By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
CLEVELAND - This one wasn't as ugly as the disasters in Oakland. But it might have stung more.
The Reds lost to the Cleveland Indians 6-5 in 11 innings Friday before a crowd of 27,308 at Jacobs Field, thanks largely to the club's 14th blown save of the season and an inability to throw strikes at critical times.
The Reds led 5-3 going into the seventh inning, but the Indians tied it with two in the seventh and won it in the 11th when Phil Norton walked pinch hitter Lou Merloni with the bases loaded.
Norton got the first two outs of the inning, then allowed a hit to Casey Blake. He moved up on a wild pitch, and Travis Hafner was walked intentionally. Norton walked Ronnie Belliard and Merloni to force in the game-winner.
The Indians' runs in the seventh came with two outs.
"Two outs in the seventh and they score two runs," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "Two outs in the 11th and they score a run. We've got to do better than that."
The Reds have lost four straight.
"We've got to come out tomorrow and try to get it going," Ryan Freel said. "This is our biggest drought of the year - the three in Oakland, then tonight. This was a big blow to us."
The Indians' bullpen, which came into the game with an 11-17 record and a 5.89 ERA, held the Reds to three hits over six innings.
"They shut us down," Miley said.
The Ken Griffey Jr. home run count remained at 498. Griffey went 3-for-5 He was probably 15 feet from having 501 homers. His single in the third short-hopped the wall; his double in the fifth hit a foot from the top of the wall; and his double in the seventh was a 395-foot shot to center.
Reds ace Paul Wilson was the victim of a blown save for the second straight start.
Wilson wasn't at his best - 5 2/3 innings, three runs (two earned) on eight hits. In fact, it was his worst outing in six starts.
"I threw a lot of pitches," Wilson said. "That's why I couldn't go any further. That's unacceptable."
But given what happened in Oakland - where the Reds were swept in three and outscored 40-16 - the Reds were glad to have it.
The Reds chased C.C. Sabathia, the ace of the Indians' staff, after five innings. Sabathia, who came in with a 2.99 ERA, allowed five runs (three earned) on seven hits. He struck out seven and walked four.
The Indians got a gift run in the first. Mark Lawton led off with a walk and was running on a pitch that Omar Vizquel took for a called third strike. Catcher Jason LaRue's throw had Lawton by 10 feet, but shortstop Felipe Lopez dropped the ball. Lawton ended up at third on the error, and Jody Gerut got him home with a sacrifice fly.
The Reds had a chance to break it open in the third. They loaded the bases with one out, but Adam Dunn took a called third strike, as did Brandon Larson.
"We had our chances," Miley said. "We've got to do a better job of making contact."
The Indians cut the lead to one in the fourth on former Reds farm hand Ben Broussard's RBI single.
The Reds got the run back and added another in the fifth. Griffey led off with a drive to left field. It hit about 17 feet up on the 18-foot wall - in other words, it was 12 inches or so from being No. 499.
Jimenez followed with a groundball ball that went right past third baseman Blake's glove. After Dunn popped out, Jimenez stole second. He went to third and Griffey scored when catcher Tim Laker's throw went into center field. Larson got Jimenez home with a sacrifice fly, giving the Reds a 5-2 lead.
Wilson did a masterful job of escaping trouble. The Indians got the leadoff man on in the second, third and fifth but couldn't get him in.
Coco Crisp's two-out single in the sixth made it 5-3 and ended Wilson's night.
"I tried my damnedest to get out of the sixth," Wilson said. "I thought I made a good pitch."
The Reds brought in left-hander Mike Matthews, who retired Matt Lawton to end the inning.
Matthews got the first two outs of the seventh as well. But then he walked Blake and hit Hafner. The Reds brought in John Riedling to face Belliard, who doubled in two runs to tie it at 5. It was the first time all year Riedling has allowed an inherited runner to score.
"We talk about it all the time," Miley said. "Throw strikes. If they beat you, they beat you. But we can't walk guys like that."
|Griffey Jr. dh||5||1||3||0||0||0||.262|
Two outs when winning run scored.
a-walked for Broussard in the 11th.
E-LaRue (6), FLopez (3), Blake (8), Laker 2 (4). LOB-Cincinnati 9, Cleveland 14. 2B-Griffey Jr. 2 (14), FLopez (2), Belliard (18), Crisp (7). RBIs-Larson (7), WPena (10), FLopez 2 (4), Gerut (27), Belliard 2 (22), Broussard (23), Merloni (8), Crisp (8). SB-DJimenez (6). CS-Freel (4), Lawton (4). S-Vizquel 2. SF-Larson, Gerut. GIDP-Casey, Lawton, Gerut, Laker.
Runners left in scoring position-Cincinnati 5 (Freel, Casey, Larson 3); Cleveland 7 (Lawton, Gerut, Blake 4, Laker).
Runners moved up-DJimenez, Lawton, Laker.
DP-Cincinnati 3 (Larson, DJimenez and Casey), (DJimenez, LaRue and Casey), (Casey, FLopez and Casey); Cleveland 2 (Belliard and Vizquel), (JJimenez, Vizquel and Broussard).
|MMatthews H, 2||1||0||2||2||1||0||19||3.38|
|Riedling BS, 3||1 1/3||3||0||0||1||1||24||3.03|
|PNorton L, 0-1||2/3||1||1||1||3||1||31||4.30|
|Riske W, 3-2||2||1||0||0||0||5||31||6.00|
Inherited runners-scored-MMatthews 2-0, Riedling 2-2, Miller 2-0.
IBB-off Riedling (Broussard) 1. HBP-by MMatthews (THafner), by PWilson (Broussard). WP-PNorton.
Umpires-Home, Jerry Meals; First, Paul Schrieber; Second, Matt Hollowell; Third, Lance Barksdale.
T-3:49. A-27,308 (43,389).
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