Cueto, Frazier lead charge to beat Rockies
DENVER -- In quite possibly his final start with the Reds, Johnny Cueto delivered eight scoreless innings, and Todd Frazier crushed his 100th career homer to give Cincinnati a 5-2 win over the Rockies on Saturday night at Coors Field.
With trade rumors continuing to swirl, Cueto (7-6) gave up just four hits and one walk with five strikeouts. He received all the run support he needed with Cincinnati's four-run third, when Joey Votto singled home the speedy Billy Hamilton in front of Frazier's three-run homer. Cincinnati tacked on another insurance run in the fourth after Hamilton beat Ben Paulsen's throw home on Votto's groundout to short.
"I'm telling you, today he was on a mission," Reds catcher Brayan Pena said of Cueto. "I saw something in his eyes that I never saw before. He was ready today. He was just waiting for something special to show, and that's exactly what he did."
Rockies left-hander Chris Rusin (3-4), meanwhile, struggled through five innings, yielding 10 hits and five runs (four earned). It was his shortest start since June 16, when he lasted just four innings against the Astros.
"They got the big inning," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Hamilton creates some havoc with his speed. Chris threw the ball well otherwise, but they had the one big inning."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cueto breezes: Cueto retired nine of his first 10 batters and 12 of 14 through his first four innings. Colorado didn't get a leadoff batter on base until Corey Dickerson led off the fifth with a single, but he was immediately erased when next batter Ben Paulsen grounded into a 3-6-1 double play. More >
"I was trying to avoid throwing too many pitches," Cueto said through translator Tomas Vera. "I was feeling great at that point, but I felt like that was enough. I had a gut feeling it was enough."
There was no place like home: Entering Saturday, Rusin had, for the most part, successfully navigated the pitching perils of Coors Field this season. He had a 3.00 ERA in five home appearances and hadn't given up more than seven hits in any of his four starts at Coors Field. But Rusin surrendered that many hits in the fourth inning alone en route to his shortest home start this year.
"They singled me to death, and they put some good swings on some pitches," Rusin said. "Just didn't make my pitches when I needed to."
Home run No. 100 for Frazier: One pitch after just missing a homer to left field that curved foul, Frazier lifted Rusin's 1-1 pitch the opposite way to right field for a three-run homer. It was his 27th home run of the season, tying him for the National League lead with Washington's Bryce Harper and Miami's Giancarlo Stanton. It was also Frazier's 100th homer of his big league career.
"What was impressive about that is he just missed a home run down the left field line and then he hits one to straightaway right field," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "In this ballpark, you can get real pull happy trying to get the ball up in the air. … He did a real nice job of not trying to get into that pull home run mode and got a pitch that he needed to stay inside and drive to right field and did it."
Little lumber: The Rockies had just eight baserunners the entire night and put just two men in scoring position. Both of those instances came in the ninth-inning, when Carlos Gonzalez moved DJ LeMahieu to third after LeMahieu extended his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games. Daniel Descalso then brought home the Rockies' first run with an RBI groundout, and Gonzalez later scored on Eugenio Suarez's fielding error. But the Reds brought in Aroldis Chapman, who retired pinch-hitter Michael McKenry on a grounder to first to end the game. More >
"He throws pitches [that are] borderline strikes that end up balls, and we're taking swings at them when we shouldn't -- instead of sticking to an approach that we should be sticking to. I feel like we sometimes get out of our approach against guys like that. He's a good pitcher, but we've got to have a better approach because I think we could've scratched more runs [across] than that." -- Dickerson, on Cueto
"Every time I come to the ballpark, I feel that way. I feel like this is the last time. My teammates feel the same way. Something is going to happen. They're going to trade me. I don't know what's going on." -- Cueto, on his eight-inning performance possibly being his final start with the Reds
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Reds first baseman Joey Votto was 2-for-4 in the game, extending his multi-hit game streak to five. Votto also has at least two hits in seven of his nine games since the All-Star break. Votto's RBI groundout in the third inning gave him 600 RBIs for his career.
With two outs in the seventh, Cueto hit Nolan Arenado in the left hand with a 96-mph fastball. Arenado stayed in the game, but left for a pinch-hitter in the ninth.
"X-rays were negative, but his hand started swelling up," Weiss said. "Just wanted to get him out of there."
Last season, Arenado fractured his left middle finger while sliding into second, but Weiss said Arenado was hit more toward the back of his hand.
'FASTER THAN FAST'
That's the way Weiss described Hamilton's game-changing speed, and it discombobulated the Rockies after Hamilton's fourth-inning single. Rusin had him picked off, but Hamilton took off for second and ended up at third on Paulsen's wild throw.
With the lefty-hitting Votto up, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki had shifted to the second-base side, and his covering second base created an awkward throwing target for Paulsen. But Hamilton's speed left the Rockies no other strategic choice.
"Realistically, Nolan [Arenado, the third baseman shifted to the shortstop area] is the guy to cover, but you've got to worry about that guy going to third," Tulowitzki said. "It's not a good situation. He's a threat -- the fastest guy in the league, and he can make things happen."
In the top of the second inning, Billy Hamilton led off with a push bunt that was fielded by Rusin between the mound and first base line. Hamilton was called out on the throw to first base by umpire Hunter Wendelstadt. After the Reds challenged the call, it was overturned upon review and Hamilton had his eighth bunt single of the season -- one that started a big rally.
During the fourth inning, Hamilton tried scoring after Votto grounded out to the shortstop. Hamilton slid home head first as first baseman Ben Paulsen's throw came to the plate. He was called out by Bob Davidson before it was challenged and overturned upon review.
Reds: Michael Lorenzen takes the mound in Sunday's series finale at 4:10 p.m. ET. Lorenzen faced the Rockies on May 26, allowing one run and two hits over seven innings. Lorenzen did not receive a decision in Cincinnati's 2-1 win.
Rockies: Colorado has been a mixed bag in series finales this season, going 13-17 in such games. The Rockies are 2-3 in series finales this month, and a loss on Sunday would be their third straight series-finale loss. Colorado will give the ball to Kyle Kendrick, who beat the Reds earlier this season with four runs surrendered in 7 1/3 innings in a 2:10 p.m. MT start.
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