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Rookie Kearns hits first grand slam of career

5/22/2002

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Austin Kearns knew it was coming. Once it left
the bat, he knew where it was going, too.

Kearns hit a sloppy fastball for his first career grand slam as
the Cincinnati Reds took advantage of A.J. Burnett's wildness and
beat the Florida Marlins 6-1 Tuesday night.

Kearns' fifth-inning slam -- the second by a Cincinnati rookie
this season -- helped the Reds rebound from a tough series in St.
Louis that sliced their lead in the NL Central to three games.

``After losing three of four in St. Louis, we wanted to get
something going,'' Kearns said.

Burnett (5-4) helped them along, walking five in five innings,
including one with the bases loaded.

Unable to get his breaking ball over, he wound up loading the
bases in the fifth and then going to a full count on Kearns. Both
of them knew what was coming on the next pitch -- a fastball.

``Austin's really settling in,'' Reds manager Bob Boone said.
``He got a situation where he pretty much knows it's going to be a
fastball. When it's 96 mph and in the middle of the plate, he knows
what to do with it. If he pops it up, that's a different
ballgame.''

There was no doubt where it was headed when it left the bat,
leaving Burnett to drop his head in disgust.

``If I make a pitch and get ahead, the pressure's on him,''
Burnett said. ``But the pressure was on me. He was sitting (on it)
and he got what he wanted.''

Chris Reitsma (3-0) escaped a bases-loaded, one-out threat in
the fourth and gave up seven hits before leaving with the bases
loaded and two outs in the eighth.

Danny Graves got Charles Johnson on a groundout to end the
eighth and finished for his 15th save in 19 chances.

Reitsma lost 15 games as a rookie last season, but has held
opponents to seven runs in his last six starts, a span of 35 1-3
innings. The solid stretch has lowered his ERA to 2.59 and steadied
a rotation that lost Joey Hamilton to a pulled hamstring.

The Marlins fell to 2-6 on the longest road trip in franchise
history, a 14-game, four-city trek that has been filled with
homers. Marlins pitchers have given up 17 in the eight games,
including three grand slams.

Burnett set up all of the Reds' runs with his wildness. The
right-hander has walked 34 in 69 1-3 innings, one of the worst
ratios in the NL.

He gave up Todd Walker's double between a pair of outs in the
second, then intentionally walked Corky Miller to face Reitsma.
Burnett walked the pitcher, who is 0-for-13 this season, then
walked Barry Larkin to force in a run.

``That's the kicker,'' Burnett said. ``I've got to throw
strikes. A guy hits a grand slam, but five walks -- that's
unacceptable.''

Burnett walked Larkin again with one out in the fifth, then gave
up singles by Juan Encarnacion and Sean Casey that made it 2-1.
After a walk to Adam Dunn loaded the bases, Burnett went to a full
count on Kearns before leaving a fastball over the inside half of
the plate.

Kearns' sixth homer and first slam brought a curtain call from
the bundled crowd of 16,841. The temperature was 55 degrees at the
first pitch, but quickly dipped into the 40s.

Kearns' grand slam was the second by a rookie in the NL this
season. Teammate Reggie Taylor also hit one May 12.

Luis Castillo singled home Florida's run in the third, extending
his hitting streak to a season-high nine games. But the Marlins
wasted a chance to take control in the fourth, when they loaded the
bases with one out.

Johnson struck out on three pitches, the last one a 93 mph
fastball, and Andy Fox went down swinging on Reitsma's 74 mph
changeup.

Game notes
Burnett has walked at least four batters in six of his 10
starts. He threw 103 pitches -- 59 for strikes -- in five innings,
matching his shortest outing this season. ... Burnett hasn't had
much success against the Reds. In five starts, he's 1-3 with a 7.86
ERA. ... The Reds have hit three grand slams this season -- by
Kearns, Taylor and Dunn. All three have been at Cinergy Field. ...
Dunn hasn't homered in 13 games or driven in a run in his last six,
his deepest slumps of the season. ... Reitsma's 7 2-3 innings
marked the longest appearance by a Reds starter this season. They
had only two complete games last season, matching the NL record
low.