Let’s recap today’s titanic struggle….

FINAL
Cincinnati 9
Atlanta 10
WP: Kimbrel (1-0)
LP: Cordero (1-3)
BOX SCORE

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DISASTER

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I don’t really want to tell the story of this nightmare, so I will leave it to ESPN:

The ball went over. Game over.

Conrad hit a pinch-hit grand slam Thursday to finish off a seven-run ninth inning that gave the Braves a 10-9 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, who fell out of first in the NL Central and can only hope the stunning loss doesn’t leave a hangover on their surprisingly strong start.

“It was a horrible ending,” said Reds manager Dusty Baker, who appeared close to breaking down after the game. “Boy, that was a tough one.”

The Braves put together the biggest ninth-inning comeback since the Cleveland Indians rallied from six runs down against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 25, 2009, according to STATS LLC. …

Atlanta fell behind 8-0 against rookie sensation Mike Leake and was still down 9-3 heading to the ninth. Four straight hits, including Nate McLouth’s two-run single, gave the Braves hope. A walk to David Ross loaded the bases with no outs, bringing the potential tying run to the plate.

Martin Prado hit a grounder to third that looked like a sure double play, but Miguel Cairo couldn’t get the ball out of his glove — Cincinnati’s fourth error of the game. Jason Heyward struck out against Arthur Rhodes on a 3-2 pitch, and Cincinnati turned to closer Francisco Cordero (1-3) for the last two outs.

Instead, Conrad hit a drive that deflected off Nix’s glove as he reached over the top of the wall at the 380-foot sign. Standing near the mound, Cordero ripped out his jersey and looked toward the dugout in disbelief.

The Braves won their third straight game in the final at-bat, beating the Reds 5-4 with Heyward’s ninth-inning double Wednesday. Atlanta has won eight of 10 to climb above .500 (21-20) for the first time since April 22.

The remarkable rally overshadowed Joey Votto’s first career grand slam, the highlight of Cincinnati’s eight-run second inning, and Leake’s attempt to improve to 5-0. Craig Kimbrel (1-0) quietly picked up his first major league win with a scoreless ninth.

Leake certainly did his part, allowing only one earned run on five hits in six innings. He gave up three runs in all, but the others could be blamed on a leaky defense that eventually caught up with the Reds. Right-fielder Jay Bruce fumbled away a fly ball at the warning track, and shortstop Orlando Cabrera dropped a throw on a potential double-play grounder.

Cabrera also mishandled a hard-hit grounder in the ninth, a play that was generously ruled a hit.

“We gave them their first three runs, and in the ninth we got two double-play balls,” Baker said. “It was shocking, all right.”

NOT-SO-RANDOM THOUGHTS
–The left side of the infield today was the worst excuse for defense that I’ve seen in a long time. Orlando Cabrera is a complete disaster defensively, and there’s no way that his “offense” makes up for the gap between what he and Paul Janish provide on defense. It is a complete scandal that Janish never plays.

–Miguel Cairo has no business on a major league roster. Of course, he was playing third today because (A) Dusty Baker hates Paul Janish, and (B) Scott Rolen was, according to Dusty, “very sore and tight.”

–Mike Leake is, simply, brilliant. That kid is the best pitcher on the team; he’s now 4-0 with a 2.91 ERA, and he was robbed of a fifth win today. Oh yeah, he also went 2-3 at the plate with a double and a run scored.

–Dusty’s beloved veterans should buy Mike Leake an ice cream cone and apologize to him.

–Good teams don’t blow eight-run leads. I’m worried about what this game says about our team.

–Drew Stubbs is awful.

–I’m not going to catalog the moronic moves made by our illustrious manager today; check out the game thread, where you guys and gals did a good job of that. This loss is not Dusty Baker’s fault. The Cairos and Corderos and Cabreras and Lincolns and Bruces and Massets of the world deserve their share of the blame. But a large portion of that blame lies at Dusty’s feet, as well.

–Four errors? Where was the good defense we’ve been seeing lately? Oh yeah, it was picking up the bats between batters, and it was “sore and tight” too.

–Free Micah Owings. Free Paul Janish.

–Arthur Rhodes is the greatest pitcher in the history of the universe and he should’ve been left in the game to face more than one batter in that fateful ninth inning.

–I said in yesterday’s recap that it wasn’t a bad loss. Well, today’s loss wasn’t just bad, it was monumental. One of the worst losses I’ve ever experienced. This one was pretty bad, and this one is the only one that I might consider worse than today’s. Today’s game hurts pretty bad, mostly because the Reds gave away first place in addition to losing a game.

–Over on Twitter, someone said that the next few games will tell us a lot about our team, and it’ll tell us a lot about our fan base, as well. I agree with that.

–All that said, the Reds are just a half-game out of first, so let’s not give up hope just yet. The guys are headed to Cleveland to take on a pretty bad Indians team, so they can right the ship in a hurry. This one will sting for a while, sure, but it’s too early to jump ship.