WASHINGTON -- Following back-to-back short starts and a 15-inning game earlier this week, the Reds badly needed a strong quality start to preserve their bullpen. Anthony DeSclafani obliged on Friday vs. the Nationals.
What manager Bryan Price and bullpen didn't want was the game to extend into multiple extra innings. Although Reds relievers put in an intrepid effort, they still wound up in the losing column with a 3-2 defeat in 14 innings on Ben Revere's walk-off RBI double against Ross Ohlendorf.
"Baseball can be very unforgiving, it really can," said Price, whose club has lost five straight and nine of its last 10. "When you need a blow, when you get a good start and you think it's going to save your bullpen and you end up playing another seven, seven-plus innings beyond your starter after a short start, it's a bad combination."
On Tuesday vs. the Cubs, the bullpen provided eight shutout, hitless innings of relief until J.J. Hoover gave up five runs in the top of the 15th -- including a grand slam -- in a 7-2 loss. On Wednesday vs. Chicago, Cody Reed lasted four innings in a 9-2 loss and reliever Keyvius Sampson threw 73 pitches in 2 2/3 innings. In Thursday's 13-4 defeat to Washington, Brandon Finnegan worked a career-low 2 1/3-inning start. Josh Smith followed with 1 2/3 innings and Michael Lorenzen had three scoreless innings.
Nevertheless, the bullpen was up for the challenge in extras on Friday. Price got 2 1/3 scoreless innings with one hit from Raisel Iglesias. Tony Cingrani had one hit allowed over his two scoreless innings before giving way to Ohlendorf, who pitched scoreless 12th and 13th innings.
"We had Ohlendorf out there for a third inning, which we didn't want to do," Price said. "We were really limited with what we had left in the bullpen. He gutted it out. He was almost able to pitch out of that and send it to the 15th."
Before the 14th, the Reds' bullpen had combined for a season-high 10 consecutive scoreless innings -- beginning with Lorenzen's work on Thursday. Ohlendorf hadn't worked into a third inning, he said, since last season in Triple-A.
Ohlendorf started by hitting Danny Espinosa with a 1-0 pitch. With two outs and Espinosa on second base, Revere hit Ohlendorf's 40th pitch of the night -- a 1-0 fastball -- to end the game.
"Revere did a great job hitting; that last pitch was where I wanted to throw it and he did a great job hitting it," Ohlendorf said. "I wish it would have ended better for us, but it's a fun situation to pitch in."
Cincinnati's bullpen has taken its lumps throughout the season, but has stabilized some recently with improved pitching and the arrivals of Lorenzen and Iglesias. Despite nice outings this week, it hasn't been reflected in the final score.
"It's been the season [that] on a day when we score seven, we give up 10. On the day we hold them two, we score two or one and go into extra innings and lose," Price said. "That's why we have a [29-52] record like this. … So maybe tomorrow's the game we win, 10-1, and everyone's feeling good. That's what we could use. We could use a win and a well-played game."
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.