Long game highlights bullpen's recent success

Long game highlights bullpen's recent success

Long game highlights bullpen's recent success

CINCINNATI -- The Reds' 2-1 win over the Pirates in 13 innings on Wednesday was another strong night for the team's bullpen, as five relievers combined to work six scoreless innings.

Entering Thursday, Cincinnati's bullpen has a 0.47 ERA in its last six games, with one earned run allowed over 19 1/3 innings. Following a period of struggles, the team has a 0.90 ERA -- three earned runs over 30 innings -- in the previous nine games.

"It goes in cycles," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "You're glad you've got the matchups that work. Sometimes, you match them up and it's not working. Or you've got matchups you're hoping that work and it doesn't work."

On Wednesday, lefty Manny Parra earned his first victory of the season after he pitched the 13th inning and allowed only a two-out infield hit.

Parra, who has a 6.00 ERA in 17 appearances, has not allowed a run in any of his last five outings. He has been developing his breaking ball with the aid of fellow lefty reliever Sean Marshall.

"He's got the stuff. I've told him that there a lot of left-handers having success that don't have the stuff he has," Baker said. "They don't throw 91-94 [mph]. It's a matter of location and when you throw stuff. There were a couple of games that I had to match him up out of need that he shouldn't have been in there. That happens, too, if your bullpen is overworked."

The bullpen stumbled in Thursday's 5-3 loss, as Alfredo Simon was charged with the loss after loading the bases in the seventh. He was replaced by Tony Cingrani, who allowed a bases-clearing double to Pedro Alvarez. J.J. Hoover allowed one hit in two innings of relief with three strikeouts.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.