Road success breeding credibility for Reds

Road success breeding credibility for Reds

NEW YORK -- Thursday's 13-inning Reds victory by a 5-4 score over the Pirates wasn't just a reward for perseverance during a long night, but also a rare road series win.

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Cincinnati is now 3-7-2 in road series after taking two of three at Pittsburgh before beginning another three-game set vs. the Mets at Citi Field on Friday. One reason the Reds haven't been able to climb the hump to get over .500 is because of their struggles on the road. Their last away series win had been May 5-7, also at PNC Park.

While the club is 20-14 at Great American Ball Park, it entered Friday 14-23 on the road. Winning on the road brings credibility to teams that hope to contend. And while the Reds have some work to do in that regard -- they entered Friday five games back for the second National League Wild Card spot -- manager Bryan Price believes wins like Thursday's help.

"What helps is getting away from the two steps forward, two steps back," Price said Friday afternoon. "We've definitely been playing better the last few weeks, much more consistent in every facet of the game. We're taking kind of incremental steps toward .500. And then reach that plateau, continue forward and then start to think about where we are coming out of the All-Star break. Right now, the focus is really on the consistency of the play, and I like the way we're playing.

"We can't expect to have a successful season being a team that loses two out of every three on the road. Regardless of how well we play at home, we've got to be better on the road. [Thursday] could have been a really good indicator that we're beginning to play better."

The Reds came in to New York winners of six of their previous eight games, 11 of 17 and three games below .500 at 34-37. The team is 16-11 since a nine-game losing streak ended on May 26. It's possibly complicated the mystery of whether the club might be sellers heading toward the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline with assets like Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman and Marlon Byrd.

Price said he hasn't sensed players are concerned about the trade winds of speculation. He also believed the team can show more than it has for much of the first half.

"We were picked to finish fourth and fifth in our division. So far, all we've done is live up to the expectations of many that evaluate our team," Price said. "If we buy into that, then we're a fourth- or fifth-place team. Our guys in the clubhouse -- not just the coaches and the manager -- we all see ourselves as a better team than that and a team that could surprise some people regardless of the environment that at times could look bleak. I don't think we feel there's any reason to be pessimistic about our opportunity here."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.