Aggressive Jennings tames Reds, 10-5

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2003

DENVER (AP) - Fed up with his poor start to the season, Jason Jennings decided to get aggressive.

So far, it's working.

Jennings overcame a shaky fourth inning for his second win of the season, and Preston Wilson homered and drove in four runs as the Colorado Rockies beat the Cincinnati Reds 10-5 Tuesday night.

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''I'm trying to get myself ahead, be aggressive and just keep it down and see what happens,'' Jennings said.

Jennings (2-3) was last year's NL Rookie of the Year, but got off to a slow start this season in part because he kept falling behind hitters. The trend continued early in his last outing, a 6-4 loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday, but then things started to turn around.

Jennings allowed five runs in the first inning, but gave up just two more hits the final five innings and started to regain the bite on his sinker.

It carried over against the Reds.

Jennings was hitting his spots with his sinker and limited the damage in a sticky fourth inning to win for the first time since April 6. He allowed two runs on five hits in six innings after giving up 11 earned runs the previous 16 innings.

''It was a good ballgame for Jason tonight,'' Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. ''It's more of what we've seen in the past from him.''

The Rockies won for the 11th time in 13 games at home with another big night with their bats.

Larry Walker, Charles Johnson and Ronnie Belliard homered to give Colorado its most homers since the final game in 2001. The Rockies had 13 hits and are averaging 7.2 runs per game at home compared to 5.2 on the road.

Belliard's homer, which led off the eighth inning, was his first in 152 at-bats.

''If most people had their druthers they would skip pitching here,'' said Reds manager Bob Boone, whose team lost for the third time in eight games after opening the season 5-13. ''They have a pretty good lineup that you have to pitch to all the way to the bottom.''

Sean Casey broke out of a 1-for-18 slump with three hits, including two homers, but the rest of the Reds managed just four more hits against four Colorado pitchers.

Casey had a solo homer in the seventh off Dan Miceli and added his fourth of the season, a two-run shot off Steve Reed in the ninth, for his fourth career multihomer game.

''I love hitting here,'' said Casey, a career .536 hitter at Coors Field. ''I wouldn't mind hitting here all the time.''

Cincinnati starter Chris Reitsma (1-1) could probably do without pitching at Coors ever again.

He struggled in his only other start in Colorado - eight runs in three-plus innings - and the Rockies didn't waste any time getting after him again.

Colorado scored three runs in the first inning on a groundout by Walker and singles by Wilson and Jose Hernandez. Belliard made it 4-0 in the second with a fielder's choice.

Reitsma allowed career-highs of nine runs on 12 hits in five innings after throwing eight scoreless innings against Los Angeles on Wednesday in his first start of the season.

''I didn't make very good pitches. It was one of those days when things didn't go my way,'' Reitsma said. ''They were able to capitalize on it and they made it into a one sided game.''

Jennings also had a hand in it by minimizing the damage in a sticky fourth inning.

The Reds opened the inning with three straight singles, with Juan Castro's liner to left knocking in Cincinnati's first run. Jennings hit Jason LaRue before striking out Reitsma, then Felipe Lopez made it 4-2 with a groundout to first.

Cincinnati had a chance at two more runs on a groundball up the middle by Casey, but Belliard flagged it down deep in the hole to get a forceout at second and end the inning.

''That was a huge play and probably saved two runs,'' Jennings said.

The Rockies seemed to gain momentum from Jennings' escape act, scoring four runs in the bottom half on consecutive homers by Wilson and Walker.

Wilson hit a three-run shot to left-center, his fifth of the season, and Walker sent the next pitch out to right-center for his fourth.

Johnson made it 9-2 in the fifth, leading off with his fourth homer of the season.

Notes: LaRue returned after missing Sunday's game against San Diego with a bruised shoulder. . … Rockies LHP Denny Neagle will make a rehab start Class-A Visalia on Thursday. He has not pitched this season due to left elbow stiffness and spent the past few weeks in extended spring training. … Colorado's starters are 8-1 at home this season. … The Reds have been outscored 27-5 in the first inning this season. … The homers by Wilson and Walker marked the 100th time in team history the Rockies hit consecutive homers. It was the third time this season.