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Homer shows signs of his vintage form

MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Reds starting pitcher Homer Bailey got some nice defensive backup in the first inning on Monday from Billy Hamilton, who threw to the plate for an inning-ending double play. Bailey felt he had other outside help to retire 16 of the next 17 batters, including 14 in a row.

"Probably just the shadows and luck," Bailey said sarcastically, after he pitched into the seventh inning for a no-decision in the Reds' 5-4 win over the Brewers at Great American Ball Park.

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CINCINNATI -- Reds starting pitcher Homer Bailey got some nice defensive backup in the first inning on Monday from Billy Hamilton, who threw to the plate for an inning-ending double play. Bailey felt he had other outside help to retire 16 of the next 17 batters, including 14 in a row.

"Probably just the shadows and luck," Bailey said sarcastically, after he pitched into the seventh inning for a no-decision in the Reds' 5-4 win over the Brewers at Great American Ball Park.

Full Game Coverage

Bailey's battery mate, catcher Tucker Barnhart, knew it was more than that.

"We mixed it up from the start, to be honest with you," Barnhart said. "A few of his starts this season that have gone the wrong way, I think we've gotten a little fastball happy early. I think we threw a slider [on] the second pitch of the game. We didn't rely as heavily on his fastball early. But as his game went on, it opened up a little bit. He pitched great."

According to Statcast™, 45 of Bailey's 90 pitches were four-seam fastballs that averaged 93.9 mph. He also worked in 18 sliders, 14 changeups and 10 two-seam fastballs.

Bailey's near flawless day ended when Ryan Braun led off the seventh inning with a homer. Following a pair of singles, reliever Michael Lorenzen gave up the game-tying two-out, two-run homer to Orlando Arcia. Bailey was charged with three runs and six hits over six-plus innings with no walks and four strikeouts.

"We were able to hold them at bay for six," Bailey said. "Then, in the seventh, [I] kind of ran out of gas there."

Tweet from @SophiaMinnaert: Broken bat graveyard for Crew vs Homer Bailey. 3 broken for Santana, 1 for Shaw. pic.twitter.com/MyuasVCwla

The Reds rotation has been cooking with gas as of late, with a 2.94 ERA over the last 11 games. All but two of those starts -- both by Bailey -- have been made by rookies Sal Romano, Robert Stephenson, Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle.

"You can definitely see it with some of these young guys coming up," Bailey said. "They've got really good stuff and really know how to pitch. They're really good competitors in how they go about their business. I think the results you're seeing from guys like Sal and Tyler, Luis, these guys are going to be big league pitchers. To see them come up and get their feet wet and stuff like that, they're really doing a great job."

In Bailey's previous start on Wednesday versus the Mets, a 2-0 loss, he threw 73 pitches over six innings -- with three first-inning doubles accounting for two runs. He gave up one single over the final five innings that day. And, on Aug. 22, he worked three scoreless innings against the Cubs before an irritation in his shoulder forced an early exit.

In 14 starts since returning from his third elbow surgery in three years, Bailey is 4-7 with a 7.24 ERA.

"You're only as good as your weakest link. Not that Homer has been [that], but he has not been nearly as consistent and dominant as he was before he started getting injured," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I don't think anyone can realistically expect that 2017 was going to be his best year once he came back. But what we are seeing [now are] glimpses. Today, we saw way better stuff with command.

"That combination is kind of what we're used to [seeing from Homer], especially [back] in 2012-13. It will definitely be something we look forward to him finishing the season with."

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.

Cincinnati Reds, Homer Bailey