Thursday, September 21, 2000

Giants 4, Reds 2

That's all, folks - Reds officially eliminated

By Chris Haft
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Michael Tucker is called out trying to steal.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        SAN FRANCISCO — The evening that eliminated the Reds from contention in the National League Central was like many of the others — frustrating and painful.

        Cincinnati's 4-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants prompted Steve Parris to mutter about home plate umpire Dan Iassogna's strike zone and left Pokey Reese nursing a bruised left hand.

        It could have been worse. The Reds (79-74) appeared bound for their first shutout defeat of the season as Giants starter Russ Ortiz no-hit them for six innings.

        But Brian Hunter's bunt single and Michael Tucker's two-run double in the seventh inning enabled the Reds to escape first the no-hitter, then the shutout.

        Having avoided those twin indignities, the Reds weren't in a mood to lament St. Louis' division-clinching 11-6 victory over Houston. After all, the Cardinals' dominance of the Central was settled weeks ago.

        “No ill feelings,” said Reds first baseman-outfielder Dmitri Young. “The Cardinals had everything go right for them.”

        That also could be said of the Giants, who clinched a tie for the NL West title by improving their record to a major league-best 91-60.

        “I'm proud of these guys,” Giants manager Dusty Baker said. “They're playing. They're really playing. Now we need to keep playing. We've got a greater mission. We're not going to stop until we get there.”

        Though Parris (12-15) recently has been as unstoppable as the Giants, his seven-game winning streak ended as he yielded all of San Francisco's runs in five innings. Parris had been the first Reds pitcher to win that many starts in a row since Tom Browning captured eight consecutive outings in 1989.

        Though the Giants amassed just five hits, one more than Cincinnati, they maximized their offense. Most Valuable Player candidate Jeff Kent tripled leading off the second inning and scored the game's first run on J.T. Snow's groundout. One inning later, Snow's two-out double scored Marvin Benard and Barry Bonds.

        Bonds added the crowning blow in the fifth, driving Parris' 0-1 pitch into McCovey Cove, the portion of San Francisco Bay situated beyond the right-field barrier. It was the Giants' sixth “splash landing” of the season — all by Bonds — as well as his 493rd career homer, tying him with Lou Gehrig for 17th on the all-time list. Bonds celebrated by immediately giving his bat to former tennis star John McEnroe, seated in the front row near the Giants' dugout.

        Iassogna's work behind the plate bothered Parris more than San Francisco's hitting.

        “I'm going to be careful with what I say, but our guys don't carry 50-inch bats around,” said Parris, indicating that Iassogna was calling outside strikes for Ortiz and not for him. “Our guys had no chance tonight. I like Dan. I like him behind the plate (but) I think he had a bad night tonight. I think it went one way. I don't know why. Ortiz did what he had to do. (Iassogna) kept calling those outside pitches and (Ortiz) kept throwing it there.”

        Through six innings, Ortiz (13-11) struck out seven and allowed no balls to clear the infield until Hunter opened the seventh by easily beating out his first-pitch bunt up the third-base line. This enraged the usual sellout crowd of 40,930 at Pacific Bell Park, which wanted to see a heartier attempt at ending the no-hitter.

        But, as Reds manager Jack McKeon said, “That's the kind of hitter (Hunter) is. I wish he'd bunt more often.”

        Said Hunter, “We couldn't get anything going. Since I'm the leadoff hitter, I figured it was OK to bunt. There's no unwritten rule against it.”

        Reese, the next batter, was plunked by a 3-2 pitch, knocking him out of the game. Though X-rays revealed no fracture, the Reds face the possibility of resuming play Friday without their entire starting infield — continuing the run of injuries that limited their projected starting lineup to 14 games together.

        None of the Reds thought Ortiz, who beaned Aaron Boone here June 13, was throwing at Reese in retaliation for Hunter's hit.

        “I wouldn't think he was. At least I hope not,” Reese said.

        “If he was, he was pretty stupid,” McKeon said. “You're not going to put two guys on base with a 4-0 lead. He had been getting them out all night.”

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