PHILADELPHIA -- Reds starting pitcher Brandon Finnegan threw 43 strikes and 42 balls in his outing vs. the Phillies on Friday. Finnegan also issued five walks among those 85 pitches. Rarely is that a recipe for victory.
Although initially unscathed, Finnegan's lack of command caught up with him during a three-run fourth inning for a 3-2 Reds loss to Philadelphia.
"He knows he can't walk five in four innings and have success," Reds acting manager Jim Riggleman said.
Finnegan's night was condensed into four innings as he gave up three earned runs and four hits with four strikeouts. Two of the hits came on bunts. The five walks equal the career high he previously set on April 11 against the Cubs.
"It was pretty obvious that I didn't have a feel for anything," Finnegan said. "At the same, you've got to squeeze a lot out of a few pitches."
There were no clean innings as Finnegan had runners on base each time. He also had some good fortune. After his first batter of the night, Odubel Herrera, walked in the first inning, Finnegan picked him off as he tried to steal. Following a bunt hit, he induced Maikel Franco's groundball double play to end the inning.
In the third inning, after a leadoff walk and two-out base on balls, Franco's liner to center field was caught by Tyler Holt in a nice diving play to preserve his 2-0 lead.
Luck ran out by the fourth inning as Finnegan walked the leadoff batter for the third time. There was a one-out walk also before the first clean hit -- by inches -- came on Tyler Goeddel's two-run triple on the right-field line. Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson's safety squeeze provided the third run.
"They only had one hit that actually did anything. They didn't hurt me at all. I hurt myself," Finnegan said.
Riggleman and pitching coach Mark Riggins decided that four innings was enough for Finnegan.
"He was laboring and the number of pitches in four innings indicates that he's not really having any non-stressful innings there," Riggleman said. "We just felt like weren't going to put him out there, get another base runner and have to take him out. Let's just go ahead and make it now."
Now 1-2 with a 4.40 ERA in eight starts, Finnegan is the lone Reds starter to not miss a game. There was one start of the eight where he didn't give his team a chance to win, and Friday marked the second time he didn't pitch at least five innings.
Most of the time, Finnegan reaches down and finds a way to escape big innings.
"That's just what I have inside me," he said. "I know I have good stuff. I've showed it."
The biggest red flag is that Finnegan's 28 walks are tied for the National League lead. He was not overly concerned, however.
"I've been throwing the ball great," Finnegan said. "Obviously today I didn't throw the ball too well. There's going to be walks. That's baseball. You can't control that. I'm just worried about going up there and getting outs."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. 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.