By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The Reds, despite their recent success, are not a team of tremendous depth.
Take a player or two out of their lineup and it hurts. Really hurts.
Friday night, they played three men short. And it showed.
With shortstop Barry Larkin and infielder Ryan Freel out of the starting lineup with minor injuries and outfielder Austin Kearns on the shelf for the sixth straight game, the Reds managed only five hits in a 4-2 loss to the Montreal Expos.
The game drew 32,701, with a walkup of 10,755 - the most since the Reds began keeping records on walkups in 1987.
"There's a buzz about the Reds," said first baseman Sean Casey, who had his eight-game hitting streak snapped. "They wanted to see what it was about. Unfortunately, we couldn't give them a better show."
Both of the Reds' runs came in the second inning on Adam Dunn's 15th home run of the season. After that, the Reds had four singles - three of them infield hits.
A large measure of the credit goes to Montreal starter Zach Day, a 1996 LaSalle High School graduate who beat his hometown team for the first time.
"He's always good," Dunn said. "The thing about him is he knows how to pitch."
Still, the Reds just missed tying this one in the ninth inning. With Brandon Larson on second, Wily Mo Pena drove one to the wall in left-center field.
"I thought he got it," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "He didn't hit it well enough, or it just died out there.
Catcher Jason LaRue followed with an infield single. That brought up Larkin as a pinch-hitter. He worked the count full and then took a called third strike - which he argued.
That was the game. It was only the fifth Reds loss in their last 20 games.
The pitching matchup - Day vs. Cincinnati's Jose Acevedo - was the same as Saturday's in Montreal. Acevedo won that one 4-1.
Acevedo pitched very well to everyone except Brad Wilkerson on Friday. The Expos right fielder hit a home run in back-to-back at-bats to account for Montreal's last three runs.
Wilkerson's two-run shot in the seventh was the game-winning hit.
"Just one pitch makes a big difference," Acevedo said. "It was a fastball. The pitch came back over the plate, and he got it."
Acevedo went seven innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and ending a streak of three quality starts. He struck out seven and walked two.
Day walked Ken Griffey Jr. on four pitches to start the second inning, then Dunn drove a 2-2 pitch out to right. Dunn broke his bat on the swing.
"That sounds like a bad thing," he said. "But the way I'm going it's not."
Dunn is heating up, at least from a power standpoint. It was his fourth home run in his last six games. Unfortunately for him, the home runs are the only hits he has in that period. In fact, he doesn't have a hit other than a home run since the third inning of a May 22 game against the Houston Astros.
The Expos cut the lead to one in the fourth.
Montreal tied it in the fifth. Wilkerson jumped on a first pitch from Acevedo and hit it out to right-center for his eighth home run.
Day was rolling pretty well by then. The tightest jam he was in was with runners on first and second with one out in the sixth. But he escaped by getting Brandon Larson to take a called third strike and getting Pena on a sizzling grounder to third.
Day was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh. He went six innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He walked three and struck out five.
Terrmel Sledge led off with a single. Acevedo got the next two hitters but fell behind Wilkerson 3-0. Acevedo got the count to 3-2. Wilkerson fouled off two pitches, then ripped Acevedo's 106th pitch of the evening high to right field for a 4-2 Expos lead.
Montreal's bullpen only faced one batter over the minimum the rest of the way.
"(Acevedo) did a good job," Miley said. "Just not enough offense."
|Griffey Jr. cf||2||1||1||0||2||0||.242|
E-TBatista (4). LOB-Montreal 5, Cincinnati 7. 2B-Vidro (10), NJohnson (5). HR-Wilkerson 2 (9), off JoAcevedo 2; Dunn (15), off Day. RBIs-Wilkerson 3 (21), OCabrera (16), Dunn 2 (33). CS-Wilkerson (3), EnChavez (2). S-OCabrera. SF-OCabrera. GIDP-Carroll, DJimenez. DP-Montreal 2, Cincinnati 2.
|Day W, 4-6||6||4||2||2||3||5||99||3.52|
|Ayala H, 6||1||1||0||0||0||0||10||3.45|
|CCordero H, 8||1||0||0||0||0||2||10||1.44|
|Biddle S, 11||1||1||0||0||0||2||27||6.16|
|JoAcevedo L, 3-4||7||8||4||4||2||7||109||4.26|
HBP-by Day (Larson).
Umpires-Home, Dale Scott; First, Ron Kulpa; Second, Bill Miller; Third, Brian Gorman.
T-2:43. A-32,701 (42,271).
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