Helton, Friedrich help Rockies cool red-hot Reds

Helton, Friedrich help Rockies cool red-hot Reds

Helton, Friedrich help Rockies cool red-hot Reds
CINCINNATI -- It wasn't his best stuff, but Christian Friedrich got the bounce-back win he needed.

Friedrich, making his fourth career start -- and his first since getting roughed up to the tune of eight runs on nine hits against Seattle in his last outing -- worked five innings and allowed three runs on seven hits, fanning six, in a 6-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on Friday night.

"It's a competitive effort from Christian Friedrich, but it could be better," Colorado manager Jim Tracy said. "As he goes forward, we'll want to see it get better."

Friedrich was on cruise control through three innings -- no runs, two hits, three strikeouts -- but he ran into trouble in the fourth. Back-to-back doubles by Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier plated three Reds runs and tied the game at 3.

"There are a lot of things I need to improve on, and one of them is fastball command," Friedrich said. "I can't change my mechanics. I got too aggressive and left pitches up. So next time I need to try and stay within myself."

Friedrich allowed Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips to reach base in the fifth but got out of the inning unscathed.

"He was one pitch away from being taken out in the fifth inning, but he battled his rear end off," Tracy said. "I give him credit for hanging in there."

The Colorado bullpen, which leads the league in innings pitched, was relied on heavily once again, as five Rockies combined to work the final four innings. The Reds threatened to tie the game in the seventh, but reliever Matt Belisle struck out Phillips with two outs and runners on second and third. Belisle followed with a scoreless eighth, and Rafael Betancourt notched his eighth save of the season.

"Another tip of the cap to our bullpen," Tracy said. "The key four outs of the game are Matt Belisle's. He had no room for error with Phillips up. I just can't say enough about Matt's body of work."

The Rockies entered the night having lost six of seven, while the Reds had won six straight and had their ace, Johnny Cueto, on the mound. Cueto, however, labored through 4 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on 11 hits. He entered the night 5-1 with a 1.97 ERA but allowed 13 baserunners and saw his ERA climb to 2.53.

"I don't want to [make] excuses," Cueto said via an interpreter. "What happened, happened. I have to get better for the next time out."

Cueto's performance snapped a streak of six consecutive quality starts for Cincinnati, during which Reds starters went 4-0 with a 2.41 ERA.

Todd Helton, who homered and drove in three runs, led the Colorado attack. His second-inning, two-run homer to right was his fifth of the season and the 352nd of his career.

"With the way I've been swinging it, I was just trying to get [Tulowitzki] over," Helton said. "But I was able to drive it a bit."

Tulowitzki got in on the act, too, going 3-for-4 with a double, two singles and an RBI.

After the Reds tied the game at 3 in the fourth, the Rockies responded with two runs in the fifth. Carlos Gonzalez scored on a single by Helton, and Tulowitzki scored on a double by Jordan Pacheco.

The bullpen took it from there.

"They did a hell of a job today," said Friedrich, who has at least six strikeouts in three of four career starts.

Friedrich also notched his first career hit -- a one-out single in the fourth that advanced catcher Wilin Rosario to third base. Rosario scored on a single to center by Eric Young to make it 3-0.

"I couldn't believe it at first; I didn't know whether to round [the base] or just run through it, because I'm always running through it after grounding out or something," Frierich chuckled. "That was probably my first hit since high school. I'm 0-fer since I signed with [the Rockies]."

While Friedrich knows he can improve, his start was just what the doctor ordered for Colorado. The Rockies entered Friday last in the National League with a 5.12 team ERA and allowed at least seven runs on four occasions during their recent six-game losing streak.

"We've got to get deeper in games," Tracy said. "Our guys need to go out there, compete and get us a chance to get involved offensively."

Still, Tracy was encouraged by what he saw from his squad, which has now won two straight.

"We beat a first-place team tonight," he said. "These guys will come together."

Said Helton, "We need as many wins as we can get right now. We've dug ourselves a pretty big hole."

Tony Meale is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.