By HAL McCOY
Call it The Miracle on Blake Street, The Greatest Escape of all escapes.
It looked as if the Cincinnati Reds were dead in their tracks Saturday night in Coors Field.
Yes, the Reds led the Colorado Rockies by one run in the bottom of the ninth. But with closer Raisel Iglesias on the disabled list, Jared Hughes was called upon to finish it.
Quck as a blink, the Rockies had the bases loaded with no outs. Repeat that. Bases loaded. No outs.
Charlie Blackmon grounded to first base. Joey Votto threw home, threw the ball in the dirt and it bounced in front of catcher Tony Cruz. But he grabbed the ball and kept his foot on home plate for the first out.
Bases still loaded. One out.
David Dahl ripped a bullet toward right field. Second baseman Scooter Gennett, situated perfectly, snagged it and threw to shortstop Jose Peraza for a game-ending double play.
Reds win, 6-5.
Other than the ninth inning histrionics, of all the things that happened on the Coors Field dirt and grass was the fact that the Reds turned five double plays and that might be the second most significant.
The five double plays wiped five base runners off the base paths and probably was the major difference in the Reds 6-5 victory.
What else happened? What didn’t.
—Scooter Gennett collected five hits, including a first-inning home run. It was his third game of four or more hits this season, most in the National League, and it was his eighth game with three or more hits. He is hitting .337 with 10 homers and 37 RBI.
—With the Reds down 4-3 in the seventh, Scott Schebler led the inning with a single. Billy Hamilton was asked to bunt, something he just can’t do. And he failed twice. Then with two strikes he shot a ball up the left center gap. He turned it into a run-scoring triple, running from first to third in 10.39 seconds, his all-time best.
Then he scored on Jose Peraza’s single to push the Reds in front, 5-4.
—It didn’t figure the Reds would win a one-run game against the Rockies. Going in, the Rockies were 9-and-4 in one-run games and the Reds were 4-and-11.
—The Reds won despite another awful performance by a starting pitcher. Tyler Mahle was all over Denver with his pitches. Mahle pitched five innings, 102 pitches worth, and gave up four runs, six hits and four walks.
It was a back-and-forth night between the National League West’s first-place team and the National League Central’s last-place team.
The Reds took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Gennett’s home run. The Rockies grabbed a 2-1 lead in the third when Mahle walked two and Dahl crushed a two-run double off the center field wall.
The Reds retrieved the lead, 3-2, in the fourth. Back-up catcher Tony Cruz was 2 for 22 this season when the night began. He singled in the second inning. Then in the fourth, after a walk to Brandon Dixon, Cruz hit a 449-foot home run, longest by a Cincinnati batter this year, a shot that rattled some ketchup bottles in a concession stand on a concourse far up in the left field stands. That gave the Reds a 3-2 lead.
Colorado barged back ahead, 4-3, in the fifth. The first run scored on Charlie Blackmon’s triple and the second run scored on a sacrifice fly when left fielder Adam Duvall couldn’t cleanly get the ball out of his glove.
The Reds scored three in the seventh against the usually reliable Rockies bullpen. Chris Rusin gave up the single to Schebler and the triple to Hamilton (he might have had an inside the park home run, but was held at third).
Brian Shaw replaced Rusin with the scored tied, 4-4, but Peraza’s single made it 5-4 and Shaw’s wild pitch made it 6-4.
Colorado crept to within one run in the eighth against David Hernandez on a double by Nolan Arenado, a wild pitch and a ground ball.
That set up the wild ninth when Hughes filled the bases on an infield hit by Ryan McMahon, a double by Chris Iannetta and a four-pitch walk to Carlos Gonzalez.
Bases loaded. No outs. And the Reds’ prayers were then answered — three outs, no runs, game over.