Price needs innings from his starters to help overworked bullpen

Bruised egos concerned Price less than a taxed bullpen in the wake of a 14-9 loss Friday to the Blue Jays at Great American Ball Park. The Reds led 8-0 after two innings and 9-3 after five, only to give up 11 runs in the last four innings, including five in the ninth.

The Elias Sports Bureau, not prone to overstatement, wrote, “No living human has seen a game like this.” It wrote this was the first time since 1896 “that a major-league team won a game by a margin of five or more runs after its opponent had opened the scoring by producing at least eight runs in either the first or the second inning.”

That game also featured the Reds. They trailed Brooklyn 9-0 after the first inning and rallied to win 16-10.

So Price was right Friday when he said if you’re around the game long enough, you’ll see something like this. He just didn’t realize it might take 118 years.

The Reds used six relievers Thursday in a 4-3, 12-inning loss to the Pirates and six again Friday. Manny Parra has appeared in five of the last six games. Sam LeCure has pitched in four of the last five games. Aroldis Chapman has pitched in three of the last four.

“A day off for the bullpen would be a huge step in the right direction,” said Price on Saturday before the second game of the series against Toronto. “We need the starters to pitch. If they don’t pitch efficiently, they’re going to have to stay out there. That’s just how it is right now.”

Roster move: The bullpen got some help Saturday when former Dragons reliever Carlos Contreras was called up from Double-A Pensacola on Saturday, taking the roster spot of infielder Roger Bernardina, who was designated for assignment.

Contreras was 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in nine appearances for Pensacola. He made 40 appearances in 2012 for Dayton.

Hot hitters: Billy Hamilton took a career-long nine game hitting streak into Saturday. He has raised his average from .247 on June 9 to .275.

Joey Votto went hitless Friday, snapping a nine-game hitting streak. Since returning from the disabled list, he’s hitting .300 with eight RBIs in 10 games.

Today’s game: Johnny Cueto (6-5, 1.92 ERA) starts the series finale at 1:10 p.m. against R.A. Dickey (6-5, 4.08).

Cueto leads the National League in ERA, complete games (tied with three), innings pitched (108) and opponents’ batting average (.169). He hasn’t pitched past the sixth inning in his last three starts. In his first 12 starters, he pitched into the seventh inning or beyond 11 times.

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