Starting pitching continues to struggle in loss

Starting pitching continues to struggle in loss

Starting pitching continues to struggle in loss
CINCINNATI -- In a game in which both sides would've preferred to preserve their bullpen, neither got its wish.

The Rockies, who own the most-worked bullpen in the National League, and the Reds, who saw their ace, Johnny Cueto, fail to get out of the fifth inning Friday night, pinned their pitching hopes on Jeremy Guthrie and Mike Leake, respectively, on Saturday. Both entered the game with ERAs in the 5s, and both struggled with command, combining for 188 pitches in 8 2/3 innings.

Six relief pitchers later -- four for Cincinnati, two for Colorado -- the Reds won 10-3 in front 35,314 fans at Great American Ball Park.

"We didn't pitch well tonight; we really didn't," Colorado manager Jim Tracy said. "This is a very tough ball club and not a very good ball park to pitch behind in the count to people. Four walks, three home runs hit, they scored 10 -- that's going to get you more times than not."

Leake, who went winless in his first seven starts this season, lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on nine hits. He threw 84 pitches, walking one and striking out four.

"I was kind of beat a little bit," Leake said. "I still wasn't making pitches. I was up in the zone today and not getting quality stuff moving down."

The Rockies ripped four hits off of Leake in the first inning, including a triple by Marco Scutaro, but were only able to plate one run.

That proved costly.

The Reds jumped on Guthrie in the bottom of the frame, scoring four two-out runs; Brandon Phillips doubled in Zack Cozart, who reached on a throwing error by Colorado third baseman Jordan Pacheco, and Chris Heisey hit his first home run of the season -- a three-run blast to left.

"I never really got into much of a groove," Guthrie said. "I fought myself early in the count throwing balls, and that made it tougher to face a pretty good lineup. Just not a well-pitched game on my end."

Guthrie has allowed multiple home runs in four of seven starts this season, including five in his last two outings. He yielded a solo shot to Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco in the fourth inning that traveled 406 feet.

Only two of Guthrie's six runs were earned, but he gave up 10 hits and needed 104 pitches to get through five innings. He struck out five.

"The command of his fastball has not been what it has been," Tracy said. "When Jeremy Guthrie is commanding the strike zone, the ball is pounding down, the fastball is well-spotted and he pitches ahead, which helps his secondary pitches immensely. We're just not getting that right now."

Colorado trailed 5-1 in the fourth inning before getting RBI hits from Wil Nieves and Tyler Colvin, whose single knocked Leake out of the game, to make it 5-3. Reliever J.J. Hoover, however, struck out Carlos Gonzalez to retire the side, and Mesoraco homered to lead off the bottom of the inning to make it 6-3.

Hoover and Sam LeCure combined for five strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings for Cincinnati. Neither allowed a hit.

Colorado's Esmil Rogers relieved Guthrie and pitched a scoreless sixth -- striking out two in the process -- but he opened the seventh with two walks and a wild pitch. Phillips singled in Drew Stubbs to make it 7-3, and Ryan Ludwick broke the game open later in the inning with a 421-foot, three-run homer off Matt Reynolds to cap the scoring. It was the Reds' first pinch-hit homer this season.

"We needed [the offense] badly," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "That club [Colorado] can hit. You have to outscore them, and that's what we did tonight."

While the Rockies fell to 17-28 with the loss, there were bright spots. Pacheco extended his hitting streak to 11 games, going 3-4 with two singles and a double. It was his first three-hit game of the season.

"We know this kid is very capable offensively," Tracy said, "and he showed that tonight."

Meanwhile, Michael Cuddyer, who missed Friday's game with a stiff neck, went 0-2 but gunned down Joey Votto on a play at the plate in the seventh inning. Votto was attempting to tag on a fly out by Jay Bruce.

The Rockies, who were seeking their second three-game winning streak of the season, fell to 2-3 on their current road trip and are 8-14 away from Coors Field.

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