CINCINNATI (AP) – Carlos Gonzalez arrived early at Great American Ball Park expecting to face Johnny Cueto. He got a little extra practice on his swing, trying to make it faster for one of the toughest pitchers in the majors.
The Rockies’ home run leader was ready to face the best. Instead, he got a rookie making his first start in the majors, and simply overpowered him.
Gonzalez tied his career high with three homers – two of them off Pedro Villarreal – and Troy Tulowitzki went 5 for 5 with a pair of homers on Wednesday night, sending Colorado to a 12-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
“Today I showed up early, tried working on my hands, feeling good at the plate,” said Gonzalez, who has 17 homers. “This is a good place to hit.”
The Rockies hadn’t hit six homers in a game since they had that many against the Marlins on July 4, 2008, according to STATS LLC.
“When we get some guys hitting in our lineup at the same time, it’s a dangerous lineup,” manager Walt Weiss said. “Two really good players in the middle of our lineup were swinging the bat well tonight.”
Gonzalez got Colorado’s splurge going with a solo shot and a three-run homer off Villarreal (0-1), who was roughed up by one of the NL’s top offenses in his first big league start. The right-hander was called up from Triple-A earlier in the day because Cueto had lingering problems with a muscle in the back of his pitching shoulder.
Gonzalez was mentally ready to face Cueto, against whom he is 4 for 10 with a homer. Instead, he got a young pitcher just trying to throw strikes.
“It’s a weird feeling,” Gonzalez said. “Sometimes you like facing a guy you’ve seen a few times rather than a guy you’ve never seen before. Tonight we saw a lot of pitches in the strike zone.”
Tulowitzki tied his career high with five hits, including a two-run homer and a solo shot. Todd Helton also homered as the Rockies piled up a season-high 20 hits, the most allowed by Cincinnati since 2009. The Reds came in with the second-best earned run average in the NL.
“The young kid had a rough night,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He was leaving balls up in the zone and out over the heart of the plate. You do that and you’re in trouble.”
Jon Garland (4-6) gave up four runs – all in the first – and lasted six innings.
The Rockies took the last two games of their series, ending a streak of six straight losses against Cincinnati. Colorado is 3-6 against the Reds over the last two seasons.
“To beat those guys two out of three is big,” Helton said. “That’s a good team over there.”
The Reds put Cueto on the 15-day disabled list before the game, the second time this season that their top starter has been sidelined by a strained muscle in the back of his shoulder. Cincinnati’s top starter was out from April 15 to May 19 with the injury.
Villarreal was promoted instead of left-hander Tony Cingrani because it was his turn to start at Triple-A Louisville. Weiss didn’t change his lineup for the right-handed Villarreal, who lasted only 3 2-3 innings and allowed 10 hits and six runs.
Gonzalez hit his solo homer in the first. Tulowitzki had a two-run shot in the third, his second homer in two games. He also had a two-run homer in the eighth inning Tuesday for a 5-4 win.
Gonzalez’s three-run homer in the fourth – one that went an estimated 476 feet – gave him 10 multihomer games in his career, two this season. He added a two-run shot in the eighth off Manny Parra. He also hit three in a game against Houston on May 30 last season.
Garland also had a rough time in the first inning, when Xavier Paul hit a three-run shot for a 4-1 lead. Garland is one of the NL’s best at getting ground balls. After Paul’s homer, he retired 13 of the next 17 batters on grounders or strikeouts.
Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips missed his fourth straight game with a bruised left forearm, which was hit by a pitch. He’s expected back for a weekend series against first-place St. Louis.
NOTES: An MRI on Rockies starter Tyler Chatwood found nothing more than inflammation in his triceps. He’s expected to miss one start. Chatwood had to leave his start on Monday in Cincinnati during the fifth inning because of soreness in the triceps. … Rockies CF Dexter Fowler was sick and out of the starting lineup. … Reds OF Chris Heisey plans to start a rehab assignment on Friday at Triple-A Louisville. Heisey has been on the disabled list since April 29 with a pulled right hamstring. … Bengals players took batting practice before the game. They’re holding supervised workouts this week.
By Joe Kay, AP Baseball Writer
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