Notes: Ramirez optioned to Triple-A

Notes: Ramirez optioned to Triple-A

PHILADELPHIA -- Elizardo Ramirez had one of the best games of his young career on July 27 in Houston, striking out eight and allowing just one run in 6 2/3 innings.

Since then, however, the Reds right-hander hasn't been the same, amassing a 19.13 ERA in three starts and a relief appearance. Before Sunday's game, Ramirez was sent down to Triple-A Louisville.

The move comes two days after the young righty took the loss in emergency relief against the Phillies, as he allowed a run on two hits and two walks in one-third of an inning. And it comes a day after he got back on the mound and lasted just 1 1/3 innings, giving up five runs in Saturday's victory. He lasted exactly 38 pitches in each of his last two starts.

Manager Jerry Narron had one thing in particular that he'd like his young pitcher to work on in his stint with the Bats.

"I think he throws his changeup a little bit too hard," Narron said. "I'd like to see the same arm speed with just a couple of miles an hour off. I think at times, the speed of it is too close to his fastball."

With Ramirez being sent down, it opened up a spot for left-handed reliever Brian Shackelford to rejoin the roster. Shackelford, who turns 30 at the end of the month, is racking up quite the mileage.

He enters his fourth stint with the big club this season. He was sent down on Aug. 1 to make room for reliever Rheal Cormier, who was acquired from the Phillies.

"You just got to roll with the punches and do what you're told," said Shackleford, who is 1-0 with a 6.92 ERA in 21 appearances with Cincinnati this season. "Hope to get a telephone call every now and then."

In addition, Ramirez's departure gives Narron an extra spot to fill in the starting rotation. Chris Michalak had quite the audition Saturday in relief of Ramirez. The 35-year-old lefty pitched 6 2/3 innings, giving up one run on three hits to earn his first victory since 2001.

However, Narron also left open the possibility of starting Ryan Franklin, who was in the rotation his last three years with Seattle before pitching in relief for the Phillies and Reds this year. In addition, the skipper did not eliminate the possibility of starting somebody not currently on the Major League roster.

The votes that count: Anyone in the upper deck could figure out how well Michalak and fellow new arrival Kyle Lohse have pitched since arriving in Cincinnati.

But the duo has gotten more praise from the guys that really matter -- the ones behind the plate calling the pitches for them.

Lohse has been superb in two no-decisions, and including one relief appearance, he has a 2.92 ERA since arriving in the Queen City. He has struck out 16 and walked just one. The transition has been flawless, according to backstop David Ross, who caught both of Lohse's starts.

"He's real easy to work with," Ross said. "He's a lot of fun to catch. He's got really good stuff."

Michalak, meanwhile, was a treat for Javier Valentin to catch in the lefty hurler's first big-league appearance since 2002 on Saturday.

"He's real good," Valentin said. "We worked together well. We changed speeds a lot."

Welcome to New Minnesota: When the series in Philadelphia began, there were four former Phils inhabiting the visitor's clubhouse, including Cormier, Franklin and Eric Milton. Even before the departure of ex-Phillie Ramirez, Philadelphia still wasn't the most popular former home among the Reds.

That distinction goes to Minnesota, as Juan Castro, Eddie Guardado, Milton, Lohse and Valentin all used to call the Metrodome home.

Second is Seattle with Rich Aurilia, Ken Griffey Jr., Franklin and Guardado coming either directly or indirectly from the Northwest.

Seen and heard: Cormier is still questionable out of the bullpen after tweaking his hip against St. Louis on Thursday while fielding a bunt.

Aurilia was in Sunday's starting lineup at shortstop for the third time this season. Aurilia has been kept out by a long stretch of righty pitchers and the fact that starting third baseman Edwin Encarnacion is hitting .306 against righties and Aurilia just .242.

Up next: After an off-day Monday, the Reds begin a huge three-game series against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Cincinnati entered Sunday's game 2 1/2 games behind the first place Redbirds in the National League Central. Aaron Harang goes for win No. 13 in the opener as he opposes Chris Carpenter, who enters with a 10-6 mark and a 3.27 ERA.

Zachary Levine is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.