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Sampson notches solid first career start

Right-hander says making one-inning debut Thursday helped for Sunday's outing

CINCINNATI -- Right-hander Keyvius Sampson started off sharp on Sunday by retiring the first seven batters he faced, but things got rocky from there as the Pirates spoiled his first career start with a 3-0 victory over the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

Sean Rodriguez snapped the early perfect-game bid with a double that started off a two-run top of the third for the Pirates. Sampson would also give up a solo homer in the fourth inning, finishing the day with three runs surrendered on three hits and one walk across five innings.

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"I feel OK about it," said Sampson, who also notched six strikeouts on Sunday. "I know there is always room to improve. I can do better [in] my next bullpen or whatever I'm doing. Just going to work on things and be more consistent as far as my breaking stuff."

Sampson came in for one inning of relief work earlier in the series on Thursday to make his Major League debut. The 24-year-old rookie was able to retire all three Pirates he faced on Thursday, with a pair of strikeouts.

Video: PIT@CIN: Sampson fans Florimon in Major League debut

He said getting his Major League debut out of the way played a role in the quick start on Sunday.

"I think so for sure, just getting my feet wet," Sampson said. "They knew what they were doing when they did that. Just giving me one inning to get all of the jitters out, and then today I was a little bit more calm and not too nervous. I think it helped out quite a bit actually."

Sampson became the fifth straight rookie to start for the Reds for the first time since Sept. 15-18, 1935, according to STATS. He was also the 12th Reds pitcher to start a game this season.

Manager Bryan Price sent Kyle Waldrop to pinch-hit for Sampson in the bottom of fifth inning -- ending his day at only 79 pitches -- but he was pleased with his outing on Sunday. Price had said it was going to be a "spot start" with no guarantees of Sampson getting another start, but with a hole in the rotation, Sampson could see more action moving forward.

"He did good, he showed good stuff and he was around the plate," Price said. "He showed a four-pitch mix around the plate. I thought he had great composure for a guy making his [starting] debut. I was very impressed with the way he threw the baseball, and we look forward to seeing a lot more of Keyvius."

Robert Bondy is an associate reporter for
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