Lyles 'rights the ship,' sails to first win vs. Reds

After two heartbreaking starts, right-hander finds command, gets run support

April 19th, 2016

CINCINNATI -- Last time Rockies right-hander Jordan Lyles gave up the mound, he was furious with himself and the circumstances -- after 4 2/3 innings, or one out shy of receiving credit for the team's win against the Giants on Wednesday.

This time, on Monday night, he still didn't want to give it up. But after throwing seven innings and holding the Reds to four hits and an unearned run, Lyles had done his part. His teammates earned him his first victory of the season, 5-1, with a four-run eighth inning.

"We were able to get some quick outs all seven innings," said Lyles, who struck out four against a single intentional walk. "I wanted to go back out there for the eighth, but obviously in the National League, you've got a tie game and you've got to try to put some runs up. It ended up working out."

In Lyles' previous two starts, he was strong in the first two innings, only to fall apart after -- 3 1/3 innings in a 13-6 loss to the Padres in the home opener, and the 10-6 eventual victory against the Giants. In that one, he let the fifth inning get to dangerous lefty hitter Brandon Belt. Chris Rusin struck him out and threw two more solid innings for that decision.

Monday's game was everything those others weren't. Instead of abandoning the fastball after hits, Lyles stuck with four-seam and two-seam heaters, pitched inside against dangerous Reds left-handed hitters Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, and mixed in his slider/cutter and changeup.

"He's a competitor like everybody else in that rotation," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "To get taken out with one out to go for a win, I don't ever want to do that. But you've got to make those tough decisions sometimes on the fly.

"But I was glad to see Jordan really right the ship."

The Rockies' maligned starting rotation has suddenly posted a 1.42 ERA through five starts, which included spot-starter Christian Bergman's effort. The Rockies needed Lyles, who was limited to 10 starts last season by a ligament injury in his right big toe, to become a full participant in the hot streak. It was the fourth time in his career that Lyles, a one-time first-round Astros pick, had gone seven innings without an earned run, and his first victory since April 23, 2015, against the Padres.

Lyles said he didn't focus between starts on being so close to a win without getting one.

"Tonight, that's what I'm most proud of -- getting those quick, efficient outs and getting seven innings," said Lyles, who threw just 76 pitches. "I wish I could have gone back out, but the offense showed up in the top of the eighth, and I didn't have to go back out there."