"He saved my bullpen," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "That's a great way to start a road trip. We have eight more to go and those guys are fresh."
The early five-run frame allowed Bailey to pitch aggressively, and he allowed just one run over the final eight innings. The right-hander held the Marlins to a pair of runs on six hits to earn the complete-game win.
"I've had two or three games this year where I felt like I could've gone nine," Bailey said. "Today, we jumped out ahead, and with that kind of lead, I was just trying to be aggressive."
Bailey had thrown 103 pitches through eight innings, and Baker had All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman warming in the bullpen in case his starter could not finish the game. The veteran manager admitted it was difficult to watch Bailey's pitch count climb as he went for his fourth career complete game.
"This guy never wants to come out," Baker said. "His last start, he only went five innings. He struggled some that game. Complete games are hard to come by. Most guys don't care about them, but the competitors do. We were monitoring his pitches and asked him how he felt after the seventh and eighth. He said he was fine and we were keeping an eye on the radar gun, too."
Bailey threw 125 pitches on the night, his last one being a powerful 97-mph fastball that induced a Greg Dobbs lineout to short. The right-hander tied a career high with 10 strikeouts and picked up his first complete game against an opponent other than the Pirates. His previous three were all thrown at PNC Park.
The Reds wasted little time supporting Bailey against Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco, collecting a run on three hits in the first inning. Zack Cozart opened the threat with a one-double and came around to score on a Brandon Phillips single.
But the Marlins answered in the bottom of the first, scoring a run on Derek Dietrich's RBI single. The rookie's base hit drove home Juan Pierre, who doubled to lead off the inning. Dietrich, who had two of the six hits against Bailey, has hit safely in all four big league games to date and turned in his second consecutive multi-hit performance.
Cincinnati's offense continued to succeed against Nolasco, loading the bases in the second thanks to a pair of hits by Ryan Hanigan and Cozart sandwiching Shin-Soo Choo's MLB-leading 12th hit-by-pitch.
The Reds took advantage of some poor command by the Marlins starter, scoring two runs as Nolasco walked both Joey Votto and Phillips with two outs and the bases loaded to give Cincinnati a 3-1 lead.
"One out away, frustrating," Nolasco said. "Been doing a good job of staying away from the one big crooked inning all year. It got me today. Votto gave me a real good at-bat, laid off some good pitches. Pulling the front side with Phillips and the next guy there puts the ball in a good spot there in left with that wind just carrying it that way."
That next guy was Paul. The 28-year-old doubled the Reds' score with a three-run double to left that put them ahead, 6-1.
"Ricky Nolasco usually has great control, and he was off some in that inning," Baker said. "He walked in a couple of runs, which I've never seen him do, and then came that big double by X. I would have liked to score some more, but their bullpen held us down. We'll take a five-run inning any time we could get."
Nolasco settled in, allowing just one hit over the next three innings, but the Reds had already done enough damage to clinch the victory. The right-hander took the loss after allowing six runs on seven hits over five innings.