Sunday, May 2, 2004

Reeling Reds lose 4th straight

Astros tee off on hapless bullpen

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati Reds second baseman D'Angelo Jimenez, front, and Houston Astros' Morgan Ensberg get tangled up as each looks to first base to see a double play completed
(Pat Sullivan/The
Associated Press)
HOUSTON - Remember the Puerto Rican Purge last year, when the Reds shook up their roster after losing seven of eight games?

Maybe it's time for something along those lines.

The Reds lost their fourth straight Saturday night, falling to the Houston Astros 10-4 at Minute Maid Park.

The Reds might not need to make seven roster moves, as they did April 19 of last year. But the Reds are a team with a lot of problems.

The bullpen continued its gas-on-a-fire run. Brian Reith gave up four eighth-inning runs to erase all shadow of doubt Saturday.

"They're scuffling a bit," manager Dave Miley said.

The weakness of the bench has come to the forefront with two of the eight starting position players - Austin Kearns and Jason LaRue - on the disabled list.

Miley tried his fourth right fielder, Ryan Freel, since Kearns was hurt. Collectively, the four are 2-for-17. Corky Miler is 0-for-6 since taking over for LaRue and has not played well defensively.

The bullpen ERA is up to 5.45. Reith has given up six runs in his last two innings.

The Reds, who started the season so well, are only a game over .500 at 12-11. They are 3-5 on their current road trip.

It started to go wrong with the starting pitching. Aaron Harang failed to make a quality start (six innings or more, three runs or fewer). The Reds are 4-8 when that happens.

The Reds' bats also have been quiet. They've managed a total of 11 hits in the two losses to the Astros. Brandon Larson was most of the offense Saturday - 2-for-4 with a two-run homer.

"I feel pretty good," Larson said. "It would be nice to have gotten a win. But I got some pitches I was able to put good wood on."

Harang did a good job minimizing the damage in the first inning after giving up three straight hits to start the game. The third hit, Jeff Bagwell's single, drove in Craig Biggio. But when Bagwell tried to advance to second on the throw home, the Reds caught him in a rundown.

Jeff Kent got a second run in with a sacrifice fly.

"They were hitting everything I was throwing," Harang said.

It was Harang's worst outing of the year. He went 4 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on 10 hits. He struck out two and walked three.

Astros starter Wade Miller, who improved to 7-1 in his career against the Reds, retired the first four he faced before Adam Dunn walked. Larson followed by hitting one high off the wall in left field for his first home run of the year, tying it at 2.

The Reds took the lead in the third. D'Angelo Jimenez walked, and an out later, Ken Griffey Jr. doubled him in.

Harang allowed a run in the fourth and another in the fifth to make it 4-3.

Todd Van Poppel relieved with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth and induced Brad Ausmus to hit into a 5-4-3 double play with his first pitch.

Van Poppel allowed two runs in the sixth, but he should have gotten out of the inning unscathed.

With two outs and a runner at second, Bagwell hit a fly ball to left. Dunn lost it in the lights and it fell about 10 feet from where he was standing. Bagwell ended up with a gift double and scored on Kent's single that made it 6-3.

DJimenez 2b410011.225
Larkin ss502101.280
Griffey Jr. cf401110.224
Casey 1b300011.400
Dunn lf310012.313
Larson 3b412200.357
Freel rf300012.243
CMiller c200011.000
Valentin ph100000.059
Harang p200001.000
Van Poppel p000000.500
Romano ph100000.111
Reith p000000---
PNorton p000000---
JaCruz ph111000.200
Biggio cf323110.348
AEverett ss522002.300
Bagwell 1b523101.333
JKent 2b312410.274
Berkman lf210030.292
Hidalgo rf403300.360
Lane rf000000.333
Ensberg 3b401000.196
Ausmus c511001.267
WMiller p101000.333
OPalmeiro ph010010.238
Backe p000000.000
Gallo p000000.000
Lamb ph100000.353
Lidge p000000---
Duckworth p000000.000

LOB-Cincinnati 8, Houston 10. 2B-Griffey Jr. (7), Biggio (10), Bagwell (6), JKent (6). 3B-Hidalgo (2). HR-Larson (1), off WMiller. RBIs-Larkin (6), Griffey Jr. (14), Larson 2 (3), Biggio (17), Bagwell (18), JKent 4 (16), Hidalgo 3 (25). SB-Freel (4). S-Biggio, Ensberg, WMiller. SF-JKent, Hidalgo. GIDP-Ausmus. DP-Cincinnati 2.

Harang L, 2-14 1/3104432844.28
Van Poppel1 2/322211206.00
Reith1 1/344421388.68
WMiller W, 3-26233671103.38
Backe H, 12/310000112.45
Gallo H, 11/30000020.00
Lidge H, 2110002122.25
Inherited runners-scored-Van Poppel 3-0, PNorton 1-0, Gallo 1-0. WP-Harang, Van Poppel. T-2:53. A-40,104 (40,950).

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