Finnegan breaks schneid with strong start

Lefty holds potent Nats lineup to one run to snap 8-start winless streak

Finnegan breaks schneid with strong start

CINCINNATI -- Reds starting pitcher Brandon Finnegan fell just two outs short in Saturday's 7-2 win over Washington of setting a season best for the Reds' rotation.

After both Alfredo Simon and John Lamb went seven innings against the Rockies, Finnegan could have made it the first time all season that the Reds had three straight starts of seven or more innings.

While it was close but no cigar for Finnegan in setting the Reds' season high, it's hard to discredit his 6 1/3 innings of one-run, five-hit ball that helped send the Reds to their third straight win.

"You win with starting pitching shortening the game and then having guys at the back end of the game that are comfortable pitching with a lead or a small margin," manager Bryan Price said. "There was a little bit bigger margin tonight, but they did a nice job."

Finnegan also shed a personal burden on Saturday, getting his first victory -- as well as the Reds' first win in a game he started -- since April 16. The slump spanned eight outings and included three quality starts.

"Not going to win every game," Finnegan said. "As long as the team wins, that's all that matters to me. As long as I can go out there and keep us in the game for as long as I can, that's what's important, really. Wins and losses, they're going to happen, they'll come."

It's impressive that both Simon and Lamb were able to last seven innings against the Rockies in the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field, but Finnegan's was impressive in its own right, as it came against another potent lineup that contains Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy. Finnegan held them a combined 1-for-6 with no RBIs.

He was able to do so without relying on strikeouts, either. He fanned only two Nationals over his 6 1/3 innings -- one of whom was opposing starter Gio Gonzalez -- something Price said Finnegan is learning as he transitions from being a reliever with Kansas City to a starter.

"Pitch in the zone early, it doesn't benefit anybody to constantly be 1-0, 2-0," Price said. "I mean, those are bad counts to be in on a consistent basis. The other part is he's learning how to pitch, really learning how to pitch. As a reliever, you learn, but he limited himself to fastball, slider. Here, it's both sides of the plate. It's the breaking ball, throwing a breaking ball for a strike behind in the count. It's being able to utilize that changeup."

For the Reds, the deep outings by the starters bring a huge reprieve, given that the much-beleaguered bullpen has gone through stretches this season where it's been called upon early in games and has gotten pounded.

"Last few starts for all our starters, we've been going deeper in the game, that's something big," Finnegan said. "We need to give our 'pen a lot of rest. Because they got pounded pretty hard pretty early. Us going deeper into the games is definitely important. It's not going to happen [every game], but we've got to continue to try to do it."

Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.