Straily settles in, finds quality-start groove

Straily settles in, finds quality-start groove

CINCINNATI -- The fourth pitch Dan Straily threw on Friday night landed on the grassy knoll just above the center-field wall at Great American Ball Park. The next batter he faced doubled to left field. Five batters into the game, he and the Reds were trailing the D-backs by 2.

Over the next five innings, Straily gave Arizona a couple of opportunities, but no more runs, as the Reds opened the three-game series with a 6-2 victory. Straily allowed just two runs on five hits, walking three while striking out eight as he improved his record to 5-6. He has now tossed four straight quality starts and leads the team with 11 quality starts in 18 tries.

The right-hander, who was claimed on waivers at the end of Spring Training, is now giving the Reds an opportunity to win more often than not when he takes the mound.

"He's been one of our best, most consistent starting pitchers," said manager Bryan Price. "He had a little bit of a [bad] run there leading up to the half, but he's come out of the half throwing the ball really well. I think he has a very good understanding of how to pitch."

Straily followed up his rough first inning, in which D-backs leadoff hitter Jean Segura homered off of him and then Michael Bourn doubled and eventually scored, by striking out the side in the second. He hit Segura with a pitch to lead off the third but then struck out Bourn and got All-Star Paul Goldschmidt to hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Straily strikes out the side

Straily worked his way out of a two-out, bases-loaded situation in the fourth inning, then did perhaps his best pitching of the night in the fifth with the Reds holding a 3-2 lead.

Segura singled and moved to second base on a balk. Straily stranded him there by striking out Bourn looking, getting Goldschmidt to pop out to third baseman Eugenio Suarez and then striking out Jake Lamb looking.

"I know I got away with a pitch to Goldschmidt when he popped up to third base. I feel fortunate for that. You leave a good hitter that kind of pitch, so I feel good," said Straily. "I had a good battle with Lamb. Tuck (catcher Tucker Barnhart) came out and said, 'We're going with the changeup. However long the at-bat goes, we're going with the changeup.' It lasted one more pitch."

The Nos. 2-6 hitters for Arizona were a combined 1-for-12 against Straily.

"He just uses his slider. He's tough to pick up. His velocity's not overwhelming, but he's tough to pick up," said Arizona manager Chip Hale. "You can tell that guys have a hard time differentiating fastballs, slider in. He uses his changeup, even to right-handers, very well. He did a nice job settling down and just did a great job with us."

Kevin Goheen is a contributor for based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.