By Hal McCoy
The mystery that is Cincinnati Reds pitcher Hunter Greene added another chapter Monday night in Coors Field.
The kid with a wealth of talent hasn’t been able to harness it so far this season and he was at his worst against the Colorado Rockies in a 9-8 defeat.
In four innings, Greene gave up six runs, nine hits, two home runs and a walk in a game the Rockies did all they could to hand the game to the Reds.
The Reds were taking no charity on this night.
Rockies rookie center fielder Brenton Doyle was a one-man destruction crew. While batting ninth, he hit two home runs, a double, drove in three, scored three and made two stupendous catches.
The Reds led, 1-0, in the first, then played catch-up all evening. They were tied 4-4 and 6-6 but couldn’t break through.
They muffed a big opportunity in the ninth. They trailed, 9-7, and Rockies closer Pierce Johnson did all he could to blow it.
The Reds called up 5-foot-8 infielder Matt McLain before the game because he was brutalizing Triple-A pitching at Louisville.
In his second at bat, he lined one to center and never stopped, hustling it into second base for his first major league hit and then scored his first major league run.
He led off the ninth and Johnson walked him on four pitches. Jake Fraley lined one into the left center gap and Doyle chased it down with a sliding catch.
Spencer Steer singled for his third hit and Tyler Stephenson popped out. Nick Senzel picked on a 3-and-0 pitch and drilled a run-scoring single to pull the Reds within 9-8. With the potential tying run on second and the go-ahead run on first, Henry Ramos ended it by flying out to Doyle in center.
With four of the Rockies starting pitchers on the injured list, manager Bud Black has had to improvise. One of his moves was to take Connor Seabold out of the bullpen and drop him into the rotation.
Jonathan India greeted him with a single and he came around to score on Steer’s single to give the Reds their only lead, 1-0.
Greene pitched a 1-2-3 first with two strikeouts, but the Rockies rocked him for four runs and five hits in the second.
It began when Mike Moustakas, the man the Reds paid $14 million just to go away, led the second with a 454-foot home run into the upper deck. Colorado is paying him $100,000 and the Reds are footing the rest of the $14 million.
Randal Grichuk followed with a double and Harold Castro singled him home. With two outs Doyle doubled and Charlie Blackmon tripled home two runs. And the Reds trailed, 4-1.
The Reds scored one in the third on McLain’s hustle double and Fraley’s single.
They tied it, 4-4, with two unearned runs in the fourth when right fielder Kris Bryant dropped Nick Senzel’s line drive and Stuart Fairchild hit a sacrifice fly and India singled home a run.
Greene was not up to holding on to the tie. He gave up a two-run home run to Doyle in the fourth and the Rockies led, 6-4.
The Reds charged back to tie it, 6-6, in the fifth with back-to-back doubles by Steer and Tyler Stephenson and a single by Ramos.
The Rockies reclaimed the lead with two runs in the seventh off Ben Lively and Lucas Sims on a two-run double by Castro off Sims.
Cincinnati closed to within one, 8-7, in the eighth on a double by Ramos, who stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly from Wil Myers.
The Rockies scored the run they needed in the eighth on Doyle’s second home run, this one off Buck Farmer to make it, 9-7.
That set up the last gasp try by the Reds in the ninth that fell a run short.
With 12 hits in hitter-friendly Coors, the Reds had plenty of offense. Steer had three hits while India, Fraley and Ramos had two each.
The pitching, though, didn’t hold up. . .on either side.