Thursday, August 21, 2003

Reds 2, D'backs 0

Harang Wins third straight, extends his hot streak

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Cincinnati starter Aaron Harang delivers a pitch in the fifth inning Wednesday at Arizona.
(Associated Press photo)
| ZOOM |
PHOENIX - So far, Aaron Harang is the only one of the eight pitchers the Reds obtained in July's flurry of trades to play for the big-league club.

If the results Cincinnati has gotten from Harang are any indication of what's to come, the Reds did themselves proud.

Harang won his third straight start Wednesday, throwing seven innings of four-hit, shutout ball to beat Randy Johnson and the Arizona Diamondbacks 2-0 before a crowd of 28,377 at Bank One Ballpark.

Harang, the 24-year-old right-hander obtained from Oakland in the Jose Guillen trade, faced only two batters over the minimum. He struck out six and issued no walks, and the Diamondbacks advanced only one runner to second base against him.

"He can pitch a little bit, can't he?" Reds manager Dave Miley said. "It was a photocopy of his first two starts. He kept the ball down, used the changeup, the splitter."

Perhaps the most impressive thing about his start Wednesday is this: Harang was facing Arizona for the second time in less than a week.

Harang (3-0) has gotten better in each of his three starts as a Red. He went 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs, to beat San Diego 9-5 on Aug. 9. He went 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs, to beat the Diamondbacks 3-2 Aug. 14.

Wednesday's outing lowered his ERA as a Red to 2.37.

"I didn't try to do anything differently," Harang said. "I tried to keep the ball down and get them out front with my slider and changeup."

Ryan Wagner pitched the eighth inning, and Chris Reitsma finished the game for his third save of the season.

Harang was perfect in three of his first four innings. In the one in which he wasn't - the second - he allowed a leadoff single to Luis Gonzalez and then struck out the next three batters swinging.

The Reds got to Johnson in the second inning. Kelly Stinnett hit a pitch to straightaway center field, and the ball hit about 5 feet above the 407-foot mark. Stinnett coasted to second base for a double.

He should have scored on Ruben Mateo's single to left field, but Stinnett fell down about halfway between third base and the plate. He got up and tried to scramble back to third but he was tagged out for the inning's second out.

"I stutter-stepped and lost my legs," Stinnett said. "A monkey jumped on my back."

Juan Castro followed with a double to left center to put Cincinnati ahead 1-0.

"We got hits at the right time," Castro said. "Against Randy, it's tough."

Ryan Freel, fresh up from Triple-A Louisville and playing left field, hit a 1-1 pitch out to left-center for his first major-league home run, giving the Reds a 2-0 advantage, in the third inning.

"I saw the umpire signal home run," Freel said. "I said, '... Did I just hit a home run off Randy Johnson?'

"I won't have any trouble remembering that one."

The Reds blew a scoring opportunity in the fourth. Sean Casey led off with a single and advanced to second when the ball kicked off right fielder Raul Mondesi's glove. An out later, Mateo singled. But Castro popped out to shallow left and the Diamondbacks intentionally walked Wily Mo Pena to get to Harang, who struck out on three pitches.

Johnson settled in from there. He worked 1-2-3 innings in the fifth and sixth before being lifted for a pinch-hitter.

It was Johnson's worst career outing against the Reds. He came in with a 3-1 record and 1.40 ERA in seven starts against Cincinnati and never had gone fewer than seven innings or given up more than two runs against the Reds.

Harang retired 10 straight Diamondbacks before Junior Spivey singled with two outs in the fifth inning. Spivey stole second but was stranded there.

Harang gave a up single in the sixth and another in the seventh, but each time he got a double-play ball to get out of the inning.

"Those double plays were huge," Harang said. "Anytime you get out of an inning like that, it helps."

Freel lf412101.283
Larkin ss400000.280
DJimenez 2b400001.303
Casey 1b401001.292
Stinnett c401002.246
RMateo rf412000.247
JCastro 3b301100.249
WPena cf200011.167
Taylor cf000000.217
Harang p300003.111
RWagner p000000---
Reitsma p000000.125
Counsell 3b401000.248
Cintron ss401000.305
Mondesi rf401002.257
LGonzalez lf301010.307
Hillenbrand 1b400003.282
SFinley cf300002.293
Spivey 2b302001.266
Moeller c300000.270
RJohnson p100001.136
McCracken ph100000.220
Villarreal p000000.000
Oropesa p000000---
Baerga ph100001.321
Valverde p000000---

E-Mondesi (2). LOB-Cincinnati 4, Arizona 5. 2B-Stinnett (13), JCastro (9), Cintron (17). HR-Freel (1), off RJohnson. RBIs-Freel (3), JCastro (27). SB-Freel (4), Spivey (3). CS-Freel (2). GIDP-Cintron, Hillenbrand.

Runners left in scoring position-Cincinnati 3 (WPena, Harang 2); Arizona 3 (Hillenbrand, Moeller, Baerga).

Runners moved up-JCastro.

DP-Cincinnati 2 (Casey, Larkin and Casey), (Larkin, DJimenez and Casey).

Harang W, 3-0740006852.37
RWagner H, 4110002172.40
Reitsma S, 3110012233.86
RJohnson L, 3-6662216954.90
Villarreal1 1/310002192.25

Inherited runners-scored-Oropesa 1-0.

IBB-off RJohnson (WPena) 1. WP-RWagner, Reitsma.

Umpires-Home, Mike DiMuro; First, Derryl Cousins; Second, Andy Fletcher; Third, Joe Brinkman.

T-2:31. A-28,377 (49,033).

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