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Bailey's solid start just what the Reds needed

MLB.com @m_sheldon

DENVER -- Tuesday's start was the third of the 2017 version of Homer Bailey's comeback from another elbow surgery. Considering how poorly the first two starts went for the veteran right-hander, his six innings during an 8-1 victory over the Rockies were both badly wanted and needed.

Bailey gave up one earned run on eight hits, all of which were singles. He did not walk a batter and struck out three while throwing 99 pitches. In his first two starts, he lasted a combined 4 2/3 innings, allowing 14 earned runs.

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DENVER -- Tuesday's start was the third of the 2017 version of Homer Bailey's comeback from another elbow surgery. Considering how poorly the first two starts went for the veteran right-hander, his six innings during an 8-1 victory over the Rockies were both badly wanted and needed.

Bailey gave up one earned run on eight hits, all of which were singles. He did not walk a batter and struck out three while throwing 99 pitches. In his first two starts, he lasted a combined 4 2/3 innings, allowing 14 earned runs.

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"Any time you get a win, it's a step in the right direction," said Bailey, who earned his first victory since Aug. 12, 2016, vs. the Brewers. "We executed a lot of pitches. It's a really good lineup over there; that's very dangerous in this park. We had some good results."

It wasn't really an easy night for Bailey, however, as there were jams to escape. After the Reds took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Rockies connected on three straight one-out hits in the bottom of the frame to tie the score. But just as the game seemed primed to get away from him, Bailey got Mark Reynolds to hit a roller up the middle that shortstop Zack Cozart turned for an inning-ending double play.

The Rockies' fourth, with the Reds ahead, 4-1, began with back-to-back singles and a fly ball caught at the warning track by left fielder Adam Duvall. A wild pitch to Trevor Story put both runners into scoring position and the potential tying run at the plate, but Story struck out on an 88-mph slider before Alexi Amarista grounded out to second base.

"When you're seeing that kind of contact, you just kind of have to stay with what you're doing," Bailey said. "Experience tells you to stay within yourself. You're making good pitches, just keep doing that."

Video: CIN@COL: Bailey grounds out Amarista, escapes jam

From Aug. 7, 2014, until his 2017 debut vs. the Nationals on June 24, Bailey was limited to eight starts in the big leagues after undergoing three surgeries on his elbow -- a repair of a torn flexor mass tendon in 2014, Tommy John surgery in 2015 and an arthroscopic operation that removed bone chips this past Feb. 18.

"He's missed a lot of time pitching in big league games over the last three years," manager Bryan Price said. "Just to see him be back out there. ... It's a tough draw. Washington, Milwaukee and then the Rockies here at home in Colorado. That being said, when he's on, he's a good matchup for anybody. He can beat anybody."

Bailey had good velocity in the previous two starts, hitting 95 mph, but he lacked command and secondary pitches. This time he had an effective slider and finished his pitches well.

"Everything was a little bit sharper. We had command of everything tonight," Bailey said.

Although the Reds, and Bailey, would not get ahead of themselves -- Cincinnati is 11 games under .500 -- the club can take optimism from Tuesday's start. The Reds have been counting on Bailey's return all season to add depth to their rotation. If the rotation with the Majors' worst ERA and fewest total innings pitched can find some stability, Cincinnati has a lineup that can score and a strong defense that can make good starts hold up.

"That's why we, here in this clubhouse, feel like no one's conceding anything," Price said. "As the starting pitching gets healthier, stronger, more efficient, there's no reason to think we can't roll off some wins, even though we went into today 8 1/2 out. We've got 80 games to play. You never know what could happen."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Homer Bailey