Monday, August 12, 2002

Reds 9, Padres 7

Boone HR wins it in bottom of 12th

By John Fay,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        This wasn't how you'd draw it up. The Reds' 9-7, 12-inning victory over the San Diego Padres ended with a bang — Aaron Boone's two-run bolt of a home run — after crawling along for 41/2 hours, six hours if you count the rain delay.

Aaron Boone celebrates with teammates after his two-run 12th inning homer.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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        “It was almost a very frustrating day for us,” Boone said.

        “Almost” is the operative word. Because losing would have been so disappointing it made winning a little sweeter.

        “Sometimes, winning ugly works,” Boone said.

        Sunday's win was as ugly as it gets. Consider:

        • The Reds blew a 7-2 lead.

        • They put the winning run in scoring position in the ninth, 10th and 11th but couldn't get a big hit.

        • The Padres' leadoff hitter reached base in 10 of the 12 innings, including bases on balls in the seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th.

        • The Reds wasted Brian Moehler's best start as a Red.

        What it all meant was a nice, tidy victory turned into a nail-biter that ended in the Reds' seventh walk-off win of the year.

        “The bottom line is we won,” Moehler said. “This was a big game for us. A win is a win.”

Brian Moehler gave up two runs in six innings.
(AP photo)
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        Sunday's victory, which pushed the Reds record to 9-3 in extra-inning games, completed a three-game sweep of the Padres. It put the Reds alone in second place, a game ahead of the Houston Astros, who lost to Atlanta 13-3 Sunday. And it sets the Reds up very nicely for their toughest stretch of schedule this season.

        The Reds trailed first-place St. Louis by 1 1/2 games, pending the Cardinals' game Sunday night.

        The Reds are off today. The World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks come to town for a three-game series starting Tuesday. That starts a 22-game stretch in which all but three games are against the D'backs, the Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals.

        “We've got a big stretch ahead of us,” Boone said. “We'll enjoy our day off then come back and play the big boys.”

        Sunday's game was a sign the Reds are ready for the challenge. Moehler pitched well the day after Ryan Dempster pitched his best game as a Red.

        Moehler went six innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He didn't walk a batter and struck out three.

        The offense, meanwhile, continues to crank out runs. The Reds scored 29 runs in the series. In addition to Boone's homer, Barry Larkin hit a three-run shot and Austin Kearns went 2-for-3 with two walks and two RBI.

Umpires discuss the threatening weather on a radar monitor (right) that delayed the game for one hour and 38 minutes.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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        Kearns also made a great defensive play. He ran down a ball off the bat of Ramon Vazquez. Kearns banged into the wall as he made the catch, then spun and made a strong throw to Sean Casey to double up Brian Buchanan, the runner at first.

        The Reds added a pair of runs in the sixth to make it 7-2.

        About that time, Reds manager Bob Boone made three changes — he lifted Moehler for a pinch-hitter, and took out Larkin and Ken Griffey Jr.

        In hindsight, all three moves looked bad because the bullpen collapsed, forcing extra innings. That meant Griffey's spot came up two more times and Larkin's three.

        “I thought Moehler had enough,” Boone said. “I felt pretty comfortable with my bullpen.”

        The five-run lead was gone in three innings. Danny Graves gave up a two-run homer to Bubba Trammell in the ninth to tie it

Boone and Todd Walker high-five the grounds crew.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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        It was Graves' seventh blown save of the yearThe Reds had a chance to win it in the bottom of the ninth. Adam Dunn and Kearns walked with one out.

        With Sean Casey on deck, San Diego manager Bruce Bochy went to the mound and had a long discussion with pitcher Kevin Walker. Just after home plate umpire Dale Scott intervened, it began to rain. A 93-minute delay followed.

        When play resumed, closer Trevor Hoffman was on the mound. He got Casey to pop out and struck out Juan Castro, who had replaced Larkin.

        After the ninth, the bullpen held tight. John Riedling struggled with his control — walking four — but he pitched two scoreless innings. Jose Rijo pitched the 12th to get the win.

        Todd Walker doubled with one out in the 12th. Aaron Boone then fell behind Brandon Villafuerte 0-2.

        “I thought he might throw a slider,” Boone said. “But he kept shaking off for the fastball. It was a little in.”

        Then it went out to left for Boone's 22nd homer.

        Up next: Arizona, followed by Houston.

        “If we can hang in there, we've got a shot at this thing,” Boone said. “We're going to find out how good we are.”


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