CINCINNATI -- Ian Desmond is heating up at the plate after a slow start, and his two-run home run on Wednesday night proved to be the difference in the Rockies' 6-3 victory over the Reds at Great American Ball Park.
The Rockies won Wednesday's game despite the top three batters going 1-for-14 with three strikeouts. But, the bottom of the order picked them up, led by catcher Tony Wolters, who went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs and is now 5-for-9 this season against the Reds.
In his last nine games, Desmond is batting .333 with three homers, 10 RBIs and six walks, including two more free passes on Wednesday.
"A week to 10 days ago, he made a slight adjustment with his hands, where he starts," said Rockies manager Bud Black. "That's given him a little better path to the ball. He's having better at-bats, on-base percentage is climbing. He's in a good place."
Black talked pregame about starter Jon Gray needing a good outing on Wednesday, and Gray (6-6) kept Colorado in the game, allowing three runs over five innings.
"I was kind of upset about the [three] walks," Gray said. "Definitely a lot of traffic from the beginning. I wasted some pitches. It was tough to find that rhythm."
Reds starter Sal Romano came in with a 9.75 first-inning ERA this season, but the Rockies waited until the second frame to plate a run when Desmond walked and scored on Wolters' double to put Colorado up, 1-0.
Gray, who pitched a season-low 3 1/3 innings in his last outing, allowed an RBI single to Jose Peraza in the second to tie the score. But, Gray was able to minimize damage.
"I think Jon can leave that one feeling good about a couple things," said Black. "He was tested. He got through five innings. Slider wasn't quite as consistent, but I like the fastball. He battled through it."
Cincinnati was leading, 2-1, after the third, when the Rockies began to get some better swings against Romano (3-7) the second time through the order.
Gerardo Parra who has hit safely in 12 of 17 games, delivered an RBI single to drive home Trevor Story, who had doubled.
Desmond promptly launched a two-run homer, his 11th of the year, to give Colorado a 4-2 lead. It was another good sign for the Rockies' first baseman, who came in batting .193.
The bottom of the Rockies' order has had success in this series, and Wolters, the No. 8 hitter, came through with his second RBI hit of the night in the sixth to make the score 5-3.
"We saw some good things offensively from some guys in the deeper part of the order, which is great," said Black.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gray escapes jam in fifth: The Rockies walked the tightrope a few times on Wednesday night. Colorado's lead was down to one run in the fifth and the Reds had runners at first and third with one out. But Gray retired Scott Schebler and Peraza on two soft fly balls to end the inning.
"Getting out of those situations was a nice test for me," Gray said.
Bullpen performs: Then, the Rockies' beleaguered bullpen, which had a 9.25 ERA so far in June, did its job. In the sixth, Harrison Musgrave struck out three to overcome two walks in the inning and maintain the lead.
In the eighth, Joey Votto flew out against Jake McGee to leave runners on the corners.
"The bullpen, there are multiple guys that need to do their job," Black said. "If a number of guys falter, which has happened in the past week, you're going to struggle. Tonight everybody did their job."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Just about everyone made a mistake on a bizarre play that occurred in the eighth. Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez opened the inning with a fairly routine fly ball to the right-center-field gap. The ball hung in the air with plenty of time for Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton to make the catch, but miscommunication with right fielder Schebler led Hamilton to drop the ball, and it rolled to the wall.
Hamilton threw to second baseman Scooter Gennett, who dropped the ball as Gonzalez stumbled between second and third. Gennett recovered to comically flip the baseball to no one in particular as Gonzalez scampered back to second base. Hamilton was charged with an error on the play. More >
The Rockies play the final leg of a three-game series against the Reds at Great American Ball Park on Thursday, in a game available on MLB Network outside the Colorado area. Left-hander Tyler Anderson will make his third career start against the Reds and second of 2018. Anderson earned a no-decision in a 6-5 loss on May 26, and is 1-0 in his career with a 3.75 ERA vs. Cincinnati. The Reds will counter with rookie right-hander Tyler Mahle, who also took a no-decision in that May 26 game. First pitch is scheduled for 10:35 a.m. MT.