For the Cincinnati Reds these days, winning a baseball game is like trying to pull teeth with a pair of tweezers.
It shouldn’t have been difficult Friday night in Coors Field, but it was a squirmy night before they beat the woebegotten Colorado Rockies, 3-2.
First of all, the scheduled Colorado starting pitcher, Franklin Morales, was in a hospital instead of on the mound, witnessing his wife give birth.
So Rockies manager Walt Weiss pitched by committee, using all relief pitchers. The first two, Matt Belisle and Nick Masset, were ex-Reds. For the night the Rockies used six pitchers.
Second of all, the Reds had Johnny Cueto on the mound.
But it took career minor leaguer Kristopher Negron, finally getting his big chance, to single home the winning run in the ninth inning, his fourth hit of the night.
To make it sweeter, his father, mother and grandmother were seated in the stands as witnesses to his biggest night in the majors.
And for once the Reds won a one-run game after going 1-10 since the All-Star break in one-run decisions.
The Reds used fundamental baseball to pull this one out against a team that had lost 38 of its last 51 games.
Another Reds fill-in player, Ramon Santiago, started the ninth with a single. Santiago drove in the Reds’ second run with a single in the fourth.
After Santiago’s single in the ninth, Zack Cozart dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Santiago to second. Billy Hamilton popped out, but Negron drilled the game-winning single through the box and into center field.
Cueto was not at his best, but just good enough to record his 15th win. He is 6-0 in his last seven starts.
Cueto gave up two runs and six hits over eight innings and turned it over to Aroldis Chapman, who benefited from two excellent defensive plays.
The first hitter, Wilin Rosario, blooped one to center and Hamilton made a long sprint and a sliding catch. Charlie Culberson walked. Pinch-hitter Michael McHenry lined one down the first-base line and Brayan Pena speared it and stepped on first for a game-ending double play.
That also ended Chapman’s record streak of striking out at least one batter in 48 straight appearances.
Cueto gave up a leadoff home run in the second inning to Nolan Arrenado to give the Rockies a 1-0 lead.
Cueto helped tie it himself by leading the third with a single to right. Hamilton, who had two hits, singled to put runners on second and first with no outs. Negron contributed here, too, with a perfect sacrifice bunt, putting runners on third and second with one out.
Jay Bruce hit a slow roller to short and Cueto scored to make it 1-1.
Another extra player made a contribution in the fourth. Jack Hannahan, who had been 0 for 14 this season, began the inning with a solid double to right-center. Santiago singled to give the Reds a 2-1 lead.
The Rockies tied it in the sixth on a double by Corey Dickerson. But Cueto shut it down with the bases loaded and one out. Cueto struck out Culberson and D.J. LeMahieu, two of his six strikeouts.
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