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03/17/12 9:31 PM ET

Rotation stringing together solid performances

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- After some rather inflated run totals in the early going of Cactus League games, Reds starting pitchers have started to put some nice outings together.

Over the last three games, Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and Bronson Arroyo have combined to post a 1.50 ERA with two earned runs over 12 innings. On Saturday in a 9-2 win over the Indians, Arroyo gave up one run on four hits over four innings with no walks and two strikeouts in a well-pitched outing.

"Regardless of how long you've been playing the game and I know Spring Training has been going smooth for the whole team, you never want to see your starting pitchers get racked around a lot," Arroyo said. "It gives a bad mood to the organization as far as the way things are headed, even though it doesn't mean a whole lot. It was nice to go out there, get off to a good start and have a nice lead and make everybody comfortable about what we're doing out there."

Not a coincidence to manager Dusty Baker, the Reds have played much better in recent days.

"That's the key. Games we haven't played well or performed well didn't have good starting pitching," Baker said before Saturday's game. "It's no secret. That's where it starts. These guys are coming around. Keep remembering it's how you finish, not how you start."

Arroyo, who has a 6.00 ERA after three starts, gave up four runs and six hits over two innings against the Cubs on Monday. While the results were better this time, he still didn't feel his best as he threw 50 pitches in the game and 17 more in the bullpen following his start.

"I threw the ball the way I wanted to," Arroyo said. "I got the cutter to move today, which I haven't been able to do in a long time. I worked on some stuff the last few days and kind of executed it the way I wanted to. I feel good about that."

Tomko making his pitch for 25-man roster

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- It doesn't take a mathematician crunching numbers to realize that a lot has to go Brett Tomko's way for the pitcher to make the Reds' 25-man roster out of camp.

Tomko took care of the one thing under his control on Friday vs. the Rockies. He pitched three innings in relief and retired all nine batters he faced. In the sixth inning, he struck out the side.

"It's always good when you don't give up any runs. It doesn't matter how it is," Tomko said on Saturday morning. "I'm in a different situation. I started throwing pretty early because I don't have the luxury of working on things like working on my changeup. I had that time a long time ago. I had to come a little bit more prepared, more ready to go from the start."

Tomko, 38, signed a Minor League contract with the Reds and was invited to big league camp as it opened last month. The right-hander, who began his Major League career with the Reds from 1997-99, is viewed as potential rotation insurance and is capable of working out of the bullpen.

Through three games, totaling six innings, Tomko is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA this spring. In his first game on March 6 vs. the Mariners, he gave up five runs (three earned) in one inning. On March 11 against the Angels, he worked two scoreless innings with two hits.

"So far so good, besides the first game, which was a weird game. I was pleased with everything," Tomko said.

"That was real good," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Tomko's most recent outing. "He was throwing the ball good the day he got hit. But that was the day the wind was blowing and we didn't get an out on a bunt play."

After suffering a pinched nerve in the arm late in 2009 with the A's, Tomko did not pitch in the Majors in 2010 and he had a brief big league stint with the Rangers early last season.

"He came in this morning, he was pretty happy," Baker said. "I'm happy for him."

Baker pleased with young players' efforts

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Right fielder and prospect Donald Lutz ended Friday's 4-3 win over the Rockies with a great defensive play. On Wilkin Castillo's two-out RBI single, Lutz fired a perfect throw to the plate that nailed Chad Tracy as he tried to score the tying run in the ninth inning. Lutz also made a leaping catch in the eighth inning.

"He gave us two nice plays out there. He's been working hard," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Here's a kid out of 'A' ball really playing his butt off and playing a lot."

Besides Lutz, Baker has liked some of the other younger guys in camp, specifically mentioning infielder Henry Rodriguez, shortstop Didi Gregorious and outfielder Daryl Jones.

"These guys are playing," Baker said. "You want to see what they can do, and you want them to go where they're going with a lot of confidence and feeling that 'I'm close.' As long as they don't go down there and get the big league-itis and start acting different, which I warned them not to do. It's a tremendous opportunity for these young guys, and they're saving my veterans' legs. Now it's time for them to go pretty soon and my regular guys to build endurance playing and at-bats wise."

Worth noting

•  Closer Ryan Madson, who has yet to see game action because of irritation in his right elbow, completed his latest side bullpen session on Saturday. A specific return date is not yet known.

•  Despite Saturday's day game vs. the Indians coming after a Friday night game vs. Colorado, Baker started several regulars back-to-back including Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs.

"It teaches your body how to rebound on a short night's rest," Baker said. "The rest of the time here, we rest them the day game after a night game."

•  Continuing a St. Patrick's Day tradition, the Reds wore green caps in their game vs. Cleveland.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.