Can Walt Jocketty pull off a last-second deal?

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With the Reds wilting out west, the NL Central slipping away and the trade deadline here, you have to wonder if Cincinnati general manager Walt Jocketty can somehow pull off a last-second deal for a much-needed bat.

Jocketty has told the Reds beat writers that he has not been engaged in any serious trade talks. There were reports that Jocketty inquired about the Giants’ (and former Lexington Legend) Hunter Pence, but the asking price was far too high.

And yet, the Reds have scored a grand total of five runs in their five-game losing streak. They’ve scored three runs in 18 innings in San Diego, losing 2-1 and 4-2. Their starting pitchers have allowed two earned runs over 20 innings in the last three games and lost all three.

St. Louis, the former NL Central leader, has lost six straight. The Cardinals have scored a grand total of six runs in those six games. They played 20 innings — an 11-inning game and a regulation nine — in Tuesday night’s doubleheader in Pittsburgh and scored all of one run. Since July 11, Yadier Molina is the only Cardinal to have hit a homer. Molina has hit two and he’s also headed to disabled list.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has scored 26 runs over its last five games, four of them wins. Pedro Alvarez has now hit 27 homers and has to be considered a leading contender for National League MVP. And the Pirates now own a 1.5-game lead over the Cards and a six-game lead over the Reds.

True, Ryan Ludwick is drawing closer to a return. The Reds’ left-fielder, injured on opening day, is currently in Louisville on a rehab assignment. Manager Dusty Baker said Tuesday that there is no way Ludwick would be ready for a return by this weekend when Cincinnati plays host to St. Louis for a three-game series at Great American Ball Park.

Homer Bailey faces Eric Stults this afternoon at 3:40 in the finale of the three-game Reds-Padres series in San Diego.

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Photo of Shin-Soo Choo by Associated Press.

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