By Kevin Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Jack McKeon savored the moment with yet another victory cigar.
But the team he once managed wanted nothing but to look past what McKeon and his last-place Marlins accomplished Sunday.
Florida completed a three-game sweep against the Reds - its first against Cincinnati since August 2000 - with a 6-2 victory before 35,703 at Great American Ball Park.
"This is a streaky game," Reds manager Bob Boone said. "You'd like everybody to be hitting on all cylinders at all times but it never happens that way. Unfortunately, they all get hot and they all get cold."
The sweep dropped the Reds two games under .500 and 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Cubs in the National League Central.
Losers of four straight and 7 of their last 10, the Reds begin a three-game series against the Braves today in Atlanta. The Reds won two of three at home against the Braves to start the homestand.
"We started off the homestand playing well against Atlanta," right fielder Austin Kearns said. "But to lose three in a row (to the Marlins) is pretty bad."
Florida's starting pitchers in the series - Tommy Phelps, Brad Penny and Dontrelle Willis - combined to go 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings.
Willis, a left-hander with a corkscrew delivery, threw eight scoreless innings and didn't allow a Reds baserunner past second.
"We've seen some guys that from a name standpoint you'd think we'd pound on and haven't," Boone said. "I can't explain it. The kid just threw well today."
Facing a Reds starting lineup without Ken Griffey Jr. or Sean Casey - they got the day off after going a combined 7-for-9 with four runs and two homers Saturday night - Willis struck out a career-high nine and walked one.
"He was mixing up his pitches and had good control," Reds shortstop Juan Castro said. "I have to give him credit. He threw a great game."
Reds pitchers, meanwhile, gave up 10 extra-base hits to tie a Marlins club record.
Cincinnati starter Danny Graves allowed eight extra-base hits himself.
The right-hander, 3-0 with a 2.32 ERA in his previous four starts, surrendered four earned runs on 11 hits total over seven innings.
"I just didn't have the luck that I had the last few times out," he said. "It might sound weird, but there were some innings in my last few starts that I got the ball up and they ended up hitting them right at some guys and the defense made some great plays."
The Marlins took a 1-0 lead in the fourth and scored two more in the fifth.
Graves allowed back-to-back solo homers in the eighth to third baseman Mike Lowell and first baseman Derrek Lee to make it 5-0. Reds closer Scott Williamson relieved Graves and allowed a pair of doubles, the last by left fielder Brian Banks that made it 6-0.
The Reds managed little offensively until after Willis left.
Kelly Stinnett and Casey prevented a shutout with a pair of run-scoring singles in the ninth inning.
"The best teams in the league, whoever it may be, not everybody is going to be totally on the highest high at the same time," Graves said. "If that was the case, they'd be 162-0. That's how it goes."
E-Willis (1), ABoone (7). LOB-Florida 8, Cincinnati 8. 2B-LCastillo (4), Lowell 2 (15), DeLee (10), AGonzalez 2 (14), BBanks (2), Freel (1). 3B-LCastillo (3). HR-DeLee (10), off Graves; Lowell (16), off Graves. RBIs-Redmond (5), Lowell (41), DeLee 2 (26), BBanks 2 (12), Stinnett (6), Casey (21). SF-BBanks. GIDP-Redmond.
DP-Cincinnati 1 (FLopez, Freel and Dunn).
|Willis W, 2-1||8||6||0||0||1||9||102||4.50|
|Looper S, 7||1/3||0||0||0||0||0||8||2.86|
Graves pitched to 2 batters in the 8th.
|Graves L, 3-3||7||11||5||4||0||3||91||4.93|
T-2:31. A-35,073 (42,263).
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