CINCINNATI -- Through six games as Reds interim manager, Jim Riggleman has shown he isn't afraid to pull a starting pitcher early and go for it with his bullpen. But a quick hook of starter Brandon Finnegan didn't work out on Wednesday, as Cincinnati fell in a 5-4 loss to the Braves on a ninth-inning double by Johan Camargo.
Finnegan had 77 pitches through five innings, allowing three runs (two earned). But after the Reds scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a one-run lead, Riggleman pulled Finnegan in favor of Austin Brice.
It was a bold move, given that Cincinnati had only three fresh arms in the bullpen after Tuesday's 12-inning game, in which Jared Hughes threw 42 pitches and Amir Garrett threw 39. Closer Raisel Iglesias worked the previous two games, as did lefty set-up man Wandy Peralta. That left only Brice, Kevin Shackelford and Dylan Floro available.
"I just kind of react to the situation. I don't have any particular thoughts on it," Riggleman said. "You just kind of use your instincts as to when you think you need to get somebody out of there. Tonight, I really felt like we had four people we were going to use -- Finnegan, Brice, Shackelford and Floro."
Brice delivered two scoreless innings, including a perfect sixth. In the seventh, he gave up a one-out single and a two-out intentional walk.
"I knew it was going to be a situation to get out there and eat up as much as I could," Brice said.
Shackelford -- in his season debut after coming off of the disabled list -- was unable to preserve the lead in the eighth inning. Three singles, including a two-out RBI hit by Kurt Suzuki, scored Ronald Acuna Jr. with the tying run. Shackelford began the ninth by hitting Ozzie Albies with a pitch. Freddie Freeman followed with a single into center field -- forcing Riggleman to summon Floro in a double switch for shortstop Jose Peraza.
Nick Markakis hit a potential double-play grounder to shortstop, but the out call at first base was overturned on review. With runners on the corners and one out, the Reds brought the infield in before Camargo bounced a ball past the backhanded glove of new shortstop Cliff Pennington. It went for a double that scored Albies with the winning run.
"With the part of the order that was coming up for Atlanta, to have Iglesias facing those guys on his third day, I felt like then I definitely wouldn't have him for [Thursday] and we might be wasting an effort there," Riggleman said. "Third day in a row right now, the way Markakis and Freeman are swinging, it's going to be tough."
Finnegan gave up an unearned run on a Scooter Gennett throwing error in a 25-pitch first inning. Camargo's two-out RBI double in the third inning and a one-out solo homer off of the left-field foul pole by Albies gave Atlanta a 3-0 lead.
Atlanta didn't score again off of Finnegan, as he gave up three runs (two earned), seven hits and one walk with four strikeouts.
"I definitely wanted to go out. I'm not a five-and-dive guy. Riggleman said it would be smart. I'm not going to argue with him," Finnegan said. "We've been playing really good. I trust our 'pen with the way they've been pitching. It was a tough one tonight."
Reds starting pitchers have averaged 5 1/3 innings since Riggleman took over for Bryan Price on Friday. Finnegan went only three innings in his previous start, on Riggleman's first day. On Saturday, Homer Bailey was lifted with 96 pitches over 5 2/3 innings and three runs allowed.
"Certainly, you want your starter to go deep," Riggleman said. "Last night, we had a guy [Tyler Mahle] throwing a no-hitter. You get to the seventh inning and they got him. You just cut him off after the sixth and it would appear like you have a really quick hook. But Mahle wouldn't have given up those three runs."
Cincinnati missed scoring chances in the first and third innings against Braves starter Matt Wisler. In the bottom of the fifth, Jesse Winker got the big inning started with a leadoff walk. Two batters later, Joey Votto slugged his second homer in two nights. Adam Duvall kept the rally alive with a two-out walk and scored on Scott Schebler's double off the wall in left-center field. Tucker Barnhart's broken-bat double down the right-field line against Wisler plated Schebler.
It didn't prove to be quite enough, as the 5-19 Reds saw a quick two-game win streak end.
"Shack did a good job. When you're pitching, you're allowed to give up runs," Riggleman said. "They gave up one. It turned out to be too much tonight, because we weren't able to get them. But the guys were getting after it, running balls out real good. I'm very happy with the way the ballclub is going about things. We're getting closer to turning it around."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Missed chances haunt Reds: The Reds began the bottom of the first inning with three straight singles from Winker, Peraza and Votto. But the rally evaporated quickly, as Gennett hit a shallow fly ball to center field and Duvall grounded into a double play. With the bases loaded and one out in the seventh against Jesse Biddle, Barnhart and pinch-hitter Billy Hamilton struck out.
"We made things a little tough for Brandon Finnegan early, so we got behind a little," Riggleman said. "We did miss some opportunities. But we did put four up to come back even though we missed a couple and then after that, we missed a chance to add on. It came back to bite us. Their pitchers did a good job."
HE SAID IT
"You've got to realize: I really haven't pitched in a year. My arm and my body are getting used to that toll. The thing that me and [pitching coach] Danny [Darwin] have been working on is going to help -- keeping my hands low. I'm not drifting as much. I'm not lagging behind with my arm. That showed tonight." -- Finnegan, on his third start of the season since returning from the disabled list
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
When the Reds scored the tying run in the fifth inning, it was with the aid of a replay challenge. With Duvall on first base and two outs, Schebler drove a double to the wall in left-center field. Ender Inciarte made a nice play off the carom and as Duvall was waved home by third-base coach Billy Hatcher, the relay throw from Dansby Swanson easily beat him to the plate. But the sliding Duvall got his foot on the plate before catcher Carlos Perez could make the tag. Although called out by home-plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth, replay officials overturned the call and that made it a 3-3 game.
The Reds get a chance for their first series win of the season when they host the finale vs. the Braves at 12:35 p.m. ET Thursday. It will mark the first time Bailey has faced Atlanta since the 2014 season. Bailey, who has a 3.68 ERA despite an 0-4 record, leads the rotation with three quality starts.