CINCINNATI — The CarGo and Tulo show left them gasping in awe Wednesday night at Great American Ball Park.
The Rockies' dynamic duo of Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki combined to hit five home runs, fueling a 12-4 victory over the shell-shocked Reds. CarGo's three-run rocket in the fourth inning off rookie Pedro Villarreal — upon liftoff it looked like it might splash down in the mighty Ohio River — traveled an estimated 476 feet, the 11th-longest homer in the history of Great American Ball Park. If that measurement holds up, it would be the longest homer in the majors this season.
"It was loud and it went really far," deadpanned manager Walt Weiss.
Said Gonzalez: "To hit it that far was a good feeling. ... As soon as I hit it I knew it was out. It's tough as a human not to watch a ball when it goes that far. It doesn't happen every night, and it doesn't happen very often."
All told, Colorado launched six out of the park, the sixth time in franchise history the Rockies have hit six homers in a game. The club record is seven, accomplished April 5, 1997, at Montreal in a 15-3 victory over the Expos.
A tally of the damage done Wednesday night:
• Gonzalez hit three homers for the second time in his career: a solo shot in the first, his three-run, tape-measure shot in the fourth and a two-run homer in the eighth. He tied his career high with six RBIs.
• Tulowitzki had five hits for the third time in his career: three singles and two homers — a two-run screamer to left in the third and a solo liner to left in the eighth.
• Not wanting to be left out, Todd Helton drove in Tulo with an opposite-field homer to left-center in the seventh. It was Helton's sixth homer and his third in the last six games.
Colorado banged out a season-high 20 hits, including a career-high four by rookie third baseman Nolan Arenado.
Perhaps lost in the glare of the offensive pyrotechnics was the performance of starting pitcher Jon Garland. In a slump, and with speculation running hot that his spot in the rotation is in jeopardy, Garland pitched six innings. His stats didn't look great, thanks to a four-run first inning that included a three-run homer by Xavier Paul. But Garland settled down, throwing five scoreless innings after that and allowing only one hit.
"Great job by Jon, after giving up four in the first and then throwing up those zeros," Weiss said. "That was really impressive, to settle in like that."
The Rockies caught a big break before the first pitch was thrown. Scheduled Reds starter Johnny Cueto was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a sore muscle in his back. He was replaced by Villarreal, called up from Triple-A Louisville, who had all of one inning of major-league experience. The Rockies greeted him rudely, knocking him around for six runs and 10 hits in only 3 innings.
"When you know you are going to face a great pitcher like Cueto, you have to come to the park prepared," said Gonzalez, who arrived at the park early Wednesday to work on his swing. "Then the first thing you know you are going to face a guy from Triple-A that you've never faced before. It's a weird feeling. Sometimes you would rather face a guy you've seen before, but today we saw a lot of good pitches around the strike zone and it was a good day offensively for the Rockies."
Winners of four of their last five, the Rockies return home Thursday to host the San Diego Padres and begin a 10-game homestand over 11 days.
"Hopefully, we have some momentum, and it carries over," Helton said. "To beat these guys two out of three is big. That's a good team over there. So, we did a good job tonight."
SAN DIEGO AT COLORADO
Padres' Andrew Cashner (4-3, 3.65 ERA) vs. Rockies' Jhoulys Chacin (3-3, 4.26), 6:40 p.m. Thursday, ROOT, 850 AM
One bad inning, usually featuring pitches left up in the zone, is keeping right-hander Jhoulys Chacin from pitching like the No. 1 starter he was pegged to be by the Rockies. Case in point: his last start against the Dodgers, when he gave up three runs in the third inning en route to a five-run, nine-hit, two-walk performance. It's why he hasn't notched a victory since April 19. The good news is that he has a chance to get back on track against the Padres. Two of Chacin's three wins this season have come against the Padres, and he's allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last five starts against them. For his career, Chacin is 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA against San Diego.
Upcoming Pitching Matchups
Friday: Padres' Edinson Volquez (4-5, 5.35 ERA) at Rockies' Jorge De La Rosa (7-3, 3.10), 6:40 p.m., ROOT
Saturday: Padres' Eric Stults (4-5, 3.74) at Rockies' TBA, 5:15 p.m., KDVR-31
Sunday: Padres' Clayton Richard (1-5, 8.38) at Rockies' Juan Nicasio (4-2, 4.76), 2:10 p.m., ROOT
Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post