Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Drew Storen throws in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles, Tuesday, April 18, 2017, in Cincinnati. The Reds won 9-3. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Cincinnati Reds reliever joins exclusive club

“I’ll take the strikeouts anytime I can get them,” Storen said.

Storen got his wish Tuesday. He became the fourth pitcher in Reds history and 76th player in baseball history to strike out the side on nine pitches. He did it in the ninth inning of a 9-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles at Great American Ball Park.

“Honestly, after the second hitter, I knew I had a possibility of doing it,” Storen said. “It’s something as a bullpen guy you always aim for. We don’t have the opportunity to get perfect games, so I guess it’s as close as we can get. It’s kind of a cool thing.”

The last Red to accomplish the feat was Carlos Contreras in 2014. Hod Eller (1917) and Rob Dibble (1989) are the other Reds in the exclusive club.

“I had no idea just how rare it was,” Storen said. “You see guys get close to it. To see there’s been only three guys to do it (in Reds history), it’s really special. It’s just one of those things that’s hard to do, especially with how talented these hitters are. To go out there for one inning and execute the way you want to every time, it’s pretty lucky.”

Storen struck out Jonathan Schoop, J.J. Hardy and pinch hitter Hyun Soo Kim.

“Not all those pitches would have been called strikes,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “There’s also a deception portion to that. He was able to present pitches that looked like strikes.”

Storen, a free agent signed to a one-year contract in January, lowered his ERA to 1.23. He has thrown 7 1/3 innings and made seven appearances. He allowed one earned run in a 10-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on April 8 and has since thrown four straight scoreless innings.

Storen came to the Reds with 98 career saves in four seasons with the Washington Nationals and one with the Toronto Blue Jays. He brings experience to a young bullpen.

“It allows me to feel more comfortable utilizing (Raisel) Iglesias and (Michael) Lorenzen early in the game,” Price said. “If you have somebody who’s closed before, it doesn’t feel like I’m exposing us if I use those two in high-leverage situations early in the game, knowing I have Drew to throw the ninth if needed.”

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