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Nolan Arenado homers, but Rockies lose 5-4 late to the Reds after a tough ninth inning

The Colorado Rockies led most of the way, but a bad ninth inning did them in on Thursday afternoon in the desert.

Nolan Arenado went yard for the Rockies on Thursday.
Nolan Arenado went yard for the Rockies on Thursday.
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Reds, down one entering the top of the ninth, put up three runs to take the lead and eventually hang on to win Thursday afternoon's Cactus League game over the Colorado Rockies by a score of 5-4. A bottom of the ninth inning comeback by the Rox off Colorado native and Reds pitcher Stephen Johnson unfortunately fell just one run short.

The Rockies opened up the scoring in the bottom of the second inning, when Charlie Blackmon singled home Ben Paulsen to make it a 1-0 game, but the Rox left a few runners on in that frame and couldn't take advantage and score more off Reds starter Brandon Finnegan. In the bottom of the third, Nolan Arenado connected with his first home run of the spring, a solo shot to left off Finnegan, to put the Rox up 2-0.

Jorge De La Rosa was masterful for Colorado today, allowing no runs on no hits and no walks over three innings, whiffing four hitters in the process. He worked quickly and efficiently, too, tossing 41 pitches (27 strikes) over those three frames.

The Reds got their first run of the game in the top of the fourth inning, thanks to an RBI single from Scott Schebler that came off new Rockies pitcher Tyler Chatwood. To his credit, Chatwood settled into good work after that, and allowed just that run on two hits and a walk in two frames, striking out one on 37 pitches (25 strikes).

The Rockies got that run back in the bottom of the fifth, when DJ LeMahieu singled home Kyle Parker and made the game 3-1. LeMahieu came out of the game after going 2-for-3 with that RBI, and is now hitting .375 this spring.

The Reds would pick up their second run on a sacrifice fly off Rockies reliever Yohan Flande in the top of the seventh, but the lefty—fighting for a long relief spot—also fought through around it, allowing nothing else in two innings of work with two strikeouts on 40 pitches (27 strikes).

A scoreless eighth inning from prospect Sam Moll led into Carlos Estevez's ninth-inning save opportunity with the Rockies ahead 3-2. However, a three-run frame—on four hits—in the top of the ninth inning off Estevez gave the Reds a one-run lead despite trailing all day going into the final frame.

In the bottom of the ninth, down two, the first two Rockies to the plate walked off Reds reliever Stephen Johnson before Cristhian Adames' groundout moved them up to second and third with the winning run—Kyle Parker—at that plate. Parker walked, too, loading the bases for Rafael Ynoa with still just one out. Ynoa slapped a fly ball to deep left field that scored Ryan Casteel from third, and allowed Tapia and Parker to move up, giving the Rockies—and Tom Murphy—the chance to win the game with the winning run at second base.

Unfortunately, Murphy popped out on a high fly ball down the first base line that nearly was lost in the sun, but... not. The Reds hung on for a 5-4 win after mounting their furious ninth inning comeback, dropping the Rockies to 5-4 overall early on in Cactus League play.

The Rockies take on the Cleveland Indians at Salt River Fields on Friday at 1:10 pm MT, after which they will travel to Maryvale on Saturday afternoon for a game against the Brewers.