By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
SAN FRANCISCO - Ryan Dempster was in a groove Sunday. He had retired seven straight batters and 10 of 11. But he went from cruise control to collision course with a loss in about three minutes.
Dempster was two outs into the fifth inning when he gave up a double down the line to San Francisco's Ray Durham. Dempster then walked Rich Aurilia. He threw a ball to Edgardo Alfonzo before a hanging a slider.
Alfonzo hit the hanger into the bleachers behind left field. The score went from 1-0 to 4-0. The Reds had four turns at the plate, but Alfonzo's swing pretty much sealed the deal.
"That made the difference in the game," Dempster said.
The Reds went quietly from there to a 6-1 loss to the Giants before a sellout crowd of 41,163 at Pac Bell Park.
The loss meant a 3-3 road trip. The Reds, after taking the series opener here Friday, were hoping to do better than break even,
"You come in here and win that first one," Aaron Boone said. "You think you have a chance to have a really awesome trip."
No one's ever called a 3-3 trip awesome. Still, the Reds come home disappointed but encouraged. The Giants have the best record in the National League. The Colorado Rockies, who the Reds took two of three from before coming here, have the best home record in the NL.
"A split on the road is OK," Sean Casey said. "We're playing good baseball right now."
The Reds are 8-4 since the Puerto Rican Purge.
But 9-3 seemed like a real possibility when the score was only 1-0 Giants, with Dempster securing the first two outs of the fifth.
Dempster was starting one day after Chris Reitsma was scratched because of biceps tendinitis.
Dempster, of course, was coming off a 1 1/3 inning, one-hit, seven-walk disaster in Colorado.
He didn't start so well Sunday. He walked Durham on five pitches in the first. Durham moved to second on a wild pitch and Aurilia followed with the first of his four hits to drive in Durham.
But Dempster settled in.
"I still wasn't as sharp as I need to be," he said. "But I made strides."
He walked the leadoff man in the second and third but stranded them without any drama. The fourth was his first 1-2-3 inning.
The Reds, meanwhile, were up to their usual act against Kirk Rueter: Putting up zeroes.
Rueter entered Sunday 9-1 against the Reds. Through five innings, the Reds had three singles and had not gotten a runner to second base.
Still, it was only 1-0. Dempster got two routine outs to start the fifth. He said Durham hit a good pitch. Durham's shot down the right-field line just got past a driving Casey at first.
The walk to Aurilia was the killer.
"I'm still hurting myself with walks," he said. "My stuff is plenty good enough to get guys out. "
Dempster, who came into the game leading the majors in walks, now has 33 in 39 2/3 innings.
The walk to Aurilia made the bad pitch to Alfonzo all the more painful.
"I made a mistake," Dempster said. "If that pitch is a little more down, it's a different game. With the way Rueter was throwing, that put us in big hole."
The Reds would get one run back when Felipe Lopez tripled and scored on Jose Guillen's sacrifice fly in the sixth.
But the Giants added a run in the sixth and another in the seventh.
E-FLopez (8). LOB-Cincinnati 5, San Francisco 9. 2B-Durham (6), Aurilia (6). 3B-FLopez (1). HR-Alfonzo (3), off Dempster. RBIs-JGuillen (17), Aurilia (10), Alfonzo 4 (13), NPerez (5). S-Grissom. SF-JGuillen, NPerez. GIDP-Grissom.
DP-Cincinnati 1 (ABoone, JCastro and Casey).
|Dempster L, 1-2||5 1/3||5||5||5||5||4||95||7.22|
Inherited runners-scored-GWhite 2-1.
|Rueter W, 3-1||6||4||1||1||0||4||86||3.07|
IBB-off GWhite (Galarraga) 1. WP-Dempster. Balk-FRodriguez.
T-2:28. A-41,163 (41,503).
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