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Chapman makes triumphant return as Reds best Rockies

The SportsXchange

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Reds Aroldis Chapman jogged in from the bullpen in the ninth inning Sunday afternoon amid thunderous applause. Chapman made his first appearance since being struck in the head by a line drive during spring training. Considering the seriousness of the injury, it was an emotional moment for everyone involved.

But Chapman maintained his focus, striking out left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, third baseman Nolan Arenado and first baseman Justin Morneau -- Colorado's No. 4, 5 and 6 hitters -- in succession to finish off Cincinnati's 4-1 victory over the Rockies at Great American Ball Park.

Todd Frazier hit a solo home run and Homer Bailey allowed just one run in 7 1/3 innings as the Reds (17-19) took two of three in the weekend series.

"I was excited to pitch, and I got more excited when I heard the fans cheering," Chapman said via interpreter Tomas Vera. "I know how to control myself and work without distraction. I was physically and mentally prepared. There was a lot of emotion for me."

Chapman walked shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to begin the ninth inning. He then fanned Gonzalez on a 102-mph fastball, Arenado on an 87-mph slider, and Morneau on a 101-mph heater, all swinging, for his first save.

"There was an adrenaline rush for everyone to see him sprinting out there," said Frazier. "Sometimes adrenaline and emotion gets the best of you. It didn't with him."

Right fielder Charlie Blackmon hit his ninth home run for Colorado (23-17), which started the day one game behind first-place San Francisco in the National League West standings.

Shortstop Ramon Santiago went 2-for-3 with a double and scored twice for Cincinnati, and center fielder Billy Hamilton, making his first start since being injured on May 1, went 2-for-3 with a walk, a triple and his 12th stolen base of the season.

Bailey (3-2) has been under increased scrutiny since signing a six-year, $105 million contract in February. On Sunday, Bailey was aggressive in the strike zone, allowing one run and a season-low four hits. He walked two and struck out six over 112 pitches.

"I had some mechanical faults and just needed to get my timing back," Bailey said.

Rockies right-hander Juan Nicasio (4-2) allowed four runs, two earned, and five hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out three.

Hamilton impacted the game with his speed in the first inning when he beat out a bunt single and reached third when Morneau's rushed throw sailed into foul territory. Moments later, Hamilton scored on right fielder Skip Schumaker's ground out to put Cincinnati ahead 1-0.

In the third, Schumaker increased the Reds' lead to 2-0 with a two-out, two-strike single to drive home Ramon Santiago from third.

Bailey retired the first nine batters he faced and needed just 39 pitches to do so.

Blackmon abruptly halted Bailey's perfect streak with a solo home run to right-center leading off the fourth to make the score 2-1. That would end the scoring for Colorado.

"Where he did a good job on me was he went straight to his slider," said Blackmon of Bailey. "He didn't mess around with throwing too many fastballs, and he used both sides of the plate. This park has the least foul territory of any park in baseball, and I don't know how I fouled out twice."

Frazier, the Reds' third baseman, got that run back with his seventh home run, an estimated 421-foot blast to center, putting the Reds ahead 3-1.

In the fifth, Bailey walked Morneau and allowed a ground-rule double by catcher Michael McKenry but retired three straight batters to end that threat.

A throwing error by Arenado allowed Santiago to score from third, giving the Reds a 4-1 lead in the fifth. It was one of two miscues committed by Colorado on Sunday.

"We probably could've given up two (runs) instead of four," said Weiss. "But it was going to be tough for us to have a big inning."

NOTES: Reds CF Billy Hamilton returned to the starting lineup for the first time since spraining two knuckles on his left hand while making a diving catch May 1. ... Rockies CF Corey Dickerson started Sunday's game coming off a career night on Saturday (4-for-5, two homers, two doubles, four RBIs). "All he had to do was show up today," said Rockies manager Walt Weiss. "He's a great story. We have a few of those on this team." ... RF Charlie Blackmon's fourth-inning home run was the 20th by the Rockies this season with a two-strike count. ... Reds 3B Todd Frazier extended his hitting streak to 11 games. ...Rockies 1B Justin Morneau has hit safely in 32 of 34 starts. ... It was LHP Aroldis Chapman's 78th career save. ... Colorado is now 10-12 on the road this season.
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