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Hal: Disaster in Denver for Reds

It was Disaster in Denver, Destruction in Denver, Devastation in Denver.

On Sunday in Coors Field, the Cincinnati Reds blew big leads in both games of a doubleheader to the Colorado Rockies, the biggest meltdown since Three Mile Island.

They had a four-run lead in the ninth inning of game one and lost, 10-9. They had a three-run lead in the seventh of game two and lost, 10-5.

What it means is that the Reds can forget about even thinking about what was already slim hopes for a National League Central title. They trail the Milwaukee Brewers by 8 ½ games with 38 to play.

And the wild card. It, too, is slipping quickly away. The Reds have four teams ahead of them in the wild card standings.

In game one the Cuban Missile became the Cuban Whistle — he blew it.

Chapman was brought into the game in the ninth inning to protect a 9-5 lead, a non-save situation. Without the save incentive, Chapman is not always at his best. On this night he was at his worst.

He walked the only four hitters he faced, four straight. He threw 28 pitches and didn’t get an out, throwing 16 balls and 12 strikes.

So he was removed with one run in and the bases loaded, replaced by J.J. Hoover, 1-8 on the season. Hoover gave up a sacrifice fly to make it 9-7 with one out. He retired Charlie Blackmon on a line drive for the second out.

Hoover was one out away from a Reds victory. Instead, his record sunk to 1-9 when he gave up a three-run home to former Reds outfielder Drew Stubbs, a stunning, shocking, debilitating walk-off home run.

It isn’t often the Reds offense produces nine runs and all did was produce another one-run defeat.

The Rockies took an early 3-0 lead on a struggling Mat Latos, but the Reds came back on a two-run home run by Jay Bruce and a two-run single by Zack Cozart to give the Reds a 4-3 lead after five.

Latos needed 97 pitches to cover five innings and left giving up three runs and eight hits. But the Reds kept tacking on runs and Latos stood to be the winner if they held on.

They didn’t.

Devin Mesoraco scored on a wild pitch, Kristopher Negron homered and Ryan Ludwick hit a sacrifice fly and the Reds had a 7-3 lead after six.

The Rockies scored two runs in the seventh off Sam LeCure and Jumbo Diaz to creep within 7-5, but the Reds scored two in the ninth on run-scoring singles by Jay Bruce and Brayan Pena to appear to put the game out of reach.

But Chapman’s walk on the wild side put the Rockies back in business and Stubbs took care of business against Hoover.

Game two was a makeup game from Saturday’s postponement after a water main break outside the stadium left Coors Field without water. Somebody on the Reds should have broken the water pipe again before Sunday’s game.

The Reds threw away an outstanding pitching effort by Dylan Axelrod, summoned from Class AAA Louisville as a stand-in for disabled starter Homer Bailey.

And he was brilliant through six innings. He gave up only two runs, a pair of solo homers, and seven hits, turning a 5-2 lead over to the bullpen.

Carlos Contrera pitched the seventh and the Rockies scored three to tie it, 5-5. He got the first out, but a walk to pinch-hitter Charlie Blackmon began a slide to oblivion.

The Rockies cut it to 5-3 on a single by Corey Dickerson and there were runners on second and first with one out. Nolan Arenado grounded to third baseman Ramon Santiago, a possible inning-ending double play. Possible? Impossible.

Santiago stepped on third for the second out, but his throw to first was high, wide and ugly. The ball bounced down the right-field line and two runs scored to tie it, 5-5.

Then came the eighth and before somebody could find a tourniquet, the Reds allowed five runs as the Rockies scored against Contreras and Manny Parra.

Once again Contreras got the first out. But he gave up singles to Brandon Barnes and Charlie Culberson. Charlie Blackmon popped up for the second out.

Contreras was one out away from preserving the tie. The third out didn’t come until the Rockies scored five runs and there was some bad luck involved.

Parra replaced Contreras and Jason Rutledge pounded one off home plate that bounced so high there was no play for third baseman Santiago when the ball come down. That loaded the bases.

Dickerson hit a foul ball that missed by five feet of being a grand slam. Then he broke his bat on a ball that landed safely in center field and two runs scored for a 7-5 Rockies lead.

Michael Cuddyer, fresh off the disabled list, already had a home run, triple and single in the game, needing only a double for the cycle. And he got it — a two-run double to left field to make it 9-5. Just to make sure they scored 10 runs in both games, Nolan Arendado walked and pinch-hitter Stubbs singled for his fourth RBI on the day to make it 10-5.

The Reds came to Denver hoping to make progress against the Rockies, a team with the worst record in baseball. Instead, the Reds lost three of four and are limping badly as they head for St. Louis and three games against the Cardinals starting tonight.

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