Reds' patience tested after another rout

Pitchers surrender 6 HRs to Cards; Simon enters in relief

Reds' patience tested after another rout

ST. LOUIS -- Following another night of poor pitching in a 14-3 Reds loss to the Cardinals, there was a meeting among manager Bryan Price, president of baseball operations Walt Jocketty and general manager Dick Williams. They have a situation on their hands that leaves them with little wiggle room.

During the four-game losing streak on the road trip through Chicago (three games) and St. Louis, Reds pitchers have given up 36 runs. Three of the four games have been blowouts that were decided in the early innings. This after the team got off to a 5-1 start.

"Everyone is trying. Unfortunately it's a business of performance, and we haven't had great performance recently," Price said. "But the first five, six games of the season, we really pitched well. It's in there. We knew coming into the season that we had to be patient. It's hard. It's hard to get beat up like this the last few games and fall back on patience."

On Friday, Cincinnati gave up six home runs, and four more walks made it 26 over the four games. Tim Melville needed 10 pitches before he threw his first strike, and he gave up two three-run homers in the loss.

During Wednesday's 9-2 loss, Alfredo Simon lasted two-thirds of an inning in the start and gave up five runs. Simon returned Friday in relief during the seventh inning and gave up four more runs in one inning on two homers. He is expected to be ready for his next start on Monday vs. the Rockies.

"We used Freddy, it wasn't a great outing. It did save us from using somebody else for an inning tonight," Price said.

Entering the season, the Reds had five starting pitchers on the disabled list. Bullpen roles were not sorted out until the final days of Spring Training and included two late signings.

"We knew what our challenges were starting the season, and it was getting our rotation healthy and settling our bullpen issues. We're not there yet," Price said. "We'll get better as these guys start coming off the DL towards the end of the month or early May. Until then, we've got to find a way to survive with the pitching. We've got to keep the position players invigorated to come out and play hard, and we're going to have to fight back sometimes."

Down in the Minors, the only pitchers on the 40-man roster and in Triple-A are Robert Stephenson and Stephen Johnson. Rookie Davis, Amir Garrett and Sal Romano are at Double-A.

"We don't have a lot of options as far as guys," Price said. "We're not going to bring those guys up [from Double-A] at this point in time.

"In order to do something, we'd have to take somebody off the roster and make a couple of roster moves. And that's an option. Certainly getting beat 14-3 and 9-2 and those things under any circumstances can't be tolerated long term, even if that long term is the first month of the season. We've got to be more competitive than this. And if not, we've got to find other opportunities for other people."

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.