Thursday, April 29, 1999


Four-run 9th caps improbable comeback

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        PHILADELPHIA — Pokey Reese wasn't around for the end of Wednesday night's game against the Philadelphia Phillies. But he made an indelible impact when he was present.

        Reese's bases-loaded, two-run single shattered a ninth-inning tie and ignited a four-run uprising that helped the Reds outlast the Phillies 12-8 before a thoroughly confused Veterans Stadium crowd of 12,354. Earlier, Reese's RBI groundout was a crucial factor in a three-run eighth inning that pulled Cincinnati even.

        The Phillies dominated most of the three-hour, 35-minute saga. They belted four home runs off Reds starter Brett Tomko, including three in a row in the first inning, while building leads of 4-0 and 7-1.

        But the Reds (8-11) ignored Tomko's troubles and their major league-low .243 team batting average before the game. They equaled a season high with 13 hits, collecting at least one in every inning. The six-run deficit Cincinnati overcame was the largest since Jack McKeon became manager July 25, 1997.

        “That's us,” said Reese, who left the game before the bottom of the ninth with tightness in his left groin that arose one inning earlier as he ran to first base. “We never give up. We go until the last out.”

        Said manager Jack McKeon: “We've proven that we can come back against anybody in this league.”

        Cincinnati's four-run outburst in the ninth began against Phillies relief ace Jeff Brantley (1-1), who walked Greg Vaughn on four pitches. Reds reliever Scott Williamson struck out trying to bunt.

        But Brantley, the former Red, apparently aggravated a shoulder injury and left the game. He was replaced by right-hander Ken

        Ryan, who might have been worse than Tomko.

        Ryan walked Barry Larkin and retired Eddie Taubensee on a line drive to center. One out away from ending the inning, he also walked Mark Lewis after Vaughn and Larkin executed a double steal.

        Reese then rolled an 0-1 pitch through the right side of the infield, scoring Vaughn and Larkin.

        “I was thinking he (Ryan) was going to try to get ahead of me,” said Reese. “He threw me a fastball, and I fouled it straight back. Then he threw me a pretty good curveball, and I just stayed with it.”

        The Reds quickly added a pair of insurance runs. Jeffrey Hammonds singled to right field to send home Lewis and Reese, who had stolen second base.

        Williamson, fresh off his first major-league save Sunday, recorded his initial win by blanking Philadelphia on two hits in the final three innings.

        “It means a lot to me, because the team came back,” the rookie right-hander said. “You can't think about yourself.”

        Earlier, it was easy to wonder when, or if, the talented Tomko ever will gain consistency as his shaky season downright collapsed.

        Tomko, who also yielded a three-run homer to Doug Glanville in his fourth and final inning, gave up eight hits and seven runs, another personal worst. His earned run average ballooned from 6.35 to 7.76.

        “I don't know what more I can say than it's been a horrible month,” Tomko said.

        But the Reds had more on their minds than Tomko's troubles.

        Larkin, celebrating his 35th birthday, opened the eighth inning against reliever Wayne Gomes with his second hit, a bad-hop grounder past first base. After Taubensee walked, Lewis scored Larkin by doubling to left-center field. Reese's groundout brought home Taubensee and narrowed Philadelphia's edge to 8-7.

        With left-handed Hal Morris due to bat, the Phillies replaced Gomes with lefty Jim Poole, who instead faced right-handed pinch hitter Hammonds. Poole uncorked a wild pitch that moved Lewis to third base, but he also struck out Hammonds on a full-count curveball.

        Then Mike Cameron hit a sharp grounder to the right of shortstop Desi Relaford, whose throw from the hole flew wide of first base. Cameron was given an infield hit, since he probably would have beaten the play. More important, Lewis came across with the tying run.


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