By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Starting pitching was the key to the Reds' sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend.
The starters went at least six innings in each of the three games in Los Angeles, and gave up a total of three runs.
Let's just say the Reds didn't get that kind of performance from Cory Lidle in their 8-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies Tuesday night before a crowd of 17,389 at Great American Ball Park.
Lidle, coming off his best performance as a Red, lasted only five innings and allowed six runs on 11 hits. He followed the Reds' edict and pitched to contact, but it was hard contact.
Lidle's only walk was an intentional one. But he gave up two home runs and three doubles and struck out only one.
"The difference between tonight and his last start was location more than anything," Reds manager Dave Miley said.
"I left some balls up," he said. "I didn't locate on a consistent basis."
Jeromy Burnitz and Matt Holliday hit back-to-back home runs twice for the Rockies in this one - once off Lidle and once off Brian Reith.
The Reds didn't tear it up offensively. They had four hits, and only two came after the first inning - a home run in the second and a single in the fifth, both from Wily Mo Pena.
Former Red Shawn Estes went seven innings, allowing three runs on four hits to improve to 6-2 for Colorado.
Estes' ERA is a pedestrian 6.31, but he knows when to pitch well - the Rockies are averaging an even 8.00 runs in his starts.
You wouldn't have expected the Rockies to get to Lidle the way they did. He gave up only two runs on six hits in the Reds' 2-1 loss in San Diego on May 12, retiring 15 in a row during one stretch in that outing.
But on Tuesday, he never got into a rhythm. Lidle needed more pitches to go five innings (87) than he did to go eight innings May 12 (85).
The Reds loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning for the second straight game.
D'Angelo Jimenez, back in the leadoff spot, singled to start it off. Barry Larkin followed with a bunt single, and Ken Griffey Jr. walked to load the bases.
Sean Casey and Adam Dunn each got a run in with a fielder's choice groundout.
"We didn't do much after that," Miley said. "We had the bases loaded and nobody out, but we couldn't tack on anything after that."
The lead didn't last an inning.
Lidle retired the first four batters he faced, then suddenly became very hittable.
Burnitz hit a 3-2 pitch out to center. Holliday hit the very next pitch out to just about the same place, and the game was tied at 2.
When Lidle saw those go out, he knew it might be a rough night
"The ball carried farther tonight," he said. "I don't remember the ball jumping like it did tonight."
But Lidle was not out of the inning. Charles Johnson and Brad Hawpe both hit ropes for singles, and Estes bunted them to second and third. Luis Gonzalez got Johnson in with a single off third baseman Tim Hummel's glove.
Pena tied it for the Reds with a home run to center in the third. The home run - his second of the year - broke a career-high 0-for-19 streak for Pena.
Lidle seemed to find himself after that. He gave up a leadoff double to Todd Helton in the third, then retired five straight.
But he gave up a single to Estes, and Gonzalez beat out an infield single with two outs in the fifth.
Royce Clayton made Lidle pay with a two-run double to left-center.
Lidle had more two-out trouble in the fifth. Holliday singled and Johnson doubled him in to make the Rockies' lead 6-3.
Estes retired eight straight after Pena's homer.
"We started good in the first inning," Jimenez said. "But, after that, he shut us down. He mixed up his pitches good. He pitched good."
|Griffey Jr. cf||3||0||0||0||1||1||.242|
LOB-Colorado 8, Cincinnati 3. 2B-Clayton (14), Helton (12), CJohnson (6). HR-WPena (2), off Estes; Holliday 2 (7), off Reith, Lidle; Burnitz 2 (12), off Reith, Lidle. RBIs-LuGonzalez (14), Clayton 2 (14), Burnitz 2 (31), Holliday 2 (17), CJohnson (18), Casey (26), Dunn (25), WPena (6). S-Estes. GIDP-Dunn. DP-Colorado 1.
|Estes W, 6-2||7||4||3||3||2||7||90||6.31|
|Lidle L, 2-4||5||11||6||6||1||1||88||5.24|
IBB-off Lidle (Hawpe) 1. WP-Reith.
Umpires-Home, Kerwin Danley; First, Marvin Hudson; Second, Dana DeMuth; Third, Jim Joyce.
T-2:24. A-17,389 (42,271).
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