Last year of eligibility on sports writers ballot is '06

Cincinnati Reds: Pete Rose must be reinstated soon if he ever wants to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by sports writers.

The all-time hits leader agreed to a lifetime ban from the sport 16 years ago following a gambling probe. Hall of Fame rules say anyone who is banned from baseball can't be on the ballot.

Rose must be reinstated by baseball commissioner Bud Selig by late November to appear on the Baseball Writers' Association of America 2006 ballot, the final year he would be eligible.

If Rose is not on the 2006 ballot, he would become eligible for consideration by the Veterans Committee, which includes all living Hall of Famers.

Reds' offense explodes: Austin Kearns hit two three-run homers and Felipe Lopez added another as the Reds scored six runs in the third inning and 10 in the fourth against the Diamondbacks.

The Reds sent 12 batters to the plate in the third and matched their season high with six hits in the inning. Lopez led off with a triple and scored on Rich Aurilia's sacrifice fly. Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn singled to set up Kearns' first home run.

The Reds added runs on Lopez's bases-loaded walk and Aurilia's single, which knocked Arizona starter Russ Ortiz out of the game.

They sent 14 batters to the plate against Brian Bruney and Lance Cormier in their 10-run fourth, which included Lopez's second homer in two days, and 18th of the season, and Kearns' second homer of the game, his 11 of the season. Edwin Encarnacion added a two-run single and Sean Casey and Jason LaRue each had run-scoring singles as the Reds again collected six hits.

The big innings gave them a 16-3 lead.

The Reds had more hits and runs in each inning than they did in their five-hit, 4-2 win over San Francisco on Thursday.

The last time they scored as many as six runs in two innings of the same game was on Sept. 4, 1999, when they scored nine in the fifth and six in the eighth of a 22-3 win at Philadelphia. They last scored 10 runs in an inning on Aug. 5, 2004, in the eighth inning of a 12-3 win at San Francisco.

Chicago White Sox: First baseman Paul Konerko, the team leader with 31 home runs and 78 RBI, was scratched from Friday night's series opener against the Yankees because of a lower back strain.

Konerko was injured during a final round of batting practice before the game. He is listed as day-to-day. Geoff Blum moved into the lineup at first base and catcher A.J. Pierzynski took over Konerko's cleanup spot.

Seattle Mariners: The team released slumping first baseman Scott Spiezio. Relegated to a reserve role in his second season with the Mariners, the 31-year-old Spiezio was batting .064 (3-for-47) with one homer and one RBI. His ninth-inning single Thursday ended an 0-for-23 slump.

"I thought it might happen earlier," said Spiezio, who requested a trade before the season. "I knew [manager Mike Hargrove] liked to play his guys and it was going to be hard to get at-bats.

"It was really hard for me. It's something I've never had to deal with before. I'm not very good at it," he said.

Spiezio signed a $9.15 million, three-year contract with Seattle before the 2004 season. He spent the previous four years in Anaheim, where he played a key role in the Angels' 2002 World Series victory over San Francisco. Spiezio hit .400 in the division series against the Yankees and .353 in the AL Championship Series win over Minnesota. Then he had eight RBI against the Giants in the World Series, running his RBI total to 19 for the postseason. That tied a record set by Cleveland's Sandy Alomar in 1997.

"I still feel like I can play the game," Spiezio said. "I know I'm a guy that needs consistent at-bats. Hopefully, I can get them somewhere."

The Mariners are expected to call up infielder Greg Dobbs from Triple-A Tacoma to replace Spiezio on the roster.

New York Mets: Four men who prosecutors said were part of a mob-controlled bookmaking enterprise that reached inside Shea Stadium pleaded guilty to felony charges.

Their guilty pleas, entered in a Queens courtroom, were among nine made this week by defendants in a gambling operation that allegedly processed $360 million in bets in two years.

Queens County District Attorney Richard A. Brown said the 36 people charged in the case were part of a ring that handled wagers at wire rooms in Queens and Costa Rica and benefited the Bonanno crime family.

Among those indicted was Dominic Valila, a former head groundskeeper at Shea. He pleaded guilty earlier this week to a charge of promoting gambling and was sentenced to probation.

Prosecutors said Valila took bets by telephone at the stadium. There were no alleged connections to Mets players.

On Friday, four men pleaded guilty to charges of enterprise corruption.

The ring's alleged leader, Christopher Bruno, 34, pleaded guilty earlier this week and was scheduled to be sentenced in November to three to nine years in prison.

San Francisco Giants: The team activated outfielder Moises Alou from the 15-day disabled list and had him hitting cleanup in the opener of a three-game series against the Cardinals.

Alou is hitting .328 with 13 home runs and 43 RBI. He was sidelined Aug. 3 with a strained right hamstring.

Rookie outfielder Jason Ellison was optioned to Triple-A Fresno. Ellison was hitting .277 with four homers and 24 RBI.

Los Angeles Angels: Third baseman Dallas McPherson needs surgery to shave down a bone spur on his left hip, the Los Angeles Times reported.

McPherson, who has been on the disabled list since July 8, was examined in Vail, Colo., by doctors at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic.

He is seeking a second opinion.

"If there's a way I can help this team, I will do it," McPherson told the paper. "Dr. [Richard] Steadman said I could play now, but I'd risk more damage. There's bone-on-bone friction in the joint. I want to see what a second doctor says."

St. Louis Cardinals: The team will raffle off the right to push the button on the Busch Stadium implosion, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Fans will be able to buy raffle tickets for $10. A group of 250 will be chosen for a pre-implosion gathering, and one fan will be selected to push the button.

Proceeds will benefit Cardinals Care and the United Way.

Toronto Blue Jays: Second baseman Orlando Hudson left Friday night's game against the Tigers in the seventh inning with tightness in his right hamstring.

Toronto trailed 9-4. Hudson was 2-for-3 in the game.

Chicago Cubs: Prior to their contest against the Rockies, the Cubs activated outfielder Jerry Hairston Jr. from the 15-day disabled list.

Hairston had been placed on the DL on Aug. 4 with a left elbow medial ligament injury. He is batting .261 with just four home runs and 19 RBI in 88 games this season.

"I want Jerry to play second base or left field," Chicago manager Dusty Baker said. "If there is a tough left-hander, he will play left."

In five games in a rehabilitation stint with Triple-A Iowa of the Pacific Coast League, the 29-year-old Hairston batted .318 with two RBI and three runs scored.

In a related move, the Cubs optioned outfielder Matt Murton to
Iowa. The 23-year-old batted .229 with one homer and four RBI in 25 games with the Cubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The team optioned pitcher Brian Bruney to Triple-A Tucson following Friday's loss to the Reds.

The Diamondbacks recalled right-hander Brandon Medders from Tucson.

Bruney was 1-3 with a 7.60 ERA in 46 appearances with Arizona this season. He was optioned after giving up six runs on four hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning during the Diamondbacks' 17-3 loss to the Reds.

Medders was 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA in 10 appearances with Arizona in June and July.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.