Monday, April 26, 2004

Perez sends Reds away with no fuss

Pirates pitcher dominates, and earns batters' respect

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

PITTSBURGH - In the course of a 162-game season, you're going to run into a pitcher who is having his day from time to time.

When the situation does come up, it's best to just take your hacks and move on.

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Oliver Perez, right, embraces catcher Humberto Coto after throwing a complete-game shutout against the Cincinnati Reds.
(AP photo)
That was essentially the Reds' strategy Sunday during a 6-0 loss to Oliver Perez and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Perez, a 23-year-old left-hander, pitched the first complete game of his career. He struck out 10, walked one and allowed six hits. Two Reds runners got past first base all day.

"Nasty," first baseman Sean Casey said. "He was just nasty. He pitched great. When we got guys on base, he reared back and put a little more on his fastball. He just really pitched well.

"We couldn't get anything going all day."

The game, over in 2 hours, 14 minutes, was 36 minutes shorter than the rain delay that preceded it.

The loss snaps a three-game winning streak and drops the Reds into second place in the National League Central, a game behind the Chicago Cubs.

Jose Acevedo (2-1) started and took the loss for the Reds while giving up three home runs.

Cincinnati knew early that Perez, who came to Pittsburgh from San Diego in the trade for Brian Giles, was going to be tough.

"(The trade) says something about him," Reds manager Dave Miley said.

But coming into the game, Perez had a career 9-15 record and 4.57 ERA, which shows he has problems with consistency. On Sunday, the Reds were on the wrong end of Perez' fluctuations.

"He was good, really good," shortstop Barry Larkin said. "He made big pitches. He dropped down and gave us different looks. He worked both sides of the plate, changed speeds.

"He has a lot of potential. Today, he put it all together. He pitched masterfully."

Acevedo, on the other hand, did not. Still, he had a solid outing, going six innings and allowing five runs on seven hits. He struck out eight and walked one.

But the home run continues to be his undoing. Acevedo's given up 12 runs this year, and 10 have been scored on the six home runs he's allowed.

He gave up a solo shot to Rob Mackowiak in the second inning.

The Pirates then made it 2-0 on Jack Wilson's RBI double in the third, and with Perez' stuff Sunday, being down two runs was a lot. Being down four runs was simply too much.

But that's exactly where the Reds found themselves after the fourth inning, thanks to Jose Castillo's two-run blast.

That's the pitch Acevedo would like back. The count was 2-2, with first base open, and Perez up next.

"We made a mistake there," Acevedo said.

Castillo, a rookie, crushed his second career home run to straightaway center. And the game was pretty much over.

"If we don't make a mistake - we're one pitch from getting out of it - it's still a 2-0 game," Miley said. "You don't know how it's going to turn out."

It may not have mattered, because by then, Perez was rolling.

Casey led off the seventh with a double. But he was the only Reds' runner to advance beyond first base in the last six innings.

"(Perez) was tough," Casey said. "When you throw 95 from the left side, you're going to be tough if you stay out of the middle of the plate. He did that today."

DJimenez 2b301010.250
Larkin ss401001.271
Griffey Jr. cf400001.238
Casey 1b402001.435
Dunn lf400003.327
Valentin c400000.071
WPena rf302000.318
PNorton p000000---
JCastro 3b300002.263
JoAcevedo p100001.143
Romano rf100001.000
TRedman cf400001.250
JWilson ss401101.368
Mondesi rf312010.318
CWilson 1b401002.359
Mackowiak lf411100.295
Cota c322111.250
Stynes 3b400102.191
Castillo 2b422201.297
OlPerez p201001.500

LOB-Cincinnati 6, Pittsburgh 5. 2B-Casey (9), JWilson (7). HR-Cota (2), off JoAcevedo; Castillo (2), off JoAcevedo; Mackowiak (3), off JoAcevedo. RBIs-JWilson (8), Mackowiak (6), Cota (2), Stynes (4), Castillo 2 (6). S-JoAcevedo, OlPerez. GIDP-Griffey Jr., JWilson.

Runners left in scoring position-Cincinnati 2 (Larkin, JCastro); Pittsburgh 2 (CWilson, Castillo).

Runners moved up-Mackowiak.

DP-Cincinnati 1 (JCastro, DJimenez and Casey); Pittsburgh 1 (CWilson, JWilson and CWilson).

JoAcevedo L, 2-1675518944.26
OlPerez W, 2-096001101171.74
IBB-off PNorton (Cota) 1. WP-JoAcevedo.

Umpires-Home, Doug Eddings; First, Dan Iassogna; Second, Charlie Reliford; Third, Jeff Kellogg.

T-2:14. A-13,264 (38,496).

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