By Kevin Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The door, decorated with a poster-sized baseball and nothing else, swung open.
Dan O'Brien walked out of the general manager's suite at Great American Ball Park an overall pleased man Sunday afternoon.
"So many of the things we stressed and worked on in spring training, they've carried over to the start of the year," O'Brien said of his Reds. "Obviously, the initial play of the club supports what we're trying to accomplish."
A 4-3 loss to the Pirates before 16,925 fans on Sunday was a minor blemish on an otherwise successful season-opening homestand.
The Reds won four of six games - and both series - against the Cubs and Pirates.
"I think we made a statement these first six games," relief pitcher Phil Norton said. "We opened a bunch of eyes, let people know we're not what everybody thought we were going to be.
"We came out and won our first two series. That's a big confidence builder."
Starting pitching - blended with a stingy bullpen and solid defense - figured prominently during the homestand.
Reds starters went 4-2 with a 3.57 ERA, but were helped out by a bullpen that capped the homestand with 12 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings over the last four days.
"All six games our starters kept us in the game to varying degrees," O'Brien said. "As for the bullpen, I don't know what else you can say."
Jimmy Haynes made his season debut Sunday.
The right-hander struggled with his command and worked from behind in the count several times.
In his 4 1/3 innings - the shortest outing for a Reds starter during the homestand - Haynes threw 89 pitches and allowed four runs on eight hits.
He also threw one wild pitch and hit one batter.
"He missed with some pitches, fell behind," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "In the big leagues, those guys aren't going to miss those too many times."
The Pirates scored one run in a 30-pitch first inning for Haynes. They forced him out of the game with one out in the fifth inning.
Haynes allowed two doubles in the fifth before Pittsburgh right fielder Rob Mackowiak hit a two-run homer to give the Pirates a 4-1 lead.
The bullpen took over.
John Riedling, Todd Jones and Norton retired 13 of the 15 batters they faced, and didn't allow a runner to reach second base.
Right fielder Austin Kearns ended a 3-for-21 slump and pulled the Reds to within one run with his 441-foot, two-run home run in the fifth inning.
"It was only a matter of time," O'Brien said. "That's a good sign."
Cincinnati's only scoring opportunity thereafter came with two outs in the eighth inning.
Left fielder Adam Dunn, whose second-inning homer tied the game 1-1, reached on a single up the middle. He stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error by Pirates catcher Jason Kendall.
Reds shortstop Juan Castro flew out to center field to end the inning.
"I think we are playing well, and it will definitely continue," said Dunn, who has homered in three consecutive games. "If we do this for a month, two months, people are going to say (we're) for real."
|Griffey Jr. cf||4||0||0||0||0||1||.333|
E-Kendall (2). LOB-Pittsburgh 7, Cincinnati 7. 2B-JWilson (4), Mondesi (2). HR-Kearns (1), off OlPerez; Mackowiak (1), off JHaynes; Dunn (4), off OlPerez. RBIs-Mondesi 2 (5), Mackowiak 2 (2), Kearns 2 (2), Dunn (4). SB-Mackowiak (2), Dunn (1). CS-Mondesi (1). S-OlPerez. GIDP-Hill, Griffey Jr.
Runners left in scoring position-Pittsburgh 4 (TRedman, CWilson 3); Cincinnati 3 (JCastro, JHaynes 2).
DP-Pittsburgh 1 (JWilson and CWilson); Cincinnati 1 (JCastro, DJimenez and Casey).
|OlPerez W, 1-0||5||6||3||3||2||6||88||5.40|
|Boehringer H, 1||1||0||0||0||0||3||14||9.00|
|Johnston H, 2||1 2/3||2||0||0||0||1||20||0.00|
|STorres H, 2||1/3||0||0||0||0||0||6||4.50|
|Mesa S, 3||1||0||0||0||0||2||14||0.00|
Inherited runners-scored-STorres 1-0.
|JHaynes L, 0-1||4 1/3||8||4||4||2||2||89||8.31|
HBP-by OlPerez (CMiller), by JHaynes (Kendall). WP-JHaynes.
Umpires-Home, Ted Barrett; First, Alfonso Marquez; Second, Rick Reed; Third, Ed Rapuano.
T-2:41. A-16,925 (42,271).
REDS / BASEBALL
Reds say foundation in place
Photos of Sunday's game
Relievers leave club stress-free
Kearns finally gets bat, ball to meet
Reds at Phillies series preview
Ephedra ban begins today
NL: Wood stymies Braves
AL: Ortiz bomb stops Jays in 12th
AAA: Louisville 12, Norfolk 3
Notes from Sunday's games
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Another major comes and goes without Woods
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After five years, Sixers' playoff run is finished
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