Rapid Reaction: Reds 4, Cubs 3 (10)

CINCINNATI -- The Chicago Cubs gave up three runs in the ninth inning and one in the 10th to drop a 4-3 decision to the Cincinnati Reds.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Carlos Marmol had another ninth-inning meltdown, spoiling a brilliant outing from Ryan Dempster in his return from the disabled list. Marmol was charged with all three runs in the ninth inning without recording an out, allowing the Reds to tie the game. The Reds won it in the 10th on a sacrifice fly. Dempster, who had been out the previous 15 days with a strained right quadriceps muscle, gave up three hits without a run over eight innings and 101 pitches. The offense delivered home runs by Starlin Castro, Bryan LaHair and Geovany Soto.

WHAT IT MEANS: The hope was that Marmol would be better with more work, but it’s merely looking like wishful thinking now. Marmol continues to look as if he’s afraid of contact and wants nothing to do with the strike zone. While the coaching staff has asked for more fastballs he has preferred to go with sliders, leaning on deception to get him through outings. He wasn’t helped by an Ian Stewart error on a bouncing ball that probably would have been a double play.

OUTSIDE THE BOX: LaHair had a monster road trip, batting .435 (10-for-23) with three home runs and five RBIs, including home runs in each of the two games in Cincinnati. In fact, going back to the series at Philadelphia, LaHair has hit a home run in three consecutive games and is working on player of the week numbers. He has now reached base safely in 21 consecutive games dating back to April 8.

OFF BEAT: It ended up not being a happy birthday for either of them. Dempster was pitching on his 35th birthday, opposite the Reds’ Homer Bailey, who was pitching on his 26th birthday. It was the first time in major league history a pair of birthday boys went up against each other. Dempster clearly got more “presents” in the form of the three home runs supplied by his teammates, but then came the Marmol outing. Dempster also pitched well on his birthday last season but ended up with a no-decision. The last Cubs pitcher to record a victory on his birthday was Randy Wells on Aug. 28, 2010.

UP NEXT: The Cubs return home Friday after a week on the road with left-hander Paul Maholm (2-2, 6.20 ERA) taking the mound against the Dodgers. He will be countered by Los Angeles right-hander Chad Billingsley (2-1, 2.64) in the 1:20 p.m. start from Wrigley Field.