Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Homer Bailey delivers a pitch. File photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
DENVER — After two miserable starts that yielded scant progress, Homer Bailey took a sizeable step forward on the comeback trail Tuesday night.
The erstwhile Cincinnati Reds ace held the Colorado Rockies to one run in six innings and earned his first win since Aug. 12, 2016, as the Reds routed the Rockies 8-1.
Cincinnati’s Scott Schebler went 3-for-4 with a homer, and Jose Peraza and Scooter Gennett also went deep for the Reds.
Three surgeries have limited Bailey to just 11 starts dating from Sept. 5, 2014. Two of those outings came late last month at Washington and against Milwaukee after Bailey was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list. The games left Bailey with a 27.00 ERA as he worked a combined 4 2/3 innings and was strafed for 12 hits, three of them homers, and 14 runs.
Bailey (1-2) was very efficient Tuesday, though, throwing 65 of 99 pitches for strikes. He gave up eight hits, all singles, with no walks and three strikeouts.
“I thought as the game went on, he was able to do what he needed to do with the slider, so he didn’t concede,” Price said. “(The slider let Bailey) get away from having to pump fastball in fastball counts. And that’s kind of at times what hurt him in his first two starts was predictability when he was behind in the count.”
Bailey got Mark Reynolds to ground into an inning-ending double play in the first when the Rockies scored their lone run on three consecutive one-out singles. He stranded runners at second and third in the fifth with the Reds leading 4-1 by striking out Trevor Story and getting Alexi Amarista to ground out.
“I didn’t give any free passes,” Bailey said. “Everything was a little bit sharper (than the two previous starts). We had good command of everything tonight.”
Rockies rookie left-hander Kyle Freeland (8-7) yielded five runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. He allowed four runs in the first three innings, all with two outs, and fell to 0-3 with a 7.27 ERA in his past three starts.
The teams traded runs in the first, the Reds scoring on Adam Duvall’s RBI double. The hit scored Billy Hamilton, who opened the game with a single.
Hamilton’s two-run single in the second gave the Reds a 3-1 lead. Schebler led off the inning with a double, and Freeland walked No. 8 hitter Tucker Barnhart with one out. Bailey sacrificed, putting runners at second and third, and Hamilton followed with a single to short left.
Peraza’s RBI single in the third gave Cincinnati a 4-1 lead. The ball dropped in front of left fielder Raimel Tapia, who has shown hesitancy coming in on balls. Peraza’s hit was the third straight two-out single off Freeland.
“From my vantage point, it was a pretty rough outing,” Freeland said. “They had some bleeders fall in that turned into runs. And they had some hard-hit balls on mistake pitches. My command is not where it needs to be.”
Peraza gave the Reds a 5-1 lead when he belted his fourth homer with one out in the sixth. He connected on the 92 mph fastball Freeland threw on a full count. Barnhart then drew the second of his three walks, ending Freeland’s outing.
The Reds broke the game open against struggling Adam Ottavino in the eighth when Schebler hit his 21st homer and pinch hitter Gennett belted a two-run homer to make it 8-1. Gennett’s third career pinch-hit homer gave him 14 long balls for the season, tying the career high he set last year.
Ottavino has been scored upon in five of his past six games and has a 23.14 ERA in that 4 2/3-inning stretch, raising his overall ERA to 6.00.
Colorado lost for the 11th time in 13 games. During that span, the Rockies have hit just eight home runs, they are batting .206 (21-for-102) with runners in scoring position and have gone without an extra-base hit in five games, including Tuesday.
“We need five or six guys swinging the bat well,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “We don’t have that now.”
NOTES: Rockies RHP Chad Bettis (testicular cancer) threw 25 pitches to hitters in his first live batting practice session. He will face hitters again Friday. … Colorado 1B Mark Reynolds’ single in the sixth broke a string of 18 consecutive hitless at-bats. … Rockies OF Gerardo Parra (right quad strain) began what is expected to be a three-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Albuquerque, playing five innings in left field and going 0-for-2. … Rockies 2B DJ LeMahieu, who left the Monday game in the ninth with right groin soreness, did not play Tuesday on a planned rest day. … Reds CF Billy Hamilton was back in the lineup after not playing Monday due to lower back stiffness. He went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. … Cincinnati SS Zack Cozart returned to the lineup after a scheduled day off Monday as he eases his way back from a right quad strain that sidelined him for four weeks. He finished 0-for-5.