Cincinnati’s Matt Belisle flirted with perfection the last time he took the mound.
Now, Belisle will look to build on the best start of his career and help the Reds continue their recent domination of the Colorado Rockies as the teams open a three-game series Friday at Great American Ball Park.
Belisle (3-1, 3.45 ERA) took a perfect game into the sixth inning on Saturday and ended up with his first career complete game, an 8-1 win in Pittsburgh. Belisle, a converted reliever who was making his 12th career start, had never lasted more than six innings in any outing.
Reds manager Jerry Narron said that moving into the rotation has been good for Belisle.
“Being on a regular schedule possibly has helped him as much as anything,” Narron said. “Last year he had some back problems in the bullpen where you can’t really get any rest or get in a regular routine (and that) probably hurt him.”
Belisle started off the season strong, going six innings and giving up just one run in winning each of his first two starts. However, he had allowed nine runs in 10 1-3 innings in his previous two outings before Saturday’s gem.
“The last couple of times out he didn’t trust his fastball enough, and tonight he did,” Narron said after Saturday’s win. “He was as efficient as he could possibly be. He faced 30 batters and threw 23 first-pitch strikes. That is outstanding.”
Belisle has made three career relief outings against the Rockies, allowing one run in 2 1-3 total innings without receiving a decision.
“I think filling the strike zone has been my key, and I think that’s going to be my key to consistently be building on (in) each start,” he told the Reds’ team Web site.
Belisle will be looking to help the Reds win their 10th straight home game against the Rockies. Cincinnati, which has won five straight overall between the teams, has not lost to Colorado at home since May 18, 2004.
The Reds (13-15) dropped the last two games of their three-game series at Houston, including Thursday’s 7-5 defeat. Ken Griffey went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and his 566th career homer and stole his first base since April 18, 2004.
The Rockies (11-17) dropped two of three at San Francisco, including Wednesday’s 5-3 loss. Willy Taveras went 2-for-5 with an RBI for Colorado, and Jamey Carroll snapped an 0-for-23 slump with a fifth-inning single.
Matt Holliday went 0-for-3, ending a 14-game hitting streak. He hit .453 (34-for-75) with 13 runs and 16 RBIs during that stretch.
Jason Hirsh (2-2, 3.41) will start the series opener for Colorado after allowing five runs and five hits in six innings of Saturday’s 6-2 loss to Atlanta. Hirsh has not allowed more than six hits in any of his five starts and is holding opponents to a .231 batting average.
“His command wasn’t what it had been for Jason in his other fours starts,” said Rockies manager Clint Hurdle. “He didn’t establish his fastball and nothing establishes his changeup better than his fastball.”
Hirsh’s only previous start against the Reds came on Aug. 22, while he was with Houston. He was pounded for 10 runs in 2 2-3 innings of a 14-0 loss at Cincinnati in just his third major league start.