By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
DENVER The Reds showed in sweeping the Colorado Rockies that they have a little fight left in them. Make that a lot of fight.
The Reds beat the Rockies 7-4 Saturday to complete a three-game sweep at Coors Field, and added a bench-clearing brawl in the seventh inning.
Former Red Stan Belinda hit Ken Griffey Jr. with a pitch in the top of the seventh. Griffey and Larry Walker had been hit in Thursday night's game. Both benches cleared but no punches were thrown.
That was not the case Saturday.
Scott Sullivan hit Colorado's Brian Hunter with the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh. Hunter immediately charged the mound.
Ken Griffey Jr. glares at Stan Belinda after being hit earlier in the inning.
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Griffey and Barry Larkin restrain Belinda after Hunter charged the mound.
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Larry Walker separates Griffey Jr. from Belinda.
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Sullivan landed three quick punches and pinned Hunter down. The melee was on as the benches and bullpens emptied. It was a typical baseball fight: lots of pushing, shoving and wrestling, but few punches.
Both sides claimed they weren't throwing at anyone.
In that situation, in this ballpark, that's the last thing I want to do is hit Brian Hunter, Sullivan said. I throw inside. If you look at my stats, I hit a lot guys.
Hunter saw it differently. Reds captain Barry Larkin said Friday that the time to retaliate is the next half inning.
I knew it was coming, Hunter said. I'm a little upset with myself. I said if he hits me down low, I'll just take my base. But when you go above the belt, that's someone's career.
I wanted to go out there, take off my helmet and hit him between the eyes ... I wanted to knock his eyeball out.
Nothing like that happened. The highlights: Chris Stynes got his jersey torn off, Sean Casey had Brent Mayne pinned to the ground and Griffey wrestled free of two Rockies to join the fracas.
Sullivan was the only Red ejected. His line: One pitch, three punches thrown. Hunter, Colorado manager Buddy Bell and first baseman Todd Helton also were ejected.
Thank God, no one got hurt, former Rockie Dante Bichette said. I ended up grabbing one of my best friends over there, Terry Shumpert. I saw a guy who was very frustrated.
The loss was the 10th in a row for the Rockies, but Bichette said, teams who hit Griffey must expect something in return.
I haven't asked Sully if he did it on purpose, Bichette said. But this team simply has to protect Griffey. He's the one guy you can't let other teams hit. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. Drill me.
The ironic thing about hitting Griffey was it blew up in the Rockies' faces.
Bichette followed with a two-run homer, giving the Reds a 7-3 lead. There was talk that Thursday's shenani gans might wake up the Rockies. It now looks like the Reds are the team that has been awoken.
The Reds have won three straight and eight of 11. They've moved to within 31/2 games of the New York Mets in the National League wild card race.
Dante Bichette watches his 2-run HR.
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We're trying to be a team, Griffey said. You win as a team; you lose as a team.
The Reds are hitting as a team right now.
The offense enjoyed another game in the thin air of Colorado. Coors king Stynes had three hits, an RBI and a run scored. Barry Larkin, Bichette and Pokey Reese had two hits each. One of Reese's hits was his eighth home run of the year, a 414-foot shot to right.
Scott Williamson went six innings to improve his record to 3-6.
We've said since the beginning, if we get good pitching we have a chance to win, McKeon said.
But McKeon was concerned after the brawl. Dennys Reyes took over for Sullivan. (No one with the Reds would say Sullivan intentionally hit Hunter, but Reyes did show up for the fight with his glove and was warming up when it started).
Reyes struck out Jeff Cirillo and then got Larry Walker to ground into a double play to preserve the 7-3 lead.
That was the key, McKeon said. Big Sweat (Reyes) got us out of the jam after all the excitement.
Danny Graves closed it for his 15th save.
The feud is likely to die over the winter. The Reds are done for the year with the Rockies.
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