PITTSBURGH (AP) – The Cincinnati Reds hope better days will follow this bad season.
Cincinnati’s season ended Sunday with a 4-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Reds finished their second straight losing season with a 64-98 record that was second-worst in the NL.
It was the Reds’ most losses since 1937, when they went 56-98, and their first last-place finish since 1983.
The Reds hope the experience will benefit the young pitchers Cincinnati turned to as the club looks for potential contributors for 2016. Rookies started each of the Reds’ last 64 games and 110 overall, both major league records.
“After a year like this, we have to make something of this season,” manager Bryan Price said. “This was a season to help move us toward better places. If not, it’s just a failure and it can’t just be a season of failure. It’s got to be something that moves us toward a better place.”
Cincinnati received impressive individual performances by Joey Votto, who tied Pete Rose’s club record by reaching base in 48 consecutive games, and Todd Frazier, who clubbed 35 home runs and won the Home Run Derby during July’s All-Star festivities in Cincinnati.
Frazier said he met some of his individual goals for the season, but any individual pride was negated by the team’s losing campaign.
“If we’re looking at the team goals,” Frazier said, “we didn’t make those. It’s right there written in stone. It didn’t start off well and it didn’t end well.”
The struggles on the mound were endured by nine rookies, a group from which the Reds hope to find members of their starting rotation next season. Anthony DeSclafani (9-13, 4.05 ERA) and Raisel Iglesias (104 strikeouts in 95 1-3 innings) made noticeable strides.
“All in all you want to be in the playoffs,” Frazier said. “You want to win your division, but if we look at the positives, let’s look at the rookies coming in and battling their tails off, going through adversity and hopefully learning from everything.”
Josh Smith (0-4) was the last rookie to start. He remained winless in seven career starts as he gave up two runs and seven hits in four innings with four strikeouts and no walks.
Pedro Alvarez’s 479-foot leadoff home run to center field in the fourth inning, his team-high 27th, made it 2-0 after Josh Harrison doubled in the first and scored on Neil Walker’s single.
The Pirates added another run in the sixth and one in the seventh.
Pittsburgh clinched the home field in the NL wild card-game. The Pirates (98-64) locked up the right to host the Chicago Cubs (97-65) Wednesday night in a winner-take-all playoff.
“I just know it sure does make things a little bit more seamless for us,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We love playing at home. Our guys love pitching at home.”
J.A. Happ (11-8) gave up three hits in six innings. He struck out seven and walked two while improving to 7-2 in 11 starts since being acquired July 31 from the Seattle Mariners.
Joakim Soria, Tony Watson and Mark Melancon finished the six-hitter with one scoreless inning apiece.
RAMIREZ, BURNETT FETED
Pirates third baseman Aramis Ramirez and right-hander A.J. Burnett, who are both retiring at the end of the season, were honored in pregame ceremonies. Ramirez is finishing his 18th season and Burnett is a 17-year veteran.
The Pirates set a single-season attendance record for a second straight year with a total of 2,498,596, up 56,032 from last season, and an average of 30,847 a game.
Reds: Open the 2016 season against the Philadelphia Phillies on April 4 at home. The Phillies (63-99) and Reds had the two worst records in the major leagues this year.
Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (19-9, 2.60 ERA in the regular season) will start the wild-card game and face RHP Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77).