CINCINNATI -- Complete-game shutouts are already rarities at Great American Ball Park. Beyond that, the Reds had every reason to appreciate Scott Feldman's four-hitter Sunday for a 4-0 victory and a three-game series sweep.
Cincinnati's rotation entered the day with the worst ERA and least amount of innings pitched in the Major Leagues. The last Reds pitcher to throw a shutout at home was Johnny Cueto on April 16, 2014. For Feldman to not only defeat Cueto and go the distance, he had to lobby manager Bryan Price since he planned to pull him after eight innings.
"I just asked him if it was negotiable or not," Feldman said. "A lot of times, it's not even negotiable so don't even bother. He showed some confidence in me, which was nice."
Especially with the rotation struggling to go deep, Price has been aggressive this season in using his bullpen. At different points during the late innings Sunday, he had Michael Lorenzen, Wandy Peralta and Raisel Iglesias warming up. But Feldman had given up Eduardo Nunez's leadoff double in the eighth and left him stranded.
"You see the finish line so close and get a little extra adrenaline, too," said Feldman, who gave up one walk, hit a batter and struck out five. "I felt like I got a little bit of a second wind there in the eighth inning when I stranded that runner. I felt like I had a lot left in the tank."
The Reds came into the day with a 1-5 record in games Feldman started. His previous start was his worst of the season -- seven earned runs over four innings. Following that game, catchers Devin Mesoraco and Tucker Barnhart implored him to be more aggressive and trust his sinker.
According to Statcast™, Feldman relied on his sinker 42 times and picked up the ground balls he was seeking. Of his last 15 outs, 12 were recorded on the ground. It was his fifth complete game and the third shutout of his career. His last shutout was Aug. 30, 2014, for the Astros. He hadn't thrown more than seven innings since he pitched eight innings for Houston on Aug. 24, 2015.
"The last couple of games, I kind of got away from strengths a little bit. I tried to pitch more to hitters' weaknesses than to my strengths a little bit," Feldman said. "Today, I really had a good game plan with Tuck going in."
Price, and pitching coach Mack Jenkins, felt that Feldman earned the right to finish his start.
"First of all, he's very pitch efficient. Second of all, he's a veteran," Price said. "We had all the bullpen intact. He just never really got himself into too much trouble. ... You want the young pitchers to learn, but the veterans, you have to treat them like a veteran. You can't bring a veteran pitcher here and then try to cover them with all of your young studs down in the bullpen every time there's a little bit of trouble."
The struggling Giants, who were outscored 31-5 during the series, were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position vs. Feldman.
"He was good, but to be honest, it's hard to say how good because, boy, we've really struggled here with the bats," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "[We] scored five runs in a three-game series, I didn't see that coming. We just couldn't drive a run in. We just had trouble getting things going. But no, he threw a great game, a shutout."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. 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.