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09/09/09 12:28 AM ET
Injury cuts short Maloney's best start
Lefty leaves after fifth because of blister on middle finger
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
DENVER -- Matt Maloney's best outing of his brief big league career wasn't undone by a bad pitch, a bad inning or an ill-timed home run. It was a middle-finger blister that ended the left-hander's night after five innings during the Reds' 3-1 loss to the Rockies on Tuesday. Maloney had retired his last 10 of his last 11 batters, including a stretch of nine in a row, and he had thrown only 66 pitches. "He was dealing," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I was shocked when [pitching coach] Dickie Pole said we had to take Maloney out. I saw the big bloody blister on his middle finger. We certainly didn't want to. I thought the young man was throwing great. He must have gutted it out a couple of innings before he said anything." While the blister kept Maloney from pitching, Rockies starter Jason Marquis (15-10) pretty much kept the Reds' lineup from putting anything together. Marquis pitched 7 1/3 innings and struck out a season-high seven batters and had a shutout going through the first seven. The Reds, who had only four hits on Tuesday, were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. That included five innings when there was a runner on second base with less than two outs who didn't score. Pinch-hitter Drew Sutton led off the Reds' eighth with a single, and Drew Stubbs followed with a lined infield hit off of Marquis' glove. With one out against reliever Randy Flores, Joey Votto grounded out to first base as Sutton scored. Maloney (0-4) allowed one first-inning run and four hits overall with no walks and two strikeouts. In the Colorado first, Eric Young Jr. hit a leadoff double to the left-field wall and later scored from third base on a Todd Helton sacrifice fly. But Maloney gave up no more runs from there. In the second after a pair of one-out singles, Maloney induced a Clint Barmes double play to shortstop Paul Janish. The only other hit the pitcher gave up was a Barmes bloop single with two outs in the fifth. "Boy, he threw the ball very well," Baker said. "He was matching Marquis other than that first inning." After the game, Maloney showed his fingertip, which was black and blue all around. He said he started to feel it during the second inning. "It's the whole fingertip pretty much," Maloney said. "It kept getting worse on me. That fifth inning, it really started to get bad, and we decided the best thing was to come out before it ripped off." Coming into the game, Maloney had a 6.46 ERA and was prone to giving up home runs. But he did a good job of keeping the ball down against Colorado. "That's probably the most frustrating part. It was probably the best I've thrown since I've been up here," Maloney said. "It's really frustrating to have command of my sinker and cutter today, getting ground balls like I did, and to have to come out for something like that is really disappointing." When Maloney exited before the bottom of the sixth, lefty Pedro Viola made his Major League debut and gave up a leadoff homer over the left-field fence to Young. It happened to be Young's first career homer in the big leagues. Viola gave up one more hit and one walk and completed two innings. "The first batter of his career -- I'm sure he'll remember that one," Baker said. "The young man threw the ball well after that first leadoff home run."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.