Pirates still winless

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CINCINNATI – Rich Aurilia hit a three-run homer, and the surging Cincinnati Reds took advantage of an inning full of Pirates slapstick for an 11-9 victory, extending Pittsburgh’s worst start in 32 years.

The Pirates are 0-6 for the first time since 1974. The franchise record for season-opening futility is an 0-8 mark in 1955.

Freddy Sanchez had a two-run single in Pittsburgh’s three-run ninth but Rick White got Jose Castillo to ground out with Sanchez on second for his first save since June 23.

Since opening the season with an embarrassing 16-7 loss to the Cubs after President Bush’s first pitch, Cincinnati has won four in a row, including the first three games of its series with Pittsburgh.

Aurilia broke an 0-for-12 slump with a three-run homer in the second off Oliver Perez (0-1), who had a rare off game against Cincinnati. The left-hander had fanned at least 10 batters in five of his 12 career starts against the Reds, but never looked comfortable in this one.

Ken Griffey Jr. drew a bases-loaded walk from Perez in the decisive fourth inning for the 1,540th RBI of his career, tying Pittsburgh’s Willie Stargell for 30th on the career list, which includes games since 1920.

Griffey’s four-pitch walk was part of a slapstick inning that ultimately was the Pirates’ downfall. Austin Kearns led off with his first homer, and the Pirates kept it going with a series of gaffes.

Perez dropped Aaron Harang’s soft comeback grounder for an error that got it rolling, and the Reds scored on Griffey’s walk, a passed ball and a wild pitch, making it 8-3 and setting the Pirates on course for another loss.

Harang (1-1) rebounded from his discouraging opening-day start against the Cubs – nine runs in five-plus innings. The right-hander matched his career high with 10 strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings, fanning Jeromy Burnitz three times.

Castillo had three of the Pirates’ eight hits off Harang, including a two-run homer and an RBI single.

Jack Wilson’s two-run double off Mike Burns cut it to 8-5 in the seventh, but Javier Valentin’s two-run double helped the Reds pull away again in the bottom of the inning.

The top of the Reds’ order had a solid game. Ryan Freel singled three times, walked, stole two bases and scored three runs, while Felipe Lopez singled twice, walked and scored twice. Kearns, batting seventh, had a single, a double and a homer.

Perez lasted only 3 1-3 innings, giving up six hits and eight runs.

Notes: Adam Dunn had a sacrifice fly off Perez. Dunn went 1,085 plate appearances from July 22, 2003 to June 29, 2005 without a sacrifice fly. He has two in five games this season. … Pirates CF Chris Duffy ended an 0-for-15 slump with a double in the seventh. … Reds starters have gone 25 1-3 innings without walking a batter, a streak that started with Harang’s third walk on opening day. … It was the fifth time in his career that Harang struck out 10 in a game. … Twenty homers have been hit in five games at Great American Ball Park, where 246 flew out last season, the most in the majors.

AP-ES-04-08-06 1650EDT

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