CINCINNATI -- Since the return of left fielder Ryan Ludwick on Aug. 12, Xavier Paul had started just one game and had five plate appearances for the Reds. That changed Sunday when he started in left field against the Brewers.
Paul received semi-regular playing time sharing left field with Derrick Robinson while both Ludwick and Chris Heisey were injured. He continued to see at-bats once Heisey returned. Playing more reduced his overall production, though, as he came into Sunday batting .167 over his previous 25 games, including 10 starts.
"It hasn't been tough. I've pretty much slid back into that role I was in last year," Paul said. "Getting the start every blue moon just to stay sharp, I think it's necessary sometimes."
Paul has had clutch moments from the bench, including three pinch-hit home runs this season.
"He can be very important," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "All the teams I've been on, you end up winning games off your bench. They either stop a losing streak or create or continue a long winning streak.
"He probably won't start in [the Reds' next series at] St. Louis, but he'll come off the bench big, I'm sure. He's going to be in the equation. Those 0-for-1's are tough, real tough. Most of the time, when those 0-for-1's come, you're probably facing one of the better pitchers on their team out of the bullpen -- like [Edward] Mujica or somebody like that. He's not going to be facing some middle reliever, unless the bases are loaded and we want to try to get runs in the middle part of the ballgame."
Baker started Jack Hannahan -- another bench player -- at third base on Saturday. Hannahan had two hits, including a double, and made a couple of nice defensive plays during the 6-3 win over the Brewers.
"You have to play them sometimes in order to keep them sharp," Baker said. "You can get four at-bats. That's why Hannahan played yesterday. In case I have to double switch, I don't want them to feel foreign on defense. You want them to feel confident."
Arroyo finding his late-season stride
CINCINNATI -- The importance of a pitcher's win total has become a subject of debate in an era of advanced statistics, but they still mean a lot to pitchers like Reds starter Bronson Arroyo.
Arroyo has won each of his last four starts, including Saturday's 6-3 victory over the Brewers, in which he gave up three runs on seven hits over seven-plus innings. This consistent stretch has given the right-hander a 13-9 record and 3.42 ERA in his 26 starts this season. He had 12 wins for all of 2012 and nine in 2011.
In his last four starts, Arroyo owns a 2.33 ERA and has not walked a batter, extending his streak to 29 2/3 innings without issuing a free pass. He's the only Reds pitcher since 1900 to run a streak of four consecutive starts with no walks and at least six strikeouts in each game. This stretch has come on the heels of his worst start of the season -- seven runs in 3 2/3 innings in a 13-3 loss to the Cardinals on Aug. 2.
"It's been a great run for me," said Arroyo, who won a career-best 17 games in 2010. "I always look for one of these runs late in the season. It usually happens in August or September where I can catch three, four wins in a row. My schedule is going to get a bit tougher now in Colorado [on Friday] and with St. Louis coming back here. It's been nice to take the four wins that I felt I should do."
The longest-tenured Reds player with his 2006 arrival, and in the final year of his three-year, $35 million contract extension, Arroyo has been a stopper even though he's not the staff ace. The Reds are 10-1 this season in games Arroyo starts after a team loss. Arroyo, 36, has a 7-1 record in those contests.
"There's definitely a bit of pressure there, when you know if you lose, the ballclub is going to kind of be in a somber mood," Arroyo said. "You then have to hand that responsibility to someone else, who is going to have to try and dig us deeper out of a downhill slide. It's always been fun for me to pitch on days after we've won ballgames. It's just a coincidence I've won so many of them. It makes it a little more satisfying."
• The Reds made expected roster moves official on Sunday when lefty starter Tony Cingrani was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain. To replace Cingrani for Sunday's start, the Reds selected the contract of right-hander Greg Reynolds from Triple-A Louisville. To clear a 40-man roster spot for Reynolds, reliever Jonathan Broxton (right forearm surgery) was placed on the 60-day DL.
• Sunday's crowd at Great American Ball Park -- the 64th home contest of the season -- is expected to push the Reds' attendance to over two million fans for 2013. It's the fewest number of games in which the Reds have reached two million in stadium history. The 1976 Reds reached two million fans within 56 home dates at Riverfront Stadium.