Hamilton adds to astonishing start
Rookie outfielder does it all as Reds beat Rockies
By Jeff Wallner / Special to MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- It seems a new chapter is being written daily in the remarkable and improbable story of Reds outfielder Josh Hamilton.
Fewer than 24 hours after falling a home run shy of hitting for the cycle, the 26-year-old rookie hit two.
Hamilton's first career multihomer game highlighted the Reds' 9-3 victory over the Rockies before 27,915 fans Sunday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.
Hamilton, the National League Rookie of the Month for April, batted .429 this week with nine hits, including two home runs, a triple, a double, two walks and a stolen base.
After being away from the game for nearly four years while battling alcohol and drug addiction, Hamilton earned a spot on the Reds' 25-man roster out of Spring Training despite playing just 23 games above Class A.
"Just to be here is a blessing," said Hamilton. "I don't need [drugs] anymore. I have God in my life. A day like today is what makes you love the game. The game's not easy. It's just fun."
Hamilton has eight home runs in 85 at-bats. He leads all NL rookies in batting average (.306), runs (19) and home runs.
"He can be as good as anyone in this game," said Reds manager Jerry Narron. "He enjoys having his life back and being on the field. Having not played for four years, I've been most impressed with his plate discipline."
Reds starter Bronson Arroyo, who admittedly did not have his best stuff Sunday, retired the first nine batters he faced before walking Willy Taveras to begin the fourth inning.
Arroyo (2-2) allowed three earned runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked three and fanned seven in earning his second straight victory.
Taveras, trying to advance from first to third base on Troy Tulowitzki's single in the fourth, was thrown out at third on a bullet-like throw from Hamilton.
"That's our MVP over there," said Arroyo, pointing at Hamilton's locker. "He's got a better arm than any of us."
Hamilton, who made a diving catch in Saturday's game, contributed a sliding over-the-shoulder grab in center field in the eighth inning on Sunday.
"I'd rather have good games on defense than offense," said Hamilton. "There were four or five games where I was getting frustrated. I just had to calm myself down. I have to just relax and trust myself and have a good time."
Scott Hatteberg's ground-rule double off Rockies starter Josh Fogg scored Arroyo from second with the Reds' first run. Fogg walked Edwin Encarnacion with the bases loaded to make the score 2-0.
Alex Gonzalez hit his fifth home run of the season in the third to put the Reds ahead, 3-0. Hamilton's two-run opposite-field home run off Fogg made the score 5-0 in the fifth.
Fogg (1-3) allowed five earned runs in five innings to take the loss for Colorado.
It appeared five runs would be enough for Arroyo, but things unraveled just a bit for the right-hander in the sixth.
The Rockies loaded the bases with one out. On the ninth pitch of his at-bat, Todd Helton blooped a single into left field between Adam Dunn and a diving Gonzalez, scoring two runs to make the score 5-2.
"Helton's at-bat really killed me," Arroyo said. "He kept fouling off pitches. The wind pulled that ball into a perfect spot."
Arroyo threw 48 pitches in the sixth. After he walked Brad Hawpe to load the bases with two outs, Narron went to the bullpen.
Right-hander Kirk Saarloos walked pinch-hitter John Mabry to force home Colorado's third run, then he retired Jamey Carroll on a fielder's choice to end the inning.
The Cincinnati bullpen, which has struggled mightily of late, allowed two hits and no earned runs in 3 1/3 innings.
"How 'bout that?" said Narron. "The big thing was Saarloos didn't give in with the bases loaded, and [he] got out of the inning. They're all capable of it."
Ryan Freel, making his first start at second base since July 5, 2006, led off the bottom of the sixth with his first home run of the season on a 3-1 pitch from Rockies reliever Tom Martin, making the score 6-3.
It was Freel's first home run since Sept. 8, 2006. He went 2-for-3 on Sunday with a triple, homer, three walks and three runs scored.
Hamilton hit a solo shot off Alberto Arias with one out in the seventh, giving the Reds a 7-3 lead.
After Jeff Conine added an RBI sacrifice fly in the eighth, Dunn tripled home Encarnacion to close out the scoring.
Freel tripled and scored earlier in the inning, giving the Reds two triples in an inning for the first time since June 29, 2000.
David Weathers pitched 1 1/3 perfect innings to earn his sixth save. It was the first save for the Reds since Weathers closed out a 1-0 victory April 15 at Chicago.
But the story of the day was Hamilton.
With a horde of reporters gathered around his locker, Hamilton traded light-hearted jabs with Dunn from opposite sides of the clubhouse.
"It's Josh Hamilton's world; I'm just trying to live in it," said Dunn.
Jeff Wallner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.