AP Sports Writer
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DENVER (AP) — Pinch-hitter Noel Cuevas came through with a tiebreaking triple in the sixth inning, Jon Gray settled down after a shaky start and the Colorado Rockies began a long homestand by beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 on Friday night.
Nolan Arenado homered early for Colorado in the first of nine in a row at Coors Field, where the NL West-leading Rockies have struggled this season. The team is tied for the second-fewest home wins (eight) in the majors.
Gray (5-6) threw 100 pitches over six taxing innings in allowing four runs. He didn’t have his command early on, but finally found some semblance of a groove. Typically this season, it’s been the good or the bad with Gray and nothing in between.
Consider: In his six losses, he has a 10.05 ERA. In his five wins, he has a 1.36 mark.
The bullpen did its part, too — Mike Dunn pitched around a leadoff single in the seventh and Adam Ottavino did the same in the eighth. Wade Davis struck out two of three in the ninth to earn his major league-leading 18th save.
Cuevas delivered in the sixth after Tony Wolters led off with a walk. Cuevas lined a slider from Sal Romano (2-6) into the right-field corner for his first career triple.
It was another rough outing for Romano, who lasted 5 1/3 innings and permitted five runs. The right-hander has given up 18 runs over his last 12 2/3 innings.
Eugenio Suarez hit a two-run homer and leads the NL with 40 RBIs. Joey Votto had a single and a double in the opener of a nine-game road swing. The Reds are 9-15 away from home.
Trailing 4-1 in the third, Colorado tied it on Wolters’ bases-loaded walk shortly after Gerardo Parra’s two-run single.
Arenado hit his ninth homer of the season, a solo shot in the first.
Rockies: 2B DJ LeMahieu (sprained left thumb) is playing catch and hitting “a little bit,” he said. LeMahieu was placed on the disabled list May 14. “Getting better every day,” he said.
TO K OR NOT TO K
Arenado isn’t all that troubled by Colorado fanning at least 10 times in 23 games this season.
“Strikeouts aren’t a big deal. It’s a matter of when strikeouts are,” he said. “With nobody on and you strike out, it hurts but it doesn’t hurt you as bad as when you have runners in scoring position and have a chance to get a run on the board.”
NEED FOR SPEED
Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman inserted struggling outfielder Billy Hamilton into the lineup more for his ability to cover spacious Coors Field. Batting ninth in the order, Hamilton went 1 for 4 to slightly raise his average to .200. He also showed off his wheels by running down Parra’s drive in the seventh.
“His defense is extraordinary,” Riggleman said. “When we play in these big parks out West, we like to have him out there.”
Reds: RHP Tyler Mahle (4-6, 4.53 ERA) is tied with Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani for the most strikeouts (52) in the majors this season among pitchers 23 and younger. Mahle will make his first start against Colorado on Saturday.
Rockies: LHP Tyler Anderson (3-1, 4.74) held the Reds to two runs over six innings in a win on May 19, 2017.
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