Hometown boy Wood delivers out of 'pen in win

Right-hander throws two scoreless innings, striking out three

Hometown boy Wood delivers out of 'pen in win

ATLANTA -- With family and friends in attendance at Turner Field, Reds reliever Blake Wood toed the rubber Monday night looking to slow down a Braves offense that tallied seven runs through the game's first five innings. Despite the heat and ongoing slugfest his team was engaged in, Reds manager Bryan Price knew he could count on the right-hander.

Wood, an Atlanta native, responded to his manager's call, throwing two scoreless innings and striking out three batters in Cincinnati's 9-8 win over the Braves.

"We knew when we brought him in in the sixth that it was going to be a two-inning outing, and he's done that a few times for us well," Price said. "I'm really happy because he gave us exactly what we had to have."

The outing marked yet another multi-inning performance by the veteran reliever, who hasn't surrendered a run in any of the five outings where he's pitched two full frames.

"The manager wants to know what he's going to get when he calls down to the bullpen," Wood said, "And I feel like I've been able to provide that lately."

The 30-year-old's 3.51 ERA is the best mark among any of the team's regular relievers. His 33 1/3 innings are also his most in the Majors since 2011.

When the Reds signed Wood this past offseason, he hadn't pitched in the big leagues since 2014. He pitched for the Pirates in Triple-A a season ago, but he never received the call to the big leagues.

Now, the former third-round pick is thriving in Cincinnati.

"You know, sometimes the situation is right, and you just hope when you're able to get the opportunity that you're able to perform well," Wood said. "Last year, there was just no opportunity there, and this year there has been. Luckily, I've been consistent, for the most part, and performing well."

Wood has proven to be the Reds' most reliable option out of a bullpen that has struggled mightily this season. Prior to Monday's win, Cincinnati's relievers had posted a 6.48 ERA, which is worst in the Majors.

Those struggles continued against the Braves, as the Reds' bullpen allowed two home runs to push their season total to a Major League-leading 48. But the long ball hasn't plagued Wood, whose 62 2/3 consecutive innings without surrendering a homer is the longest active streak by a pitcher in the Majors.

"The main thing is just going one pitch at a time," Wood said. "It's very cliché, but it's taken a long time in my career to be able to actually do that while I'm on the mound -- to not think about stuff that might happen or that can happen.

"You just try to execute a pitch, then you just try to execute another one, and then keep doing that until they take you out of the game."

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