By Kevin Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Paul Wilson chooses his words carefully, always mindful of the possible interpretations.
Another solid start for the Reds starting pitcher Tuesday improved his season record to 7-0. He lowered his ERA to 3.34. Wilson joined Houston's Roger Clemens, Anaheim's Jarrod Washburn and Texas' Kenny Rogers as the only seven-game winners in the majors.
"It feels good," said Wilson, who allowed one run on seven hits over seven innings in a 5-2 Reds win. "A lot of work still to do."
He is the first Reds starter to begin a season 7-0 since Mike LaCoss went 8-0 in 1979.
"He's been outstanding," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "Every start that he goes out there, we feel like he's going to take you late in the game and give you a chance to win. That's huge."
In his past four starts, Wilson is 4-0 with a 1.55 ERA in 29 innings pitched. On Tuesday, he threw 72 of 99 pitches for strikes.
"Paul Wilson has been our ace all year long," Reds first baseman Sean Casey said. "You really can't say enough about him."
Wilson can match a career high for wins in a season (eight in 2001 and 2003) in his next start, Sunday at Montreal.
"Baseball is a funny game. Given different circumstances, Jose Acevedo, Cory Lidle and even Aaron Harang could be 6-0 or 7-0. These guys have been throwing great," Wilson said. "It's not just me. It's a collective effort. I really feel like we want each other to do well."
KIND WORDS: Seated atop the bench in the visitor's dugout, Marlins manager Jack McKeon praised his former team Tuesday.
Then the 2003 National League Manager of the Year went a step further for its present manager.
"I think he's done a great job over there, and I hope they're smart," McKeon said of Miley. "They've got a good man over there. Don't let him get away."
Miley is under contract through this season with a club option for 2005. The Reds entered Tuesday's game with the best record in the National League and were 48-53 since Miley took over last July.
Miley managed 1,956 minor-league games, winning 57 percent of those, before the Reds hired him. He is in his 25th season as a player, coach or field manager.
"He worked hard in the minor leagues, did a great job every year and time he got bypassed," McKeon said. "He got a look and all of the sudden ... good things happen to good guys. I'd like to see him stay here for a long time."
MOVING ON UP: Third baseman Brandon Larson (left quadriceps strain) is expected to join Triple-A Louisville today to continue his rehabilitation assignment.
When Larson does return to the Reds, it's not a given he will be immediately reinstalled as the everyday third baseman.
Reds utility man Ryan Freel has started the past seven consecutive games at third base and performed well. Entering Tuesday, the Reds were 16-6 with Freel at third base and 4-6 with Larson.
"I'm really not trying to get caught up in it," Freel said. "I'll just leave it up to (Miley)."
MOVING ON UP, PART II: Reds outfielder/infielder John Vander Wal is expected to be reinstated from Louisville's disabled list today and continue his rehabilitation from January surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Vander Wal has spent the past few weeks at extended spring training.
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