Romano fans 7 in bid for Reds' rotation

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- In a bid to earn a spot in the Reds' rotation, right-hander Sal Romano appeared from the bullpen and struck out seven batters over 3 2/3 innings, and a split-squad of Reds handed the Brewers a 4-2 loss on Sunday at Goodyear Ballpark to snap a five-game losing streak.

Romano, who pitched at Double-A last season, entered in the fourth inning and now has a 1.69 ERA in four spring appearances. In the fifth inning, after beginning with a walk and hitting a batter, he struck out six in a row. The Reds were leading, 4-0, when the Brewers hit back-to-back doubles off of Romano, including one from top prospect Lewis Brinson with two outs in the seventh that scored Ryan Cordell, giving Brinson an RBI in four straight games.

"He was outstanding," Reds pitching coach Mack Jenkins said of Romano. "Not just the pitch quality, but he's changing and learning so quickly here about not overthrowing. We saw a few today where he was up, and man, he went down right away. That was exceptional. That was the best outing we've had from anyone all spring. It was very good."

The Reds took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning on prospect Jesse Winker's two-out RBI double to right field, scoring Adam Duvall. During a three-run fifth, Zack Cozart blooped an RBI double, and two runs scored on a fielding error and throwing error by Orlando Arcia on the same play with Joey Votto batting and two outs.

Reds starter Bronson Arroyo made his spring debut as he attempts to make the rotation as a 40-year-old non-roster invitee coming back from two injured years away. Arroyo worked two scoreless innings with one hit and two strikeouts.

Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson countered with three scoreless innings, one hit and four strikeouts.

"It's good to move that age barrier, because it gives everybody hope that you can play as long as you want. There's no real ceiling on it," said Nelson, 27, of Arroyo.

Does Nelson, who is trying to seal a spot in the Milwaukee rotation, see himself pitching as long as Arroyo?

"Yeah, I hope so," he said. "I mean, good things have happened and you've done things the right way if you're in that position. I'm going to do everything I can to be in that position."

Brewers No. 5 prospect Isan Diaz hit a home run leading off the ninth and Scooter Gennett went 2-for-3 in his first game back since sustaining a minor wrist injury on March 2.Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco played two innings in his spring debut and went 0-for-1 with a groundout to shortstop.

Brewers Up Next: Junior Guerra, a candidate to start on Opening Day, should advance to about 60 pitches when he works against the Mariners at Maryvale Baseball Park on Monday. Manager Craig Counsell has yet to make any announcement about his regular-season pitching plans. Guerra's first pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. CT and will be webcast exclusively at Brewers.com.

Reds Up Next: Left-hander Amir Garrett, the Reds' top pitching prospect and a candidate for the big league rotation, will have another opportunity to make his case when he starts in place of Anthony DeSclafani vs. the A's at 4:05 p.m. ET in Goodyear on Monday. Garrett is coming off his first rough outing, having given up five unearned runs on seven hits over 2 2/3 innings vs. the Angels.

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Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.