Rockies 10, Reds 9, 10 innings
DENVER (AP)—Kaz Matsui is finally comfortable in America.
The 31-year-old Japanese second baseman never lived up to the hype in New York after signing a $20.1 million, three-year contract in 2003 with the Mets, who traded him to Colorado last summer.
He sure is cozy in Colorado, where the Rockies are 9-4 since his return from the disabled list.
Matsui starred in the field, on the bases and at the plate Sunday in the Rockies’ 10-9 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in 10 innings.
“He’s an exciting ballplayer and he’s just starting to rekindle the skill set that was going on in Japan,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. “I mean, the Mets thought pretty highly of this guy, they signed him to a nice contract and things just never got untracked for him there. This environment’s been good for him. He’s been good for us. The team has embraced him.
“He shows up on both sides of the ball.”
“It’s getting better, for sure,” Matsui said through a translator when asked whether he was playing his best ball since arriving from Japan. “My back is fine, too.”
After the Reds tied it in the ninth, Matsui turned a spectacular double play on Ken Griffey Jr.’s grounder in the 10th. Then he scored the winning run.
“You’re not going to see a better double play than the one you saw in the 10th inning,” Hurdle said. “When he’s on the bases, he’s a threat all the time. He’s got a quick bat, had a big hit today, a couple of them. He’s doing a lot of things for us.”
Back in the lineup after being benched for two games, Garrett Atkins homered and singled in the winning run in the 10th to help the Rockies win their first home series since April 2-4 against Arizona.
Matsui opened the 10th with a single off Victor Santos (1-1) and went to second on Santos’ wild pickoff attempt. After Matt Holliday struck out, Todd Helton was intentionally walked to bring up Atkins, who hit his fourth homer in the second inning after he was benched for two games for ineffective play.
Atkins singled to left and Matsui scored easily from second base, making a winner of Manny Corpas (2-2), who worked a scoreless 10th.
After the Rockies’ four-run rally in the eighth put them ahead 9-8, closer Brian Fuentes failed to secure his 13th straight save. Juan Castro led off the ninth with a double and went to third when Fuentes threw away a pickoff attempt. Castro scored on Jeff Conine’s one-out single.
Reds starter Matt Belisle, staked to an 8-2 lead after Brandon Phillips’ three-run homer in the sixth, left with Cincinnati ahead 8-4 after giving up a two-out single in the seventh. Jon Coutlangus walked three straight batters to make it 8-5 before Gary Majewski got Yorvit Torrealba on a fly ball to end the rally.
“When you come in with the bases loaded and no outs you hope to minimize the damage,” Weathers said after his second blown save in 13 chances. “You hope to get the first guy out. But he hammered one down the right-field line. He hit it perfectly. With his speed, it’s an easy triple for him and you knew Taveras with his speed would score from first.”
Belisle scattered 10 hits over 6 2-3 solid innings. He also singled and stole a base in the first, then added sacrifice bunts in the third and seventh. The last Reds pitcher to steal a base was Danny Graves on July 9, 2003, at Houston.
Rockies starter Rodrigo Lopez gave up four runs, three earned, and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings.
Cincinnati outfielder Adam Dunn was scratched about an hour before the game because he wasn’t feeling well. His replacement, center fielder Dewayne Wise, staked the Reds to a 2-0 lead in the second when he hit an RBI triple and scored on Chad Moeller’s suicide squeeze.
Dunn pinch-hit in the 10th. … Taveras’ two bunt singles increased his total to a major league-best 17. … Reds SS Alex Gonzalez strained his right hamstring and is day-to-day.