Friday, September 20, 2002
Reds 5, Pirates 4
Stinnett's grand slam revives .500 hopes
By John Fay email@example.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer
PITTSBURGH - The Reds looked like the Deads for eight innings Thursday. But they were a lively bunch in the ninth, especially after Kelly Stinnett's two-out grand slam lifted them to a 5-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
Kelly Stinnett is greeted by Ray Knight and others at the dugout steps after his ninth-inning grand slam.
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It was Stinnett's first professional grand slam and extended the Reds' single-season team record to nine. Stinnett also drove in the Reds' other run, giving him a career-high five RBI.
It's a good feeling, he said. I got the ball. I'm going to retire the bat, too.
I just want to help the team win, Stinnett said. That's what I'm paid for. I haven't played as much as I'd like, but I'm not going to sulk. I'm ready when they need me.
Ken Griffey Jr. led off the ninth with a single off Pirates closer Mike Williams. It was Griffey's fourth hit, half the Reds' total to that point.
Stinnett, a little-used backup catcher, was only in the Reds' lineup because Jason LaRue suffered a severely bruised calf Wednesday.
Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. greet Stinnett at home plate.
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After Jose Guillen popped out, Adam Dunn and Barry Larkin walked. Reggie Taylor then struck out on three pitches. Up came Stinnett, who had only one previous home run this year.
But Stinnett has power. He hit nine homers in 187 at-bats last year, but injuries have limited Stinnett to 28 games and 71 at-bats this year.
We know what he can do, Reds manager Bob Boone said. If you make a mistake, he can hurt you. But Williams doesn't make many.
Williams (2-6) had converted 43 of 46 saves this season and Stinnett hadn't enjoyed much success against him.
Pirates closer Mike Williams agonizes in the dugout after giving up the slam.
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I think I was 0-for-6, Stinnett said. I struck out in the same situation last year to end the game.
Stinnett fouled off the first pitch. Then Williams hung an 84 mph slider, which Stinnett launched down the left-field line. It was clear that if it was a fair ball, it was a homer.
I saw it hooking at the end, Stinnett said. I was hoping it would stay fair.
It did, giving the Reds a 5-3 lead.
Aaron Boone prepares to tag Pokey Reese on a force at third.
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Reds right-hander Joey Hamilton (4-9) got the win with an inning of scoreless relief. Scott Williamson pitched the ninth and allowed a run, but he earned his sixth save.
The game ended on Guillen's running catch of Craig Wilson's potential gapper in right-center.
I thought it was in the gap, Guillen said. But they (the Reds' coaches) had moved me back. They said, "No doubles.' The ball died at the end. I knew I had a chance then.
If the ball had dropped, Williamson would have blown a save for the second consecutive night, because Pittsburgh had a runner at first base when Wilson hit the ball.
That was big to get out there again after last night, Williamson said. You have to show everyone you can do the job.
The win gives the Reds a much better shot at meeting a team goal: .500. They have to go 6-3 to finish the season 81-81.
Right-hander Ryan Dempster started for the Reds and threw seven solid innings after a shaky start.
Dempster gave up two hits in the first inning, two in the second and four in the third. Add in one walk and Dempster allowed nine base runners through three innings. Therefore, it was no surprise the Reds trailed 3-0.
Dempster came into the game having allowed the second-most runs and the second-most base runners in the National League. He trails Colorado Rockies left-hander Mike Hampton in both categories.
The Reds cut Pittsburgh's lead to 3-1 in the fourth. Barry Larkin led off with a double, moved up on Reggie Taylor's flyout and scored on Stinnett's single.
That was the extent of the Reds' offense against Pirates starter Brian Meadows, who went six innings and allowed six hits and one walk. In his previous three starts, Meadows was 0-3 with a 7.80 ERA.
Dempster settled down quite well. He kept the Reds in it by putting up zeros in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh.
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