Reds edge Pirates


PITTSBURGH – Ken Griffey Jr.’s soft line drive single drove in two runs during a four-run Cincinnati seventh inning and the Reds ended a five-game losing streak, rallying from a six-run deficit in the first to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-8.

Jason LaRue and Austin Kearns homered as the Reds withstood Jason Bay’s grand slam in a six-run first against Dave Williams to deny the Pirates their first three-game sweep of any opponent since July 2004. The Reds had been outscored 28-10 during their losing streak and 16-5 in the first two games of the series.

The Reds, who had dropped nine of 13, trailed 7-5 before Scott Hatteberg and Edwin Encarnacion started the seventh with doubles against rookie reliever Matt Capps (1-1). Ryan Freel’s second RBI single of the game tied it at 7 before Damaso Marte walked pinch-hitter Javier Valentin and Felipe Lopez to load the bases.

Griffey’s liner then fell inches from a diving Jason Bay in left, scoring Freel and Valentin. The Reds had 16 hits after getting only 30 during their losing streak.

The not-always reliable Reds bullpen limited the Pirates to two runs over the final six innings after Williams gave up six runs and seven hits over three innings.

Matt Belisle (2-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the victory before David Weathers pitched the seventh and eighth, allowing a run following Jose Castillo’s leadoff double in the eighth. Todd Coffey pitched the ninth for his second career save and his first since last Aug. 28, also against the Pirates, despite giving up Freddy Sanchez’s leadoff double. He retired Jeromy Burnitz and Ronny Paulino on grounders after Nate McLouth, running for Sanchez, advanced to third.

Williams allowed the first eight batters he faced to reach base by giving up four singles, Bay’s second career grand slam, walking one and hitting a batter. Jose Hernandez reached when catcher LaRue couldn’t handle his bunt in front of the plate, drawing an error, and Jose Castillo had a run-scoring single.

Despite pitching with an unaccustomed big lead, Pirates starter Victor Santos – winless in seven starts since April 9 – gradually began giving the lead away. LaRue came out of a 1-for-18 slump with a two-run homer in the second, one of his career-high four hits, and Lopez ran his hitting streak to 12 games with an RBI single in the fourth.

Austin Kearns hit his eighth homer deep into the lower left-field stands ahead of Freel’s RBI single in the fifth that cut the Pirates’ lead to 6-5. Jeromy Burnitz hit his seventh homer in the bottom of the inning, making it 7-5.

Notes: Williams’ ERA climbed from 6.32 to 7.20 in his first career appearance against his former club. … The Pirates had 11 hits, giving them 10 or more in six of their last seven games. … Pirates SS Jack Wilson (hamstring) made his first start since May 7. … Despite Williams’ ineffectiveness, the Pirates are 1-14 against left-handed starters. … The Pirates’ last three-game sweep came July 23-25, 2004, against the Reds in Pittsburgh.

AP-ES-05-18-06 1538EDT