Less than two months after taking a line drive off his head, Aroldis Chapman pitched in his first game since coming off the disabled list Saturday, striking out three to lockdown a 4-1 Reds win over the Rockies on Mother's Day at Great American Ballpark.
Chapman topped out at 102 mph on his fastball and 89 on his slider. The slider was highly effective against lefties Carlos Gonzalez and Justin Morneau who both struck out swinging. Troy Tulowitzki hit a ball that had home run distance against the Cuban lefty, but he would settle for a walk instead before Chapman found his groove.
His efforts closed out a solid performance from Homer Bailey (3-2) who allowed just one run in 7.1 innings and had six strikeouts. Juan Nicasio (4-2) pitched better than the four runs he gave up, two of which were unearned. He allowed just five hits over six innings with three strikeouts.
One of those unearned runs came in the first inning when Billy Hamilton used his speed to create problems for the Rockies (23-17). Hamilton dropped a bunt for a hit, but Morneau's attempt to throw him out sailed into right field allowing Hamilton to advance to third. Skip Schumaker drove in the first of his two RBI with a ground ball to second to give the Reds a 1-0 lead.
Cincinnati (17-19) used another blunder by the Rockies in the third after Ramon Santiago singled and then was bunted over to second. Santiago moved to third on a balk by Nicasio and then came in to score on a bloop single by Schumaker for a 2-0 advantage. That lead would be cut in half when Charlie Blackmon recorded the first hit off Bailey in the fourth when he sent a 2-2 pitch into the right field stands. Todd Frazier got that run right back with his seventh homer of the season in the bottom of the inning.
Both teams had opportunities in the fifth inning with runners on second and third with one out. Bailey actually had runners on second and third no out, but struck out the next two hitters and got Blackmon to foul out to third. Nicasio was no so fortunate as he got the ground ball he needed for the final out, but Nolan Arenado's throw pulled Morneau off the first base bag. Morneau did make an attempt at tagging Brandon Phillips, but he slid head first under the tag and Santiago came in to score the Reds last run.
Chris Martin and Adam Ottavino tossed scoreless innings for Colorado despite Martin allowing a two-out triple to Hamilton. Bailey was finally taken out in the eighth where Manny Parra took over and retired lefties Blackmon and Saturday's hero Corey Dickerson to end the inning. Then came Chapman in the ninth and after the Tulowitzki walk, he retired the Rockies in order for his first save of the season.
The Reds will get their third day off in the last eight days before welcoming another NL West team in the San Diego Padres (17-21). Mike Leake (2-3, 3.40 ERA) takes the ball for the Reds on Tuesday and will face former Cub Andrew Cashner (2-5, 2.86 ERA).