By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
CHICAGO - These last few weeks of the season for the Reds are all about young players making impressions.
Reds pitcher John Hall strikes out Sammy Sosa in the seventh inning.
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Josh Hall made a lasting one Sunday in the Reds' 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs before a crowd of 38,827 at Wrigley Field.
Everyone in that crowd was standing and screaming when Sammy Sosa came to the plate with runners at first and second in the seventh and the score 0-0.
Reliever John Riedling was ready to go. Manager Dave Miley was playing over the odds in his mind. He asked pitching coach Don Gullett for his input.
"I said you've got to let him face him," Gullett said. "He had handled Sammy pretty well."
"I thought maybe they wanted to see what I could do," Hall said. "It worked out."
Yes, it did.
Hall, a 22-year-old right-hander, struck out Sosa swinging on a curveball.
"That was an awesome experience," Hall said.
"It showed him what it takes to compete with a pennant-contending club," Gullett said.
Hall, who went 8-10 with a 3.47 ERA at Double-A this year, knows that a few strong outings in these last couple of weeks will put him in the Reds' big-league plans for 2004.
Sunday was Hall's third start for the Reds. He made a decent one in August (two runs, five innings) against San Francisco. He was hammered for six runs in four innings Tuesday against Pittsburgh.
Sunday helped him forget that.
"I needed a good start. It gave me a lot of confidence," he said. "I want to show them I want to be here (in 2004) and should be here."
The Reds scored a run in the ninth. Ray Olmedo walked, moved to second on Tim Hummel's sacrifice, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Russell Branyan's single.
Riedling pitched a 1-2-3 eighth for the win. Chris Reitsma earned his ninth save with a perfect ninth.
But Hall's outing was the key. He went seven innings (the first starter to pitch into the seventh for the Reds in 20 games), allowing seven hits.
Hall, a seventh-round pick in 1998, pitched out of jams in the first, sixth and seventh.
"That's what you have to do to be successful," Hall said. "If you get into those jams, you've got to pitch out of them. Or you're going to be out of the game."
Hall ideally would spend a year in Triple-A. But an outing like Sunday can accelerate things.
"If he gives us what he gave us today," Gullett said, "I don't think he needs (time in Triple-A). But consistency is the big thing."
LOB-Cincinnati 4, Chicago 9. 2B-Hummel (5). RBIs-Branyan (23). S-Hummel. GIDP-Branyan, CMiller.
DP-Chicago 2 (Grudzielanek, ASGonzalez and Simon), (Zambrano, ASGonzalez and Simon).
|Riedling W, 2-3||1||0||0||0||0||1||11||4.90|
|Reitsma S, 9||1||0||0||0||0||2||14||3.99|
|Zambrano L, 13-10||9||4||1||1||1||7||129||2.77|
IBB-off Hall (Simon) 1. HBP-by Zambrano (CMiller), by Zambrano (DJimenez). WP-Zambrano.
T-2:34. A-38,827 (39,241).
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