Rockies 6, Reds 5, 11 innings
CINCINNATI (AP)—A rookie led the Colorado Rockies out of their Midwest misery.
The Rockies had lost their last 12 games in the Buckeye state, where every game seems to take a bizarre turn and then turn out badly.
“It feels like every time we come here, it goes extra innings and we never seem to win those,” said Todd Helton, who hit a two-run homer.
For once, they did.
Colorado overcame Ken Griffey Jr.’s 567th career homer and another bullpen meltdown for the rare Ohio victory. Since the start of the 2002 season, the Rockies are 4-19 in the state, including 3-11 at Great American Ball Park.
“It’s encouraging, but we’ll see how we do tomorrow,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “You’ve got to build some momentum. One game can help, but you’ve got to back it up with something good tomorrow.”
Willy Taveras doubled with two outs in the 11th off left-hander Mike Stanton (1-2), who has taken losses in his last two appearances. Colorado’s rookie shortstop then drove him home with a single to right off David Weathers.
In that pressure-filled moment, he didn’t look like a rookie.
“I don’t know what it is, but I seemed relaxed, and it has been like that the whole year,” Tulowitzki said. “When the game has been on the line in a late inning and a big at-bat, I seem more relaxed. I wish I could do that in every at-bat.”
Helton was impressed.
“He’s going against a veteran pitcher there,” Helton said. “That’s a huge hit in that situation. He’s unflappable.”
Colorado prevailed in a matchup of two of the NL’s worst bullpens. The Rockies blew a seventh-inning lead, the 25th time in 29 games that their relievers have given up at least one run.
Cincinnati’s bullpen has the NL’s worst earned run average, even though general manager Wayne Krivsky has spent much of his time trying to overhaul it.
Stanton, who gave up a pair of eighth-inning singles that set up a 7-5 loss in Houston on Thursday night, retired four in a row before Taveras doubled off the wall in left field to set up the go-ahead run.
“I felt much better tonight,” Stanton said. “I felt like I had more control of my fastball and had more feeling on my breaking ball. We just didn’t make enough quality pitches at the right time.”
Right-hander Jason Hirsh gave up four runs in six innings, including Griffey’s solo shot in the fifth inning that put Cincinnati ahead 4-2. The Rockies pulled ahead 5-4 in the top of the seventh with the help of third baseman Edwin Encarnacion’s throwing error.
Helton hit a two-run homer in the first off Cincinnati’s Matt Belisle, who was coming off one of the best starts of his career. Belisle pitched a five-hitter for his first career complete game last Saturday, an 8-1 victory in Pittsburgh.
The 37-year-old Griffey has found his hitting stroke after a few more months filled with injury and illness. He broke his left hand last December, and missed most of spring training while still recovering.
Bouts of diverticulitis—inflammation in the colon—and pleurisy— inflammation in the lining of the lungs—have limited him for the last two weeks.
He connected on the first pitch from Hirsh in the fifth inning, a drive that stayed inside the right-field pole and made it 4-2. It was Griffey’s fourth homer of the season, all in his last seven games.
Griffey is in ninth place on the career list, two behind Rafael Palmeiro.
Hirsh was the 361st pitcher to give up a homer to Griffey. … Helton’s homer was his second of the season. He also had a solo shot on April 15. … Tulowitzki extended his hitting streak to a career-high seven games with a first-inning single. … Reds manager Jerry Narron was attending his daughter’s graduation at East Carolina, leaving bench coach Bucky Dent in charge. Dent ran the team five times last season, going 3-2. … 1B Scott Hatteberg batted leadoff for the 10th time in his career and the first time since Aug. 31, 2003 with Oakland.