Sunday, May 13, 2001

Reds 5, Astros 4

Ochoa, Fernandez deliver a split

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Alex Ochoa, right, is hugged by Pokey Reese after driving in the winning run.
(AP photos)
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        They'll take the split. The Reds probably should have swept the Houston Astros in a doubleheader Saturday night, but they also came dangerously close to getting swept.

        The Reds lost the first game 2-1 and came back to win the second game 5-4 after they blew a three-run lead in the top of the ninth. They won on Alex Ochoa's RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.

        “That shows the charac ter of the club,” Reds manager Bob Boone said. “Alex was really struggling. But he put a great swing on the last pitch.”

        A crowd of 32,175 — the biggest since Opening Day — showed up at Cinergy Field for the Reds' first home doubleheader in four years. They will tell you the Reds' starting pitching was good enough for a sweep.

        Starters Rob Bell and Osvaldo Fernandez combined to pitch 15 innings and allow three runs.

Osvaldo Fernandez held the Astros to one run and 3 hits in seven innings.
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        Still, after nearly blowing the second game, the Reds clubhouse was full of relieved players.

        The second game appeared to be in the bag. The Reds led 4-1 going to the ninth. But closer Danny Graves blew a save for the second straight outing. The Astros tied the game on Berkman's three-run, pinch-hit homer. Berkman came to the plate 1-for-27 as a pinch hitter.

        “That's brutal,” Graves said. “I made one bad pitch — a hanging curve to Berkman — but my teammates saved me. They kept me from breaking things. I was going to get a bat and go after the first thing I saw.”

        It wasn't necessary, thanks to the rally in the ninth.

Donnie Sadler beats the throw for an infield hit.
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        Ruben Rivera started it with a two-out single. Sean Casey walked. Ochoa, who homered earlier in the game, fell behind Octavio Dotel 1-2.

        “He flings the ball in there,” Ochoa said. “I was hoping he'd leave one (on the outside of the plate) again. If he came inside, I was done.”

        Dotel left one over the plate, and Ochoa smacked it into right for a clean hit.

        The win in the second game snapped a three-game losing streak for the Reds.

        “It was a big win for us, especially in a doubleheader,” Graves said. “You want to at least split.”

        Fernandez followed his worst outing of the year with his best.

        “He was spectacular,” Boone said.

Ochoa rounds third after his HR.
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        Fernandez didn't allow a hit until Daryle Ward singled with two out in the fourth.

        Ochoa gave him a 2-0 lead with a two-run homer in the second. It was the first home run by a Red since Casey hit one in Arizona on Monday. The Reds entered Saturday with 27 homers — fewest in the National League.

        The Reds added a run in the fifth.

        Fernandez went seven innings, allowing three hits and one run. The gem came the start after Fernandez was lit up for seven runs on eight hits.

        After Mark Wohlers pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, Graves gave up the lead.

        But the Reds got out of it with a split.

        “It been a rough last couple of days,” Ochoa said. “It was a good thing to get the last one.”


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