Reds 'pen better, but struggling early in count

Reds 'pen better, but struggling early in count

PITTSBURGH -- One of the reasons the Reds have won six straight series is an improved bullpen. The relief corps stumbled on Friday night in Pittsburgh, though, when right-hander Ross Ohlendorf surrendered a walk-off home run to Sean Rodriguez in the ninth inning, giving the Pirates a 3-2 victory.

After posting ERAs north of 6.00 in April and May and a 4.77 ERA in June, the Reds' bullpen put together a 2.45 ERA in July -- the third lowest in the National League. Through 12 innings in August, the 'pen is at a 3.00 ERA. In their last 48 games, Reds relievers have a 3.39 ERA over 180 1/3 innings, dropping the ERA from 6.71 to 5.17.

One frustrating stat remains: Reds relievers have allowed a home run to the first batter in an inning 23 times this season, a new single-season franchise record. They allowed 20 in 2004 and '09. It's the highest total by a Major League bullpen since '07 when Devil Rays relievers allowed homers to 25 first batters faced.

"Obviously it's frustrating," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I'm going to leave it at that."

George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.