PITTSBURGH -- Even as veteran reliever Kevin Gregg has struggled the first month of the season, Reds manager Bryan Price has not been afraid to hand him the ball when games are close.
Gregg hasn't rewarded Price too often for his faith. During Thursday's 7-2 loss to the Pirates, a three-run bottom of the seventh against Gregg did in the Reds. Through his 11 appearances, the 36-year-old has a 10.13 ERA with at least one run allowed in seven games and two runs given up in four of them. Price defended his use of the right-hander.
"I think Kevin puts everything he's got into every single outing. He's unbelievably professional in how he goes about his business," Price said. "It's been a rough start for him, no doubt. It's why I thought tonight's game was another opportunity in a close one-run game to get him in there and get him on a roll.
"I refer to it a lot, but these guys don't get any better sitting in the bullpen and never pitching. [Tony] Cingrani and [Jumbo] Diaz are going to get us to [closer Aroldis] Chapman in games where we're tied or ahead, but we've got to have guys come into those games and keep them close too. We're going to have to be better at that."
Gregg made the club as a non-roster player out of Spring Training and began the season as the eighth-inning set-up man. That job lately has gone to Cingrani or Diaz.
On Thursday, the Reds trailed by a 3-2 score when Gregg entered to begin the bottom of the seventh inning. Seven batters later, and with two outs, the deficit was four runs. It started when Neil Walker drew a leadoff walk, followed by two singles.
"Quite often it starts with a leadoff walk, and that got things going," Price said.
There was a one-out walk to Josh Harrison before Chris Stewart lined a two-out, two-run single to center field. That brought Price out to pull Gregg for Carlos Contreras.
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.