Thursday, September 30, 2004
Kearns foils Cubs with glove and bat
Big day helps slugger salvage injury-marred season
By John Fay
Enquirer staff writer
CHICAGO - Mark down Austin Kearns for two saves and a win Wednesday.
Kearns saved three runs with a leaping catch in the third inning, brought the Reds back from the brink of defeat when they were down to their final strike in the ninth, then won it with a two-run home run in the 12th.
All that added up to a 4-3 victory before a crowd of 38,190 at Wrigley Field and dealt an absolutely crushing blow to the Chicago Cubs' playoff hopes. The Reds have taken two straight after losing the series opener.
For Kearns, the big day softened what has been a hard year.
"I'm pretty much trying to salvage something," he said. "It's been frustrating. I'm trying to build on something for next year."
The Cubs had this one all but wrapped up. They were leading 2-1 in the ninth with closer LaTroy Hawkins on the mound. Hawkins quickly got two outs. Then D'Angelo Jimenez, a tremendously patient hitter, jumped on the first pitch.
"I was lucky he threw me an inside pitch," Jimenez said.
He pulled it into the right-field corner for a triple.
Kearns swung through the first two pitches from Hawkins. He missed them by about a foot each.
"I stepped back, took a deep breath and tried to slow things down," Kearns said.
Hawkins came back with a fastball.
"It wasn't up as much as he wanted it," Kearns said.
Kearns drove the ball to the wall in left-center - it nearly got out - to tie it.
The Reds' beleaguered bullpen kept it tied until the 12th.
This time, Jimenez led off with a walk. Kearns drove the first pitch out for his eighth home run of the year.
Joe Valentine pitched the ninth, allowing an unearned run, for his fourth save.
The Cubs entered the day tied with the San Francisco Giants in the National League wild-card race.
Luke Hudson, in his final start, allowed one run on four hits over six innings. He walked four and struck out three. Hudson, a 27-year-old right-hander, finishes the year 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA in nine starts.
Adam Dunn gave the Reds a 1-0 lead by leading off the second inning with his 45th home run of the year and third in three games here.
The Cubs tied it in the third when pitcher Glendon Rusch led off with a home run. Hudson retired the next two hitters but then walked two and hit a batter to load the bases for Sammy Sosa. Sosa hit a smash to right, but Kearns leaped up and pulled it out of the ivy to end the inning. "That's about as high as he can jump," Reds manager Dave Miley said.
"I can get up a little bit," Kearns said.
Said Hudson: "He saved three runs with his glove right there."
The Reds loaded the bases in the seventh with one out against Rusch. The Cubs then went to the bullpen and former Reds. Ryan Dempster struck out Jason LaRue on three pitches. Mike Remlinger then came in and struck out Darren Bragg on three pitches.
The Cubs took the lead in the bottom of the seventh on Moises Alou's bases-loaded sacrifice fly.
E-Valentine (1). LOB-Cincinnati 7, Chicago 11. 2B-Kearns (10), Garciaparra (14). 3B-DJimenez (3). HR-Kearns (8), off Leicester; Rusch (2), off Hudson; Dunn (45), off Rusch. RBIs-Dunn (101), Kearns 3 (31), Alou (100), Rusch (3). S-NPerez. SF-Alou. GIDP-Casey, Alou, ARamirez 2.
DP-Cincinnati 3 (FLopez, DJimenez and Casey), (DJimenez and Casey), (JCastro, DJimenez and Casey); Chicago 1 (Garciaparra, NPerez and DeLee).
HBP-by Hudson (DeLee).
T-3:40. A-38,190 (39,345).