CINCINNATI, Ohio — The Cincinnati Reds beat the Colorado Rockies 4-1 Sunday afternoon in front of 33,143 fans who celebrated Mother’s Day at Great American Ball Park.
Homer Bailey took the mound in the rubber match looking to improvehis Earned Run Average, which was approaching six. Bailey completed that objective on his way to his third victory of the season as he pitched seven and a third innings, allowing one run on four hits, while striking out six batters.
The only run Bailey allowed came in the fourth inning when Charlie Blackmon led off the frame with his ninth home run of the year.
Cincinnati third baseman Todd Frazier kept encouraging Bailey to be aggressive on the mound.
“I said if we hold them under five runs, then we’ve got a shot,” Frazier said. “With an offense like that, holding them to one run today, Bailey was commanding the strike zone. You know rocket fire, I kept saying rocket fire. Let’s go, keep throwing that ball hard, it’s tough to hit. When he’s throwing strikes and hitting spots, it’s a fun thing to watch.”
Although he only allowed one run, Bailey was tasked with battling though some pressured situations as he pitched in his third-consecutive quality start.
No situation was more taxing than the fifth inning. Bailey walked Justin Morneau on four consecutive pitches, then allowed a ground-rule double to Michael McKenry. With runners in scoring position and nobody out, Bailey went to work. DJ LeMahieu and Colorado pitcher Juan Nicasio fell victim to strikeouts. Blackmon then proceeded to pop out to Frazier, allowing Bailey to escape the jam unscathed.
“Me and Tucker worked really good together,” Bailey said. “We just tried to attack, especially against a team that hits so well. You saw what they could do last night. I tried to keep them off balance, we scored some runs and we get Aroldis back. It’s a big series win for us.”
Bailey excited the game in the seventh inning with a runner on first, a pitch count of 112 and two left-handed hitters waiting in the wings. Manny Para replaced Bailey and promptly got Blackmon to pop out before striking out Dickerson to end the inning.
As the ninth inning approached with Cincinnati clinging to a three-run lead, Reds’ manager Bryan Price called on Aroldis Chapman to make his season debut, which prompted a standing ovation from the Reds’ faithful in attendance.
Chapman picked up the save as he routinely hit triple digits on the radar gun.
“That was great, to see the confidence, to see him sprinting out there and the adrenaline rush,” Frazier said. “He goes out there and pitches with heart, and determination. It was very cool, blowing it by some guys.”
As strong as the pitching performance was Sunday, Cincinnati’s offense took advantage of several opportunities to score, which began when Billy Hamilton stepped to the plate to begin the Reds’ half of the first inning.
Hamilton bunted the ball toward the Morneau who proceeded to throw the ball down the right-field line. Hamilton made his way to third on the error. Skip Schumaker wasted no time getting Hamilton home as the right fielder grounded to second, scoring the unearned run.
Cincinnati capitalized on another opportunity in the third inning. Ramon Santiago lead off the frame with a single, then reached second on a Bailey sacrifice bunt. Immediately following the bunt, Nicasio committed a balk, which allowed Santiago to reach third. With two outs in the inning, and the Reds’ opportunity evaporating, Schumaker came to the plate and recorded his second single of the contest, which allowed the run to score.
The Reds led 2-0, until the aforementioned Blackmon home run cut the deficit in half in the fourth inning. However, Frazier took it upon himself to recapture that lost run in the bottom half of the inning as he hit a solo shot to center field.
With Cincinnati leading 3-1, the Redlegs added their fourth and final run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Santiago began the frame by doubling down the right-field line, then made his way to third on another Bailey sacrifice bunt. Hamilton then drew a walk and stole second quickly. The stolen base was Hamilton’s 12th of the season.
With two away in the inning, and runners on second and third, Brandon Phillips grounded to Nolan Arenado who appeared to be indecisive on his throw, which caused the third baseman to commit the second error of the game for Colorado. Morneau caught the throw but he wasn’t in a position to touch the bag or Phillips, and Santiago took advantage of the situation by crossing home plate.
Cincinnati will be back in action Tuesday as the San Diego Padres visit the Queen City.
Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or on Twitter @PDTSportsEditor.