WASHINGTON -- Brandon Finnegan first took his lumps and then took some blame. The young Reds starting pitcher didn't give much credit, however, to the Nationals, even after they dealt him and his club a 13-4 defeat on Thursday.
"You know, I gave them their runs, they didn't earn them," Finnegan said. "That's how the night went."
In the shortest start of his brief big league career, Finnegan lasted 2 1/3 innings and allowed a career-high eight earned runs with five hits. He also equaled his career high with five walks, something he has done three times this season.
Now 3-7 with a 4.48 ERA in 17 starts this season, the 23-year-old Finnegan saw his ERA jump from 3.83 in the outing.
"Brandon, I have to say, has been probably our best competitor in the starting rotation. It just wasn't his day," Reds manager Bryan Price said.
Finnegan's night started ominously with a four-pitch walk to Michael Taylor in the first. The second batter, Jayson Werth, just missed a two-run homer with a ball that went over a leaping Adam Duvall's glove. It took Finnegan 37 pitches to get through the inning. He faced eight batters, allowed four runs, three hits, two walks and Ryan Zimmerman's three-run homer to straightaway center field, slugged on a fastball over the plate.
Two walks to open the third inning led to a rare mound visit from Price where the pitcher wasn't lifted. Usually it's pitching coach Mark Riggins who makes the first visit to help fix issues.
"Every manager I have ever worked for as a pitching coach has made similar trips ... because they want to gauge the temperature of the starter and want to say something that's a little more pointed and direct," Price said. "I just wanted to remind him what he needed to do better. Probably no different than anything Mark had said all day, but it just feels sometimes it adds more emphasis if I make that visit."
Three batters later, a one-out grand slam by Danny Espinosa on a rising 92-mph fastball expedited Finnegan's exit.
"You all saw the game. Not much to say about it -- just definitely my worst outing of the year, of my life, honestly," Finnegan said. "I just have to get ready for my next start."
In his previous five starts this month, Finnegan had a 3.19 ERA -- with four of the outings going at least six innings. However, Cincinnati has lost each of his last three starts and four of the last five.
Finnegan acknowledged that he lacked fastball command and couldn't induce swings with his slider.
"The issue, more than anything, was he didn't really have one pitch he could go to. Sometimes as a starter, you just have to milk a pitch," Price said. "It just wasn't there and it made for a real tough situation and subsequently a short start."
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.