DENVER (AP) — For one night, Charlie Culberson looked a little bit like the shortstop he’s trying to replace.
He had the power of Troy Tulowitzki and the nifty moves, too — jumping out of the way of a shattered bat fragment to cleanly field a grounder.
“Not Tulowitzki,” cautioned Culberson, “but if they put (me) in the lineup, I’ll be ready to play.”
Culberson hit his first homer in more than a month — a three-run shot in the fifth — and Jorge De La Rosa pitched seven effective innings to lift the Colorado Rockies over the Cincinnati Reds 7-3 on Thursday.
With Tulowitzki set for season-ending hip surgery Friday, Culberson and Josh Rutledge figure to receive plenty of playing time at shortstop. Culberson definitely made the most of his opportunity Thursday.
“Tulo is our guy,” Culberson said. “And shortstop is a big spot to fill. … I feel like both us can go out there and fill in.”
De La Rosa (12-8) allowed three runs and five hits as he improved to 8-2 at Coors Field this season.
Not bad considering he tweaked his Achilles running to first in the second inning. But he came back out to pitch and didn’t miss a beat.
“It was bothering me a little bit,” De La Rosa said. “But I was able to keep pitching in pain. We’ll take care of that before my next start.”
Reds All-Star Alfredo Simon (12-8) is winless in six starts since the break. He allowed seven runs — five earned — and a season-high 10 hits in five innings.
“He made some mistakes and they hit it hard,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “It’s just a matter of executing better pitches and having a better mix of pitches.”
Culberson broke the game open by lacing a 95 mph fastball from Simon into the left-field bleachers. It was his first homer since June 29.
The shortstop also flashed his fielding prowess by sidestepping a piece of Todd Frazier’s broken bat to field the ball and throw out Frazier by a few steps.
“The bat went further than the ball,” Culberson said. “Those things happen. Just got to roll with it.”
Charlie Blackmon broke a 2-all tie in the fourth when he drove in a run on a groundout. Drew Stubbs followed with an RBI single against his former team. Both runs were unearned after Simon threw the ball away trying to turn a double play.
“It’s good to see some things we did offensively, that we’ve been struggling to do,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
CARGO DONE FOR SEASON
Shortly after the game, the Rockies announced that outfielder Carlos Gonzalez will have season-ending surgery on his left knee Monday. It’s been an injury-riddled year for Gonzalez, who is on the disabled list with not only an aching left knee but a sprained right ankle.
He was out earlier this season after doctors found and removed a small tumor in his left index finger.
BACK ON TRACK
Ryan Ludwick was hitless in his last 13 at-bats before breaking out with an RBI double in the second. He added a solo homer in the sixth off De La Rosa that landed near the top of the stands in left.
“Today, I just happened to think along with him,” Ludwick said. “Lucky guess.”
Reds: RHP Homer Bailey is headed to the disabled list with a strained elbow. Price said he will announce a starter to take Bailey’s spot in the rotation Friday. There’s no timetable for Bailey’s return.
Rockies: OF Michael Cuddyer (broken left shoulder) could be back in the lineup Saturday. The reigning NL batting champ has been on the DL since early June.
Reds: RHP Johnny Cueto (14-6, 2.05 ERA) can take over the NL lead in wins by beating the Rockies on Friday. Cueto is 6-0 in seven starts since losing at San Diego on July 2.
Rockies: LHP Franklin Morales (5-6, 4.97) will make his first career start against the Reds. He’s faced them five times as a reliever, going 2-0 with two saves.
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