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Rockies’ bullpen implodes as Reds split four-game series at Coors Field

With a fine, seven-inning performance from starter Antonio Senzatela, the white-hot bat of Josh Fuentes and a 6-1 lead heading into the eighth inning, what could go possibly go wrong for the Rockies?

Why, a meltdown by their flammable bullpen, of course.

Cincinnati took advantage of four walks, two hit batters and a wild pitch by Colorado relievers to score four runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth to beat the Rockies, 7-6, Sunday afternoon at Coors Field.

Ultimately, the Reds scored the winning run when Nick Senzel scored on Jordan Sheffield’s wild pitch in the ninth.

The Reds’ four-run rally in the eighth turned what had looked like a walk in the ballpark into a gut-churner. The Reds sent nine batters to the plate — the key hit a two-run, bases-loaded single by Tyler Naquin. Had it not been for a circus catch by Yonathan Daza on Nick Senzel’s line drive to right, things could have been worse.

Manager Bud Black had to use three relievers in the inning: Yency Almonte (three runs, two walks in one-third inning), Justin Lawrence (one run, three hits in one-third inning) and Tyler Kinley. Kinley put an end to that particular drama when pinch-hitter Jesse Winker flew out to Garrett Hampson in deep center field.

But wait … there was more. The Reds won the game in the ninth against right-hander Mychal Givens, who surrendered two runs on two hits and two walks.

Instead of winning the four-game series, Colorado had to settle for a split and a 3-4 homestand. Up next is a three-game test at San Diego beginning Monday night. The Rockies own a 2-14 record away from Coors Field, so the immediate future doesn’t look bright.

Senzatela allowed just four hits, struck out two and walked one. He got a chest bump from manager Bud Black in the Rockies’ dugout after setting the Reds down in order in the seventh.

A number of Colorado hitters got hot on the homestand, but none sizzled like Fuentes. Over his past five games, he hit 11-for-22, with two home runs, three doubles and 11 RBIs.

With two RBIs Sunday, Fuentes has driven in multiple runs in five consecutive games, tying him with Charlie Blackmon (April 21-25, 2017) and Dante Bichette (July 23-28, 1995) for the longest such streak in franchise history.

The Reds started Jeff Hoffman, the former Rockies right-hander who was the centerpiece of the Troy Tulowitzki trade way back in 2015. The Rockies dealt him to Cincinnati last November in a deal that brought reliever Robert Stephenson to Colorado.

When Hoffman pitched for the Rockies there was often one inning that derailed him. It happened again Sunday in the fifth. Colorado scored five runs and Hoffman’s throwing error to first on Senzatela’s sacrifice bunt added fuel to the rally. The big hits were Fuentes’ two-run double to left and an RBI double to center by Connor Joe. Plus, Dom Nunez almost hit a two-run homer to right but it was ruled a foul ball after a video review.

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