Reds, Willis suffer another tough-luck loss to Rockies, 3-2
The Associated Press
CINCINNATI — Dontrelle Willis’ record could easily be 6-0 with a break or two.
Troy Tulowitzki hit a two-run homer, Esmil Rogers pitched just well enough for six innings and the Colorado Rockies sent the Cincinnati Reds to their fifth loss in six games with a 3-2 win on Tuesday night.
“He’s a great hitter,” Willis said of Tulowitzki. “As soon as I threw it, I knew it was trouble. We’re friends. He got the timely hit. That’s the difference between winning and losing.”
Willis (0-2) lowered his ERA from 3.41 to 3.16 and finished with a season-high 10 strikeouts.
Willis, who went into the game with Cincinnati’s longest active hitting streak at five games, followed Ramon Hernandez’s second-inning leadoff single with a one-out triple into the corner in right. The triple was the sixth of Willis’s career and first since he hit three for Florida in 2007.
He just couldn’t do it all by himself.
“That was Dontrelle’s best game,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He had his best velocity, his best command. He just left a ball up to Tulowitzki. He knew we needed a lot of innings from him and he pitched like it. That was a great performance pitching, fielding and hitting, all kinds of things. It’s too bad we couldn’t get a win for him. He’ll win some games.”
The Reds took a chance on Willis, who gave them eight strong innings to save a tired bullpen.
Dexter Fowler had two of Colorado’s five hits and drove in the go-ahead run for the Rockies, who have won three of four.
The Rockies loaded the bases on a bunt single by Rogers.
“It all came down to bunts,” Baker said. “We didn’t get an out on a bunt. The pitch to Fowler was up a little bit but if we get the out on the bunt, he’s out of it.”
Lack of clutch hitting continued to plague the Reds, who were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and left Willis still looking for his first win in six starts since being called up from Triple-A on July 10.
“We left a lot of runners out there,” Baker said. “It’s like Ground Hog Day. We say that every night. That was a great performanc by Willis, pitching, hitting and fielding. It’s a shame we couldn’t get him a win. That’s his best game. He’ll win some.”
Ramon Hernandez and Todd Frazier singled to open the sixth against Rogers.
Willis bunted but Rogers was able to field the it and force Hernandez.
“Their pitcher made a great play. That ball was by him,” Willis said. “Tip your hat to him.”
Rogers (6-1) allowed eight hits and two runs with six strikeouts and two walks.
Matt Reynolds, Josh Roenicke and Rex Brothers combined for two scoreless innings of relief before Rafael Betancourt pitched the ninth for his first save of the season and 20th of his career.
Willis retired the first 10 batters before Fowler lined a single up the middle in the fourth. Carlos Gonzalez forced Fowler at second, but Tulowitzki lined a 0-1 pitch 351 feet into the first row of the seats in left for his 22nd homer and a 2-1 Colorado lead.
“I’m happy with the way I’m playing right now but I want to play better,” Willis said. “I’m all about shaking hands at the end of the game. If we win 10-9, I’m happy.”
The Reds tied it in the fourth on Frazier’s baserunning. He was on second with Dave Sappelt on first and one out when Edgar Renteria hit a sharp one-hopper that Rogers knocked down, picked up and threw to Tulowitzki to force Sappelt at second. Frazier rounded third, drawing a throw behind him from Tulowitzki, and slid across the plate just of third baseman Ty Wigginton’s relay and catcher Chris Iannetta’s tag.
The Rockies regained the lead in the fifth, loading the bases with one out on Wigginton’s single to left, Iannetta’s walk and a bunt single by Rogers. Eric Young Jr. grounded into a forceout at the plate, but Fowler gave Colorado a 3-2 lead with a single to center.
Notes: The Reds placed RHP Logan Ondrusek on the 15-day DL with a strained right forearm on Tuesday, retroactive to Monday, and recalled LHP Travis Wood from Triple-A Louisville. … RHP Mike Leake, Cincinnati’s starter against Colorado on Wednesday, has a 2.55 ERA in four starts since the All-Star break, but is only 1-3. … Colorado still had not announced Wednesday’s starting pitcher, but it is expected to be veteran RHP Kevin Millwood, who unofficially joined the team Monday after pitching in the Boston and Yankee farm systems this season. He is a combined 7-2 with a 4.32 ERA in 16 starts. … Millwood is starting in place of RHP Juan Nicasio, who is recovering from surgery to repair a broken bone in his neck after getting hit by a batted ball on Friday. “He had another great day today,” manager Jim Tracy said. “He’s up and moving around and eating. He’s definitely moving in the direction you want to see him.”