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Reds' bullpen strategy pays off in late victory

Iglesias, Lorenzen contribute to five scoreless innings from 'pen
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- It wasn't a save situation for Raisel Iglesias in the eighth inning of a tied game, but it was a perfect time for Reds manager Bryan Price to try something different with his bullpen usage.

Forget holding back the closer for a save situation. It was best reliever vs. best hitter, Iglesias vs. Paul Goldschmidt. The best reliever won the showdown, as did the bullpen with five scoreless innings in an 11-inning, 4-3 Reds win over the D-backs on Wednesday at Great American Ball Park.

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CINCINNATI -- It wasn't a save situation for Raisel Iglesias in the eighth inning of a tied game, but it was a perfect time for Reds manager Bryan Price to try something different with his bullpen usage.

Forget holding back the closer for a save situation. It was best reliever vs. best hitter, Iglesias vs. Paul Goldschmidt. The best reliever won the showdown, as did the bullpen with five scoreless innings in an 11-inning, 4-3 Reds win over the D-backs on Wednesday at Great American Ball Park.

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"I love that kind of situation, coming into the game facing the best hitter they have," Iglesias said through an interpreter. "I know what I'm capable of doing. That makes me feel like, 'OK, I've got to do my job.'"

With one out in the eighth and nobody on, Price summoned Iglesias to replace left-hander Wandy Peralta. Iglesias fired a 99-mph, 2-2 fastball that was fouled off,  then came back with 99-mph heat again to strike out Goldschmidt. Iglesias had one walk and three strikeouts over 1 2/3 hitless innings.

Price didn't necessarily view the Goldschmidt at-bat as the most important of the game. But mired in a five-game losing streak, Price also wanted to put the game in Iglesias' hands.

"And then you get to the point where you go, 'OK, it's a tie ballgame, and Iggy's going to get his five outs and we're still going to be tied, or we're going to win it.' That was the feeling, and that's how it played out," Price said. "But those are the really hard ones. You never know, as much as we've talked about the bullpen usage and how to use it. It's tough to know when your toughest time is. Your toughest time might be in the fifth or sixth, or it might be in the seventh, eighth or ninth. That's what makes this, doing it and trying the outside-the-box thinking, a little precarious."

Iglesias has a 1.55 ERA in 39 appearances this season.

The game stayed tied through the ninth, and Price turned to his second-best reliever in Michael Lorenzen in extras. It was another situation in which Price managed his bullpen perfectly.

Back in the eighth when Price summoned Iglesias, he double-switched and took out the No. 5 hitter, second baseman Scooter Gennett, the last man to bat in the seventh. Price didn't want to do a second double-switch with the middle of his lineup -- either Joey Votto or Adam Duvall -- to bring Lorenzen in.

It worked so that Lorenzen pitched a perfect top of the 10th and batted for himself to lead off the bottom of the frame. That enabled Lorenzen, a capable hitter, to remain in the game to pitch the critical 11th inning.

"That wasn't necessarily being super smart, but it was good fortune," Price said.

An error put the go-ahead run on first base, and Lorenzen intentionally walked Brandon Drury to get to Jeff Mathis with two outs. Lorenzen threw three straight fastballs without a swing from Mathis to get a called strikeout.

"That's what we live for," Lorenzen said. "Stuff like that in the Major Leagues, pitching in extra innings and trying to keep your team in it. That was a good time, for sure."

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.

Cincinnati Reds, Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen