Sunday, April 08, 2001

Brewers 6, Reds 1

Harnisch miffed by fifth-inning hook

By Chris Haft
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Jason LaRue tags out Jose Hernandez.
(AP photos)
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        MILWAUKEE — Pete Harnisch's frustration, as it sometimes does, overflowed slightly but noticeably after the Reds' 6-1 loss Saturday to the Milwaukee Brewers.

        Harnisch didn't launch tirades or aim scathing criticism. But Cincinnati's Opening Day starter implied he would have preferred to stay in the game longer than the 4 1/3 innings he recorded.

        Harnisch's Milwaukee counterpart, Jamey Wright, fared much better. Wright no-hit Cincinnati for 6 1/3 innings before Aaron Boone's soft but clean single to center field ended his bid. Jason LaRue homered to open the eighth inning, ending Wright's shutout and his afternoon.

Jamey Wright
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        “He had two breaking balls working for him,” Boone said of Wright. “And what he considers probably his bread and butter, a good, hard sinker.”

        Right now, Harnisch's bread is crumbling and his butter is hard.

        After lamenting his pitching mechanics, which have been faulty for a few weeks — “I tried to fix it a bunch of ways and I haven't been able to fix it yet,” he said — Harnisch proceeded to point out that the score was still relatively close when he was removed in the fifth inning with one out and Brewers on first and second base.

        “I mean, it's a 3-0 game. It's not like a ... 8-0 game,” Harnisch said. “It gets treated like it's ... 8-0 in the fifth inning around here. It's kind of tough.”

        Asked if he wanted to stay in, Harnisch said cryptically, “Take it for what it's worth.”

        Harnisch (0-1) didn't absolve himself from blame for the Reds' second consecutive defeat. The right-hander performed unsteadily before a crowd of 40,651 at Miller Park. “I'm struggling a lot,” he said.

        Harnisch threw 24 pitches in the first inning, about twice the optimal number. He struck out the side in the second inning, then began the third inning by walking Wright, a lifetime .061 hitter. That preceded Ron Belliard's double, Tyler Houston's RBI single and Jeromy Burnitz's two-run double.

        After that, Harnisch needed just three pitches to escape the fourth inning. But upon his departure, he had thrown 87 pitches, nearly a full workload for a starter at this early stage.

        “It's close. I don't think I'm getting my brains beat in every time I go out there,” Harnisch said. “It just seems like one 15-, 20-pitch stretch costs me all the runs. Same thing happened in the Atlanta game (on Opening Day).”

        Manager Bob Boone, who did not hear Harnisch's comments, was mostly positive about him.

        “He struggled with his command a little bit, but I thought he battled pretty well and got out of a couple of jams,” Bob Boone said. “A couple of walks hurt us. But he kept us in it and gave us a chance.”

        Actually, Wright nullified any chance the Reds might have had. Cincinnati's hitters entered the game with a .375 lifetime average against the right-hander, who mocked that statistic while striking out six without a walk.

        The Reds (2-4) twice moved runners to second base in the first three innings, but both were with two outs.

        Any real shot the Reds had disappeared in the sixth inning, when they brought the potential tying run to the plate.

        Donnie Sadler grounded to shortstop leading off the sixth and went to second base on Jose Hernandez's wild throw. Though Sadler probably would have beaten an accurate throw, the play was scored an error, owing to Wright's no-hitter and the axiom that the first hit must always be clean.

        Barry Larkin's one-out walk gave the Reds runners on the corners. But Dmitri Young whiffed on a high 3-2 pitch and Larkin was thrown out trying to steal second base for an inning-ending double play.

        “You give up a couple of runs in a game when a guy's throwing a no-hitter into the seventh inning, it compounds everything,” Harnisch said. “It's just a bad overall game.”


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