By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — As a doctor always asks, “Which do you want first, the good news or the bad news?”
First, the bad news. Cody Reed didn’t win his sixth major league start and is still winless.
Now, the good news. Cody Reed didn’t lose, didn’t see his record fall to 0-and-5.
His night ended with an unsatisfactory, “No decision.”
But the 23-year-old Cincinnati Reds rookie left hander with the Space Cadet glasses gained some valuable confidence and injected some self-esteem.
THE REDS LOST TO THE woebegone Atlanta Braves, 5-4 in 11 innings, but Reed didn’t give up an earned run while working hard for six innings and turned a tie game over to the bullpen.
The Braves scored two unearned runs off Reed in the second inning via an error by third baseman Eugenio Suarez and nothing more. Reed pitched nothing like a guy with a 0-and-4 record over his five starts with an 8.39 earned run average.
“He wasn’t sharp to begin with, but he finished strong and that’s a great stepping stone for him,” said manager Bryan Price. “And you need those reminders, reminders that you are a good player. He is very talented. That’s why I don’t like to talk about Cody going back to Triple-A. He is a major league pitcher and we need to give him the opportunity to breathe a little bit up here and show what he can do.”
REED HAS HIS OWN support group — his elder statesmen teammates like Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Zack Cozart and Ross Ohlendorf.
“I talk to some of the older guys and they tell me, ‘Relax, you are going to be here a long time,’” said Reed. “Those guys were here when they were 23 and I’m sure they struggled at times — probably not as much as I have so far — but it happens,” said Reed. “They talk to me, tell me to keep working and keep my confidence up, tell me I’m going to be here for a long time. And, yes, it is important for me to keep my confidence up.”
The first time through the order the Braves were pounding the baseball hard, but most were caught.
“The first nine hitters I had the Braves hitting five balls right on the barrel,” said Price. “From that point on, they had one on the barrel, one ball they hit really hard against him. That’s a great sign. He slowed his tempo down and started to breathe a little bit more. He wasn’t muscling the ball. That was a real strong to finish to his outing, one we want to see a lot more of and I think we will.”
WHEN REED LEFT AFTER six the score was 2-2, the Reds scoring a pair off 23-year-old Atlanta rookie Tyrell Jenkins on Jay Bruce’s two-run home run in the first.
Michael Lorenzen replaced Reed in the seventh and walked the first batter he faced, No. 8 hitter Erick Aybar, on four straight pitches. With one out, Braves leadoff hitter Gordon Beckham drilled Lorenzen’s first pitch into the left field seats, breaking the tie and pushing the Braves in front, 4-2.
With half of major league baseball teams represented by scouts to watch Jay Bruce and Zack Cozart, Bruce made a good statement with his two-run first inning home run. But in both the fifth and the eighth Bruce hit into 3-6-3 double plays with Joey Votto on base both times. Vote walked his first three times and singled his fourth time.
THlE REDS TIED IT IN the bottom of the ninth against Braves closer Jim Johnson with a pair of runs. Eugenio Suarez opened the inning with a single, his third hit, and Ramon Cabrera doubled inside the third base bag to put runners on third and second.
Pinch-hitter Tucker Barnhart grounded to short to score one run. Zack Cozart drove one to left field to tie it but was out trying to stretch the hit into a double. Billy Hamilton beat an infield hit to shortstop and was the winning run. But he broke for second too soon and was thrown out as the Reds made two of their three outs in the ninth on the basepaths.
The Braves scored the run they needed to win in the top of the 11th. Nick Markakis singled off Tony Cingrani to open the inning. Blake Wood replaced Cingrani and gave up a single to Jeff Francoeur, who had struck out three times. That puts runners on third and first with no outs and Markakis scored the game-winner on Ender Inciarte’s sacrifice fly to center.
The night, though, on the Cincinnati side, belonged to Reed.
“I’m just trying to keep my confidence level up,” said Reed. “I need to be a little more efficient because I threw too many pitches early in the game for my liking. But my stuff was working.
“The first two innings I was working too quick, just rushing a little bit and I talked to (pitching coach) Mack Jenkins and he told me, ‘Your tempo could be better.’ So I just took some deep breaths and worked hard for the next four innings. This is a long process for me, I guess, but I hope to get the ball in five days and try to do the same thing.”