CINCINNATI -- On a hot and muggy Saturday afternoon at Great American Ball Park, Reds starting pitcher Wade Miley seemed to get stronger on the mound vs. the Rockies as the day wore on.
Miley delivered seven innings and reached safely in all three of his plate appearances as the Reds rolled to a 10-3 victory over Colorado. Cincinnati (31-31) has taken the first two games of the three-game series and won nine of its last 12 games to reach a .500 record for the first time since May 16.
"We've been kind of staying right there underneath it -- we get to 29-30, 25-26 and then we lose a couple," Miley said. "To finally get a little bit over that little bit of a hump, I hope we can take another one tomorrow and just keep climbing, keep running."
The left-handed Miley, who always works at a brisk pace, gave up six hits and one walk with three strikeouts while throwing 103 pitches. At varying points, Rockies hitters tried to slow him down by calling timeout or by being deliberate in the batter's box.
"I say it all the time -- as soon as guys start calling time, I know we got them," catcher Tucker Barnhart said. "Because they’re thinking more about the pace than they are about what he’s trying to do to them, and at that point, I feel like the at-bat is over with before it even began, to be honest."
All three runs -- including two earned runs -- against Miley came in the top of the second inning when he had a 2-0 lead. They scored following a fielding error by third baseman Eugenio Suárez.
"Early on, I just wasn't locating the cutter and there were some balls hit [to the] pull side on the ground, a little slow," Miley said. "And then as the game went on, I felt a little better and we were able to get through seven."
Joey Votto's two-run single to right field in the third inning put the Reds back in the lead, for good. A two-out rally in the fifth inning saw four straight hits against Rockies starter Germán Márquez -- including Barnhart's two-run double off the left-field wall and an RBI single by Kyle Farmer to produce a 7-3 Reds lead.
"When our team bounces back and gets the lead again, [Miley] came out the next inning and was even better. He’s out there to win the game," said Reds manager David Bell, who was ejected for arguing after the fourth inning. "There’s a lot to be said for that. He wants to pitch well and do his job, but for him, it’s about pitching to the scoreboard, pitching to the game."
In his last start at St. Louis on Sunday, Miley threw five scoreless innings and had a 7-0 lead when he was lifted with 92 pitches -- including 49 over his final two innings. The bullpen blew the lead in the sixth inning, but the Reds won, 8-7, on Jesse Winker's third homer of the game.
Miley was at 94 pitches through six innings against Colorado, but he was allowed to continue as he appeared in complete control. After he collected singles in his previous two at-bats, he walked batting for himself again in the bottom of the sixth. Miley reached third base on Márquez's throwing error, which came in an attempt to nab Miley at second base on a fielder's choice. He then went to the Reds' dugout to cool off during a pitching change before he later scored on Tyler Naquin's two-run single.
Back for the top of the seventh, Miley retired the side in order on only nine pitches and put down 12 of his last 14 batters.
"I thought it was really cool for the staff to let him go out for the seventh, throw over 100 pitches and give us seven strong innings," Barnhart said.
Over 11 starts this season, Miley is 6-4 with a 2.92 ERA, including 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA over his last four games.
But take away his worst start of the season -- a three-inning, eight-run outing at Colorado on May 14 -- and Miley has a 1.84 ERA over his other 10 games. On May 7 at Cleveland, he threw a no-hitter.
"There’s no secret," Barnhart said. "He throws cutters in and throws changeups away to righties. It’s what he does. He’ll throw cutters away from lefties and fastballs away to lefties. It’s beautiful in a way because the game itself is going away from his type of pitcher. And for me to be able to be part of a guy -- I mean it in a complimentary way -- the last of a dying breed, it’s awesome and it’s fun to watch. It’s what makes this game cool."