PITTSBURGH -- Anthony DeSclafani lived a little too dangerously on the mound for the Reds on Thursday. During a 7-2 loss to the Pirates, the rookie starting pitcher had one jam after the next before he could escape no more.
Over his five innings, DeSclafani allowed three earned runs and seven hits with four walks and one strikeout. Although he occasionally appeared squeezed by home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez's strike zone, DeSclafani didn't help himself much while throwing 81 pitches, 49 for strikes.
"I got myself in a lot of jams. I definitely wasn't happy with this outing," DeSclafani said. "I kind of felt like I was fighting myself mechanically and I wasn't getting ahead of hitters at all."
Only in the second inning did DeSclafani retire the Pirates in order. Through four innings, Pittsburgh was 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position, leaving six on base as the right-hander wiggled out of tough spots early on.
"He had a hard time staying on top of the ball," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It looked like he didn't have his best fastball and he was trying to sink the ball a little bit more and got off the top of the ball, which gives it a lot more action, but is a bit harder to control. He got into some hitters' counts and had to fight his way through some walks.
"I thought he did do a great job of battling because it can be so frustrating when you're throwing the ball and you're not sure where it's going to end up in the zone."
Three walks came in the bottom of the third, but no runs. Back-to-back one-out singles in the fourth inning, followed by a sacrifice bunt had runners on second and third base before they were stranded.
In the fifth, a Walker single, followed by a double off of third baseman Todd Frazier's glove by McCutchen put DeSclafani in another tough spot. Runs scored on Starling Marte's sacrifice fly and Pedro Alvarez's RBI double off the center-field wall that made it a 3-1 game.
In his first three starts for the Reds, DeSclafani had three quality starts, the Reds had three wins while he was 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA. That included a career-high eight scoreless innings on April 20 against the Brewers.
Over his last three starts, DeSclafani is 0-3 with a 7.20 ERA. All three outings were five innings each, while he walked 11 batters with 11 strikeouts.
"These walks are something that I'm not used to," DeSclafani said. "I don't like walking a lot of people. I like attacking hitters. I'm kind of just fighting myself these past few starts. I've got to make an adjustment and figure out something quick. I hate losing. I hate competing like this."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.