DENVER -- In Matt Harvey's three previous starts for the Reds, he endured some early trouble, made a correction and seemed to right the ship while his lineup picked him up. On Sunday vs. the Rockies, there was no offensive help for Harvey by the time he figured things out, and he was on the wrong end of an 8-2 loss at Coors Field.
Harvey pitched 5 1/3 innings with four earned runs, nine hits, two walks and four strikeouts. It was the first time the Reds lost a game that he started since he was acquired from the Mets earlier this month for Devin Mesoraco. In the first inning vs. Colorado with a 1-0 lead, he allowed home runs to David Dahl and Carlos Gonzalez.
"That loss is on me completely," Harvey said. "I have to do a better job of getting out there and trying to limit the damage. First-pitch homers are going to happen. But getting ahead of CarGo like that and throwing one right where he wants it is not the way to start the game."
Cincinnati jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Scooter Gennett followed Joey Votto's two-out double with one of his own against Rockies starter German Marquez. But Marquez was tough the rest of the day and allowed just two more two-out singles in the third inning -- to Votto and Gennett. It was the only other time they had runners in scoring position against him.
Harvey's day started turbulently when his second batter of the game, Dahl, crushed a first-pitch fastball up in the strike zone for a home run to right field. With two outs in the first inning and one on, the Reds were suddenly trailing by a 3-1 score when Gonzalez obliterated a 2-2 fastball low and inside and launched it into the right-field upper deck. The ball traveled an estimated 461 feet, with a 110 mph exit velocity, according to Statcast™.
"I've definitely seen him enough to know that low-and-in spot is right where his sweet swing is. I put it right there," Harvey said.
In eight starts this season combined with the Reds and Mets, Harvey has an 11.25 first-inning ERA with 10 earned runs and 13 hits allowed -- including four homers. Two starts ago at San Francisco, he allowed two runs in the first. During his last start against the Pirates, he escaped after a bases-loaded jam.
"It's not something you want to do," Harvey said. "You don't want go in a hole right away. Maybe I have to throw a few extra pitches in the bullpen, or go out there and pretend like [I'm facing] a hitter or two before I finish up my warmup. I've got to do a better job of limiting the damage early when you get a lead."
In the fourth inning, Harvey allowed a leadoff double but came away with the runner left stranded on third base. During the fifth inning, he allowed two singles and a walk to get into a bases-loaded jam, but worked out of it with a groundout to first base.
With 83 pitches, Harvey returned for the sixth and Tony Wolters started with a leadoff single up the middle. Following a Marquez sacrifice, interim manager Jim Riggleman went with lefty Wandy Peralta to face Charlie Blackmon but it didn't work. Blackmon hit a RBI single on the ground to left field.
Riggleman had no thoughts of letting Harvey finish the sixth.
"We weren't swinging the bats," he said. "We didn't want to go down any further, and their left-handers were coming up. I felt like Peralta was the right guy to try to nullify that."
Two batters later against Tanner Rainey, Nolan Arenado launched the first pitch for a two-run homer to center field. Ian Desmond added a two-run homer in the seventh inning against Dylan Floro.
Cincinnati dropped two of three games in the series. Harvey is 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA since joining the Reds.
"I'm really happy to see [Harvey] settle in," Riggleman said. "He's really throwing the ball good. The ball is coming out of his hand good. The first inning has got him a few times. You see that around baseball a lot. Guys have a tough first inning. It is the one inning the club sets its offense up just the way they want it. It is the prime inning to score runs. A starter has to find a way to not let it happen."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Missed late chances: The Reds threatened against Colorado's bullpen in the final two innings. Following three consecutive one-out hits that loaded the bases in the ninth against Brooks Pounders, a wild pitch to Jesse Winker scored Jose Peraza. After Winker walked, the Rockies summoned closer Wade Davis. He threw one pitch and got a sharp line drive from Tucker Barnhart to the mound. As Davis flinched away from the ball, he somehow caught it and tossed to third base for the game-ending double play.
Coming off of 5-for-5 game on Saturday, Gennett had hits in his first two at-bats on Sunday for seven consecutive hits. Gennett struck out in the sixth inning, preventing him from being the first Reds player with at least eight consecutive hits since Dmitri Young had nine in a row from June 27-29, 2001. The club record is 10 consecutive hits, held by Woody Williams (1943) and Bip Roberts (1992).
HE SAID IT
"In this ballpark, good hitters when you miss over the plate, they're going to make you pay for it. I was kind of battling uphill the entire game. I just wasn't able to make pitches in the first and then later in the game it was working out a little bit better." -- Harvey
The Reds' road trip makes its way to Arizona for the first of three games at 4:10 p.m. ET Monday from Chase Field. Homer Bailey will start for Cincinnati against Matt Koch. Bailey (1-6, 6.21 ERA) gave up four earned runs and 10 hits over five-plus innings in a no-decision before the Reds lost, 5-4, in 12 innings to the Pirates on Wednesday. Although he did give up one home run, Bailey was encouraged that he often hit his spots and induced softer contact.