Fay: Reds could have won game against Cubs, but Price won't lose sleep over it

CINCINNATI -- Reds manager Bryan Price knew it was coming.

"It's a second-guesser's delight," Price said.

Price stayed with Michael Lorenzen to face Anthony Rizzo with two outs in the ninth inning, even though he had Wandy Peralta warmed up. Rizzo hit the first pitch -- a 96 mph fastball -- out to right for a three-run homer to tie it.

The Cubs went on to win it 6-5 in 11 innings.

Twitter blew up before the ball had landed. Price's intelligence and sanity were questioned by the aggrieved fans in Redsland, but Price did not second-guess himself.

"I had the best guy I had in our bullpen to face the Cubs in the ninth with a three-run lead," he said. "He just didn't get it done. I won't lose any sleep over the decisions. It's a tough one to lose. But there's nothing I'm second-guessing."

For the record, I agree with Price here. Lorenzen was the guy. He got beat. It happens. Price has done a masterful job of managing the bullpen, despite the heaviest workload in the majors. The Reds came in with the second best bullpen ERA in the National League.

Price says he never considered Peralta.

"Wandy would have been in there if they had taken the lead," he said. "It was really more about total pitchers. It was a two-inning outing for Michael. If the pitch count got way up there, we would have had Wandy as a backdrop. It wasn't a situation where I was trying to get to Wandy for a matchup.

"I had the right guy in there. Rizzo hit a homer. What can you do?"

Until that point, it was shaping up as an uplifting win. Tim Adleman went six innings and allowed two runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out seven. Drew Storen escaped trouble in the seventh, and Lorenzen escaped trouble in the eighth.

Lorenzen gave up a single to pinch hitter Miguel Montero to start the ninth. Albert Almora Jr. struck out. Then Kyle Schwarber blooped a double into left. Kris Bryant popped meekly to shortstop.

Price is using an unconventional approach to the bullpen. He used Raisel Iglesias for two innings Thursday. His best left-hander choice, Tony Cingrani, went on the disabled list Friday.

Lorenzen was clearly the best option after Storen was used. The fact that Lorenzen threw 22 pitches in the eighth did not concern Price. Lorenzen, Storen and Iglesias all have saves.

"If Michael is going to share in that responsibility, then that game is his," Price said. "One out, one pitch away from being out of the game and he gives up a three-run homer."

Lorenzen obviously took the loss hard. He didn't second-guess the pitch.

"I threw it with conviction," he said. "He got me. Tip your hat to him. He's good hitter."

The defeat was soul-crushing because it was the Cubs, whom the Reds lost 15 of 19 against last year, and because it was such a winnable game.

"What sucks is our team played so good," Lorenzen said. "We played really good baseball. We fight to the end and literally the last out. You feel like you let your team down. That's the worst feeling you can have as a teammate."

John Fay is a freelance sports columnist; this column represents his opinion. Contact him at johnfayman@aol.com.

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