By HAL McCOY
If you try to figure out baseball, just stop. Don’t try it. Don’t do it. You can’t.
After giving up 17 runs, 19 hits and seven home runs to the Colorado Rockies Tuesday night, the Cincinnati Reds turned John Lamb loose on them Wednesday night.
That figured to be a major mismatch because Lamb was 0-and-3 with a 6.95 earned run average. When last seen in Milwaukee Lamb lasted 3 2/3 innings and gave up six runs and seven hits.
AND THIS WAS COORS FIELD, also known as Hitter’s Heaven, and it wasn’t Miller Park.
So what did Lamb do? The long-haired blond left hander put on a Clayton Kershaw-like performance in a 7-2 Reds victory.
He pitched seven innings, longest of his career, and gave up one run, six hits, walked one (amazing!) and struck out two to gain his first major league victory.
HE GAVE UP A SINGLE TO the first batter, Charlie Blackmon, then a double for a run to the second batter, D.J. LeMahieu. And he issued his only walk in the first to Carlos Gonzalez with one out.
And that was it.
Over his final six innings he gave up no runs, four hits, no walks. And the Reds turned two double plays to keep him out of harm’s way.
Lamb had to endure some pain, too. In the fourth inning Ryan Raburn ripped a line drive up the middle that struck Lamb flush in the left hip and the ball ricocheted almost to the first base dugout. Although clearly in pain for the next few innings, Lamb endured and transferred the pain to the Colorado bats.
‘Sore, it’s sore,” Lamb told post-game interviewers. “I wanted to be out there. Physically I could feel it, but it didn’t take away from anything I was doing. I’m beginning to think I have a magnet in my pocket (he has been hit more than once).”
OFFENSIVELY, ZACK COZART had two doubles, giving him six hits in the first three games in Coors, and scored two runs. His average is back up to .301.
Billy Hamilton had three hits, two doubles, drove in two runs, scored a run and stole two bases.
Catcher Ramon Cabrera drove in two runs with an RBI ground ball and a single.
Jay Bruce hit the only home run of the game after the two teams combined for 15 home runs in the first two games.
THE REDS SCORED A run in the top of the first on Cozart’s leadoff first pitch single, Hamilton’s double and Joey Votto’s ground ball.
After Colorado tied it, 1-1, in the bottom of the first, the Reds went to work in the second against Rockies starter Tyler Clayton, who came into the game with a 6-3 record and a 2.69 earned run average.
Eugenio Suarez walked to lead the second and Ivan DeJesus Jr., playing second base for injured Brandon Phillips, singled to center. Cabrera bounded into a fielder’s choice as Suarez scored. With two outs, Cozart doubled and Hamilton doubled for two more runs and the Reds led, 4-1.
THE REDS PUSHED IT to 5-1 in the sixth on Suarez’s single (he took second on right fielder Carlos Gonzalez’s error) and Suarez scored on Cabrera’s single.
Tony Cingrani replaced Lamb in the eighth and the Rockies scored an unearned run after Cingrani threw a double play ball into center field.
But Bruce homered in the eighth to make it 6-2 and Hamilton stole a run in the ninth. He singled for his third hit and stole second. The Rockies walked Votto intentionally.
Hamilton and Votto concocted a double steal and when the Rockies tried to throw Votto out at second the throw eluded second baseman D.J. LeMahieu and Hamilton continued home for the 7-2 finish.
The Reds lead the series two games to one and have an opportunity Thursday night to win their first series since they took two of three from these same Rockies April 18-20 in Cincinnati. To do it, Alfredo Simon 1-and-5 with a 9.60 earned run average needs to do what Lamb did.