This is how it’s supposed to work. Strong starting pitching followed by a shutdown bullpen. Following that precise recipe yesterday and today produced a series win against the Arizona Diamondbacks and — no kidding — a winning road trip.

The Reds enter the All-Star Game break with a 39-49 record. That’s good for last place in the NL Central, 9.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. Last year, the Reds were 32-57 at the break.

Starting Friday, the Reds begin a difficult 10-game home stand. They play the Washington Nationals, Arizona Diamondbacks and Miami Marlins. Bryan Price has announced the starting pitcher rotation will be Luis Castillo and Tim Adleman in some order the first two games, then Homer Bailey on Sunday followed by Scott Feldman and Sal Romano.

Cincinnati Reds 2 • Arizona Diamondbacks 1 || Box || Play Log || Statcast

Homer Bailey‘s thrice-repaired elbow is holding so far. He pitched 6.2 innings, with his fastball at 94-95 mph consistently. It reached 97 mph once in the 6th inning. Bailey struck out five but also walked four. He gave up a solo home run to A.J. Pollock in the 3rd inning.

Bailey worked out of extreme trouble in the 6th inning with the help of a great defensive play. After Paul Goldschmidt singled, Bailey walked Jake Lamb. Chris Owings grounded a hit between short and third, but a charging Adam Duvall fired a strike to Tucker Barnhart, cutting down Goldschmidt at the plate. With runners at second and third, Bailey struck out the next two hitters, preserving the 2-1 lead. Bailey also got a K for the third out of the 5th inning with a runner on second. Back-to-back strong outings for Bailey on the road trip.

Michael Lorenzen entered the game at a moment of great drama — with two outs in the 7th inning and two runners on base, facing Paul Goldschmidt. Lorenzen didn’t throw a single fastball in the 8-pitch battle, striking out Goldschmidt on an 88-mph slider. Huge confrontation victory for the Reds reliever. Lorenzen then pitched a shutout 8th. Raisel Iglesias retired the D-Backs in order in the 9th, striking out two. It marked the second day of exceptional bullpen work.

Homer Bailey (!) and Jose Peraza (!!) were the only Reds with 2 hits. They scored on singles by Joey Votto and Scott Schebler.

Peraza has gone 169 plate appearances without a walk, dating back to the first inning on May 21. Eugenio Suarez has walked 26 times since then. Joey Votto has done so 30 times. Peraza has also not hit a double since May.

#FreeWinker. Another missed opportunity to give major league experience to one of the top prospects in the system. Rotating days off for Duvall, Schebler and Billy Hamilton could have given Jesse Winker three games of playing time. Winker pinch hit in the 9th and grounded out.

Two players from Reds minor league affiliates took part in the MLB Futures Game this afternoon at Marlins Park in Miami. Nick Senzel (AA-Pensacola) started for the US team at 3B and went 1-for-3 with a single and RBI. Reliever Jimmy Herget (AAA-Louisville) was also on the American team roster and pitched a clean 8th inning.