It was difficult, though, to determine which team was on a bullpen night. Reds starter Tony Santillan lasted only three innings.
Reds manager David Bell ended up using seven relief pitchers, everybody in the bullpen but Cionel Perez.
The Padres started relief pitcher Craig Stammen, the University of Dayton product from Versailles and followed him with seven relief pitchers.
Santillan, struggling with command that led to a high pitch count, gave up thee runs and six hits for his three innings.
“He was just missing with some pitches,” said Reds manager David Bell. “He was getting behind early, then got back into counts. From that standpoint, I thought he did a good job. He jwas just missing and that was the difference because it got his pitch count up.”
Cincinnati’s seven relief pitchers — Ryan Hendrix, Josh Osich, Art Warren, Amir Garrett, Sean Doolittle, Brad Brach, Heath Hembree — held the Padres to two runs and six hits over six innings.
The only two runs, the fatal two, came from Hendrix who replaced Santillan in the fourth. The first batter he faced, Tommy Pham, hit a home run and Trent Grisham stroked a run-scoring single.
“Our bullpen, man, just a great job they did to give us an opportunity,” said Bell. “That’s a good team we’re playing. We found that out in San Diego.”
Brach, originally drafted by the Padres, pitched a scoreless eighth inning against his former team.
“We’ve been so close to turning the corner lately in the bullpen,” said Brach. “Just put up zeros and give your offense a chance is all you can ask for.
“We’re here to win baseball games, that’s what we’re paid to do and it’s great that we play San Diego tough, but we’re here to win games,” he added. “Those are the kinds of games you have to win to get to the playoffs. And that’s a playoff team over there (San Diego). It is frustrating to come up so close every time we’ve played them and come up short.”
The Padres have won 10 of their last 11 and the streak began with a four-game sweep of the Reds in San Diego. The Reds fell back to .500 at 39-39 and are a season-high seven games behind first place Milwaukee.
After spotting the Padres a 5-1 lead in the fourth inning, the Reds sneaked back to within one when Jesse Winker, 4 for 31, uncorked a 410-foot two-run home run in the fifth.
But the parade of relief pitchers on both sides kept it art 5-4. The Reds last opportunity in the ninth was a 1-2-3 inning by Padres closer Mark Melancon for his 25th save in 28 opportunities.
Sonny Gray is scheduled to come off the injured list and return to the rotation Friday night against the Chicago Cubs.
That means Tyler Mahle is pushed back to Saturday and Wade Miley to Sunday.
With Gray’s return, the Reds have six starters — Gray, Mahle, Miley, Luis Castillo, Vladmir Gutierrez and Tony Santillan.
Manager David Bell said the Reds will not go with a six-man rotation, but the odd man to the bullpen has not been determined.
“There is no plan to stay with a six-man rotation,” said Bell. “We’ll definitely have to make that decision soon. It hasn’t been made yet, so I’d rather wait until we talk it through. If one of our starters is one of our best 13 or 14 guys (pitchers), then it will be the consideration to put them in the bullpen.”
It is most likely that Santillan, after his not-so-good performance Tuesday and the pitcher with the least experience, will be the one relegated to the bullpen.