocking five hits and drawing five walks off Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw through five innings. But they couldn't find a way to break through, leaving 10 runners stranded.
Kershaw, who hadn't pitched since Sept. 11, was a late decision to start Sunday due to a right hip impingement. The Dodgers came to the conclusion that he couldn't damage the hip any further, and called on their 24-year-old ace in the series finale.
"He's incredible," Gonzalez said of Kershaw. "One of the top three pitchers in the game, going out in a gutsy effort, not feeling 100 percent. Unbelievable."
The Reds offense showed some signs of life again in the eighth, as September callup Denis Phipps launched his first career home run off Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario. The 405-foot, two-run blast down the line in left made it 5-3.
"It felt good. That's all I can say, it felt good," said a smiling Phipps. "Every opportunity they give me I'm trying to do the best I can. I was missing his good pitches, and he threw me a slider. I'm glad I hit it."
Phipps will thank his lucky stars, as the home run opportunity was nearly taken away from him.
"To tell you the truth, I was thinking about pinch-hitting for him," Speier said. "Had the situation been a must-win situation for us, I probably would have. I was really, really happy he hit that."
Mark Clements is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.