Rough trip for 'pen ends with run off Ohlendorf

Rough trip for 'pen ends with run off Ohlendorf

ST. LOUIS -- In a rough six-game road trip, the Reds' bullpen struggled to keep deficits from increasing, to hold leads, or to get the job done when there was no margin for mistakes at all.

The latter is what reliever Ross Ohlendorf faced in the eighth inning Sunday before the Reds were handed a 4-3 loss by the Cardinals. Ohlendorf entered with a 3-3 tie before walking the leadoff batter and allowing Eric Fryer's two-out RBI double for the go-ahead run that sealed a 1-5 trip.

"I need to pitch better than I did today, especially when my stuff is that good," Ohlendorf said.

The bullpen was identified as a sore spot entering the season, as roles were up in the air until after Spring Training ended. However, Reds relievers began the season acquitting themselves nicely. Over the first three games and 10 innings of work, only Keyvius Sampson allowed two runs. In the two-plus games before the road trip, the bullpen had a 9 1/3 inning-scoreless streak.

On the road trip, however, Cincinnati relievers gave up 23 runs over 26 innings. The bullpen's ERA has jumped to 5.26, which actually dropped from a 5.44 ERA entering Sunday. The group is third in the Majors with 45 1/3 innings, and that taxing has not helped. The relief corps is first in the league with 28 walks and second with 806 pitches thrown.

"I thought we did really well at home," Ohlendorf said. "It was a little bit of a tough road trip. I have confidence that we're going to do really well still this year."

Among the tougher moments, last Monday after Brandon Finnegan carried a no-hitter for 6 2/3 innings, the Reds blew a 3-0 lead for a 5-3 loss. On Saturday, they won, 9-8, hanging on after the lead was 8-4. Closer J.J. Hoover got his first save despite giving up a two-run homer in the ninth.

On Sunday, lefty Tony Cingrani worked a one-walk seventh and was back on the mound for the eighth until the Cardinals summoned Aledmys Diaz to pinch-hit. Manager Bryan Price countered by calling on Ohlendorf.

Following the walk, Ohlendorf got two popouts before Fryer scorched a liner through the gap in left-center field.

"I'd asked Tony to come in and throw a full inning and didn't really want to throw two innings or one-plus. To me it didn't make sense to have Tony face him and then bring in Ohlendorf after," Price said. "So I just went with the matchup. I wasn't going to run Tony out there, I just wanted to force them to make a decision there, which they did. It played out to where we got a matchup for Ohlendorf and it just didn't work out."

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.