Sunday, April 13, 2003

Phillies 8, Reds 5

Defensive woes catch up with Reds

By Kevin Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Little about the moment Saturday afternoon differed from the night before.

The Reds trailed in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Phillies had their blue-gloved closer Jose Mesa on the mound.


Photos of Saturday's game
And while Reds right-fielder Austin Kearns was batting, he did so with a chance to tie the game rather than win it.

"In that situation right there, with the way (Kearns) has been swinging the bat lately, we thought we had a chance," Reds third baseman Brandon Larson said. "But he can't hit them hard all the time."

Whereas the Reds were able to overcome a costly defensive error with a Kearns walk-off home run Friday, they couldn't provide an encore rally in an 8-5 loss against the Phillies before 28,598 at Great American Ball Park.

With runners on first and second, Kearns popped out to end a game decided by more than just his final at bat.

"It would be nice to blow somebody out," said Kearns, who has three homers in his past two games. "We've just got to do a better job of trying to put together a complete game."

Trailing 3-1 by the fourth inning - Kearns and left fielder Adam Dunn hit back-to-back solo homers followed by a run-scoring single by center fielder Reggie Taylor off Philadelphia starter Kevin Millwood - the Phillies took a 4-3 in the fifth.

Reds starter Jimmy Haynes retired the first two batters that inning before allowing a single, double, two walks and another single.

Haynes, who allowed four earned runs on eight hits yet still lowered his ERA to 10.38, walked in Philadelphia's second run after close calls on his 2-2 and 3-2 pitches to Philadelphia center fielder Ricky Ledee.

"I thought he made two perfect pitches and we didn't get the call," manager Bob Boone said.

Phillies catcher Todd Pratt followed with a two-run single that gave Philadelphia a one-run lead.

The Reds added runs in the eighth and ninth.

Larson's first hit in 14 at bats, an RBI-single to left field in the eighth, cut the Phillies' lead to 6-4.

And while the offense has supplied the power - 18 homers in 11 games - and the pitching has been better, the defense has committed 16 errors and allowed 15 unearned runs so far.

"We have been a little slack on defense," first baseman Sean Casey said. "It's been a little bad streak here defensively. "

The Reds made two errors Saturday and missed converting a pair of potential double-play balls.

An error by shortstop Felipe Lopez, his second in as many games, led to two unearned runs in the ninth.

Reds second baseman Aaron Boone made it 8-5 with a single up the middle in the ninth.

"We've done some things well to win some games," he said. "But we've got to play a little better in every way.

"I think we want to find a consistent level to play at. I think that's the biggest thing. I think we've been a little inconsistent early on. But it is still early."


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