Saturday, June 17, 2000

Padres 8, Reds 5

Could be last tango for Parris as Reds lose ninth of 10

By Chris Haft
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Aaron Boone and Barry Larkin can't run down Ryan Klesko's bloop double in the eighth.
(AP photos)
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        SAN DIEGO — Steve Parris may have pitched himself out of the starting rotation Friday night.

        The Reds finally sustained decent offense for Parris, who had received a mere 21 runs in his previous 13 games while he was on the mound. They began the series opener against the San Diego Padres by scoring in each of the first three innings, chasing starter Brian Meadows after only 2 1/3 innings. Pokey Reese, Sean Casey and Chris Stynes homered, matching Cincinnati's second-highest longball production this year.

        But Parris (2-10) lasted only three innings and allowed seven runs, including five in the first inning, as San Diego perpetuated the Reds' woes with an 8-5 victory.

        Parris became the major leagues' first 10-game loser while dropping his sixth consecutive decision.

Ex-Reds Bret Boone homers in the first.
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        Cincinnati (32-33) absorbed its ninth defeat in 10 games to fall below .500 for the first time since May 4. The Reds, who fell 5 1/2 games behind NL Central-leading St. Louis, are closer to third place than first.

        Afterward, Reds manager Jack McKeon all but officially removed Parris from the rotation.

        “We're going to have to re-evaluate that situation — find somebody else to go in that slot,” McKeon said. “You can't say he hasn't gotten a chance.”

        With Opening Day starter Pete Harnisch steadily regaining his health and his replacement, Osvaldo Fernandez, pitching effectively, the Reds soon would have had to alter their starting five.

Pokey Reese completes a double play.
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        Monday's scheduled off-day will allow the Reds to skip Parris' turn once without making any changes. Whether Harnisch will be ready to pitch by the time Cincinnati again needs a fifth starter is questionable at best, and unlikely at worst.

        But McKeon and pitching coach Don Gullett will concern themselves with finding a temporary starter later. With a 5.77 ERA, Parris appears doomed. He seemed to sense this, too.

        “You don't need me for any quotes tonight,” Parris said, refusing extended interrogation from reporters. “That's an easy one to write.”

        A Riverfest-style postgame fireworks show coordinated to rock music helped lure 60,767 to Qualcomm Stadium, the largest in the majors this season.

        Now a lot more people know how bad the Reds have looked recently.

        Parris allowed six hits and issued two walks during his second-shortest outing of the year while throwing 34 strikes in 63 pitches.

        Gullett lamented Parris' inability to get ahead of the hitters on the count, pointing out that Parris threw first-pitch strikes to only eight of the 18 Padres he faced. Carlos Hernandez, whose third-inning, two-run homer sealed Parris' fate, connected on a 2-0 delivery.

        “You can't do that on any level, or you're going to get beat up,” Gullett said.

        Parris hasn't been alone. Reds starters are 0-8 with a 7.43 ERA in the team's last 11 games. Lately, McKeon has grown resigned to watching the Reds trail early. But this occasion particularly galled him.

        “When you're down five runs (actually, four), you work all nine innings to catch up,” McKeon said.

        Reese delivered Cincinnati's first leadoff homer of the season on Meadows' second pitch of the night. It was Reese's second career leadoff homer, following a shot off Andy Benes, then of Arizona, last June 29.

        The Reds, who went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, proceeded to waste Ken Griffey Jr.'s one-out double to left field. By contrast, the Padres wasted nothing in their half of the first.

        The first four batters singled off Parris, producing two runs. The third hit in this sequence, Tony Gwynn's, was a high line drive that Reese nearly speared with a leap before it went off his glove. Phil Nevin then singled on a 1-2 pitch to score former Red Eric Owens and Al Martin.

        Bret Boone, who homered twice when these teams last met May 11, then clubbed an 0-1 pitch for a three-run homer.

        Casey's homer, Aaron Boone's double and Eddie Taubensee's RBI single narrowed the difference to 5-3 in the second. Cincinnati's deficit shrank to 5-4 one inning later when Michael Tucker walked with one out, moved to third base on Casey's single and scored as Boone, recovering nicely from his Tuesday night beaning, singled to left-center field.

        Carlos Hernandez's two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the third extended San Diego's lead to 7-4. Both runs were unearned, because Reese had committed a fielding error on Ryan Klesko's grounder.

        Stynes' second career pinch-hit homer led off the sixth inning against Padres reliever Matt Whiteside.

        San Diego added a run in the eighth off Scott Sullivan, who has been scored upon in six of his last nine appearances.

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