Sunday, June 23, 2002
Athletics 10, Reds 3
A's rip Reds; losing streak hits 6 games
By John Fay, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Sean Casey's fourth-inning home run was followed by the usual fireworks. About five minutes later, black smoke bellowed from the stadium roof. I thought the stadium was burning down, Casey said.
Sean Casey is congratulated by teammates after hitting a 3-run home run in the fourth inning.
(Greg Ruffing photo)
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It seems fireworks hit a garbage bag and started a fire, which was quickly put out. But who knows how long the fire hazard existed? Only home runs and wins set the fireworks off, and the Reds aren't producing much of either lately.
Saturday night's 10-3 loss to the Oakland A's at Cinergy Field was the Reds' season-worst sixth straight. They haven't scored more than three runs in any of the six defeats.
The Reds are averaging 1.7 runs per game during the losing streak and 3.0 runs over their last 20 games.
Left-hander Bruce Chen's Reds debut showed that he'll need a few more sessions with pitching coach Don Gullett. Chen lasted only four innings and put the Reds in a 4-0 hole. Then, after the Reds cut the A's lead to one, Chen promptly gave up three more runs.
Chen (2-4) could have pitched very well and still lost. A's lefty Barry Zito (10-2) allowed three straight hits to start the fourth inning and none the rest of the night.
We faced a guy who is awfully tough, Reds manager Bob Boone said. He's one of the best in their league. He has great command. He throws a myriad of pitches.
The loss puts the Reds 2 1/2 games behind first-place St. Louis in the National League Central Division. The Cardinals' game with the Chicago Cubs was cancelled due to St. Louis right-hander Darryl Kile's death.
The Reds haven't been 2 1/2 games back in the standings since April 22, but Cincinnati should be thankful it isn't in the American League West. Saturday's loss made the Reds 2-9 against that division this season.
The A's have won six straight games and are 13-1 in interleague play.
It doesn't get any easier today for the Reds. They face Oakland left-hander Mike Mulder, who has won five straight.
We're scuffling, Casey said. They're clicking on all cylinders. That's not a good equation for us.
The Reds found themselves down early. Chen struck out A's leadoff man Randy Velarde on three pitches, but walked Terrence Long and allowed a single to Miguel Tejada. Olmedo Saenz doubled them in to make it 2-0.
Reds catcher Jason LaRue hangs on to the ball and tags out Oakland runner Eric Chavez at home plate. Ken Griffey, Jr., made the throw from center field to end the fifth inning.
(Greg Ruffing photo)
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Saenz belted his third home run of the year in the third inning a two-out solo shot that made it 3-0.
The A's added another run in the fourth, and a 4-0 hole is as good as being beat against Zito.
Zito had won eight straight coming into the game and was getting better as the season wore on. He had given up a total of six baserunners in his last five starts.
Zito was cruising early Saturday. In fact, the Reds didn't have a hit through three innings.
But Ken Griffey Jr. broke through for the Reds in the fourth by slicing a single into left field. Juan Encarnacion followed with a knuckleball line drive that just got over second baseman Velarde's glove and into right field for a single.
Casey followed with his homer to right, which broke three skids for the Reds' first baseman. It was his first hit in 11 at-bats, first RBI since May 29 and first home run since May 7. The RBI drought 19 games was the longest of Casey's career.
That was nice, he said. It was a step in the right direction. But we have to win games.
The three-run homer got the Reds back in it briefly.
Chen walked Velarde to start the A's fifth. Long followed with a potential double-play grounder to Casey, whose throw to shortstop Barry Larkin went off Velarde's hand and into the outfield. The throwing error put runners at second and third with no outs.
Bruce Chen wipes his face after giving up a 2-run double to Oakland's Miguel Tejada in the fifth inning.
(Greg Ruffing photo)
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That was huge, Boone said. That was the game right there.
That's because the next hitter, Tejada, worked the count to 3-2, then lashed a ball to left for a two-run double that ended Chen's night.
It wasn't a good first start for Chen four innings, seven runs (five earned), six hits, two walks and five strikeouts. But he saw some good signs.
Honestly, I felt more comfortable, Chen said. I felt I threw some good pitches. My command was better.
Actually, we liked some of the things we saw, he said. The mechanical part, he did pretty well. We didn't like some of the pitch selections.
Jose Silva relieved Chen and gave up two runs in three innings. John Riedling pitched two innings, allowing one run.
Zito cruised after Casey's homer, retiring 12 of the next 13 batters he faced.
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Enquirer Page Two Top&Bottom Five
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