Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Reds 5, Cards 3

By John Fay, jfay@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Reds starting pitcher Shawn Estes follows through during the third inning.
(AP photo)
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        ST. LOUIS - Sometimes, playing a good game against a good team does wonders for a team's psyche.

        That was the case Monday when the Reds beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-3 before 37,064 fans at Busch Stadium on a typical Missouri summer day — hot and sticky.

        The Reds know their chances of catching the Cardinals in the National League Central stand between slim and none, but there's still nearly a month to play.

        A good September would help ease the sting of the awful August.

        “I think a good month would go a long way for us,” Reds third baseman Aaron Boone said. “To come in here and beat these guys in the first game is nice. Needless to say, we've been struggling as a team and individually.”

        Boone has been among the struggling Reds. He came into Sunday's game with only four hits in his last 29 at-bats, but he got the Reds going with a two-run homer in the first inning. It was Boone's 24th of the year, but his first since Aug. 13. He also had an RBI double.

Jason LaRue waits for the throw as Edgar Renteria scores on a double by Eli Marrero in the fourth inning.
(AP photo)
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        Another of the Reds' struggling players, outfielder Adam Dunn, went 3-for-4 with an RBI.

        The victory broke the Reds' three-game losing streak — all to the lowly Milwaukee Brewers — and put Cincinnati within nine games of first-place St. Louis in the NL Central.

        Breaking the losing streak was the bigger thing, however.

        “Right now, we're not thinking about the Cardinals,” Dunn said. “We're just trying to go out and play a good game. It's been so long. We've played bad since the All-Star break.”

        Left-hander Shawn Estes (5-11) won his first game as a Red, pitching 5 2/3 innings and allowing three runs on six hits.

Aaron Boone hits a two-run home run in the first inning.
(AP photo)
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        “I thought he did a real good job on a tough day,” Reds manager Bob Boone said.

        Estes allowed a run in the first, but it wouldn't have scored if Reds shortstop Barry Larkin hadn't booted a potential inning-ending, double-play ball off the bat of St. Louis third baseman Scott Rolen. Albert Pujols followed Rolen with a sacrifice fly.

        The Cardinals tied it 3-3 in the fourth on Eli Marrero's two-run double, but the Reds rallied in the fifth. Another struggling player, Larkin, started the inning with a single. Dunn followed with a single that sent Larkin to third, but Dunn was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double.

        “A learning mistake,” Dunn said.

        Boone got Larkin home with a double, and Jose Guillen scored Boone with a single, making it 5-3 Reds.

        Things got interesting in the Cardinals' fifth.

Cardinals' Scott Rolen, left, tags Todd Walker out at third on a base-stealing attempt in the first inning.
(AP photo)
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        Estes threw an inside pitch to Fernando Vina, who just let it hit him. Estes wasn't happy and let home-plate umpire Tim Tschida know about it. Vina also had something to say, and both dugouts and bullpens emptied. No punches were thrown, and there wasn't really any pushing or shoving.

        Boone argued his point after order was restored.

        “He just turns into it,” Boone said. “But it never gets called.”

        It quickly became a moot point when Vina was eliminated on a double play.

        Estes got in trouble with two outs in the sixth. Eduardo Perez walked and Edgar Renteria doubled, so Boone brought in right-hander Joey Hamilton to relieve Estes. Hamilton got Marrero to fly out and end the inning.

        Hamilton retired all seven batters he faced — three on strikeouts.

        “That was pretty impressive,“ Boone said. “I'm really excited about the way he's throwing. He's had a tremendous changeup.“

        Hamilton, the Reds' Opening Day starter, suddenly has closer potential.

        “He's going to be on the backend,“ Boone said. “You can close with the stuff he had today.“

        Current Reds closer Danny Graves got the final three outs for his 31st save.


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