Reds knock three homers, power past Rox

Reds knock three homers, power past Rox

Reds knock three homers, power past Rox
CINCINNATI -- A whole lot of Reds home runs have left Great American Ball Park this week, but none of the celebratory fireworks popped in the name of Chris Heisey.

In fact, there had been nary a long ball from Heisey all season in his first 109 at-bats. It was a little surprising since the left fielder had 26 combined over the previous two seasons, including 18 in 2011.

That all changed when Heisey hit a three-run homer and was the first of three Reds to go deep during a 10-3 thumping of the Rockies on Saturday. It was Cincinnati's season-high scoring output so far in 2012, and it's evened the series heading into Sunday's rubber game.

"It was one of those things where it just wasn't happening," said Heisey of his homer drought. "I've been feeling great at the plate for two weeks now. It was a matter of time."

The high-octane power, combined with another nice evening for the Reds bullpen, helped offset a poor showing from starting pitcher Mike Leake. Coming off of very nice back-to-back starts, Leake lasted only 3 2/3 innings vs. Colorado and allowed three runs and nine hits. He walked one and had four strikeouts.

"We needed it badly," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of the offense. "Leake couldn't keep the ball down tonight. That club there can hit. You have to outscore them and that's what we did tonight."

Colorado began the game with a Marco Scutaro triple off of the left field wall, followed by an RBI single lined to left field from Tyler Colvin. Leake had lengthy first and second innings, which had his pitch count at 52 early.

"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. I was missing just off instead of on the plate. When I was on the plate, I was too much on the plate. It was kind of missed spots today."

Rockies starter Jeremy Guthrie faced seven batters in the bottom half of the inning, which started when Zack Cozart reached second base on third baseman Jordan Pacheco's throwing error. The Reds ignited a two-out rally with a Brandon Phillips double to left field scoring Cozart. Following a Jay Bruce walk, Heisey sent an 0-1 fastball to left field for a three-run home run.

"It was not like I was losing sleep over it," said Heisey, who's had few near misses on homers this season. "At least I had been getting hits recently. That's really the important thing for me, is getting on base and helping the team."

In his last 12 games, Heisey is 17-for-42 (.404) and has raised his batting average from .200 to .277. Baker wasn't too surprised it took so long for Heisey to hit one over the fence.

"It goes like that sometimes," Baker said. "And they're pitching him differently. They know Heisey has power. They're throwing him differently this year than they were last year. Now it's up to him to make the adjustment back to what they're trying to do to him. They're not just going to keep throwing those pitches and let him hit them out of the ballpark."

The Reds' lead was 5-1 when the Rockies knocked Leake around in the fourth. Pacheco and Wil Nieves began the inning with two hard-hit doubles. Pacheco scored on the Nieves two-bagger to center field and Colvin's lined a two-out single to center field to end Leake's evening.

"We did a great job early in the game offensively," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy, whose team notched 10 hits on the night.

But only one of those hits came against the Reds bullpen, which had another stellar night. J.J. Hoover, Sam LeCure, Logan Ondrusek and Sean Marshall combined for one hit allowed over 5 1/3 scoreless innings.

"All of them came in and did an outstanding job," Baker said. "We need some innings from [Sunday starter Mat] Latos though. They went from not pitching at all to pitching every day. That's how it goes."

It was Hoover, who followed Leake with 1 1/3 innings pitched to get his first Major League win.

"We're all just trying to go out there and do our jobs and give the team a chance to stay in the game if we come in behind, or keep the game where it's at if we're in the lead," Hoover said.

Devin Mesoraco kept the Reds' lead padded with a leadoff homer to left field in the bottom of the fourth against Guthrie. In the seventh with two outs against Matt Reynolds, pinch-hitter Ryan Ludwick crushed a three-run homer into the center field bullpen to put the game away. It was the first pinch-hit homer for Cincinnati this season.

The Reds have hit 13 home runs since opening a seven-game home stand on Monday.

Coupled with the second-place Cardinals' loss to the Phillies, the first-place Reds stretched their lead to 1 1/2 games in the National League Central.

"It doesn't mean much right now. It's early," Ludwick said. "Everybody in here knows we've got a good ball club. We believe in each other. We're two months in. It's still early. We've got a long ways to go."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.