Series: Game 3 of 3

New York won 2-1

Game 1: Friday, July 19
New York 4Final
Cincinnati 2
Game 2: Saturday, July 20
New York 8Final
Cincinnati 7
Game 3: Sunday, July 21
New York 1Final
Cincinnati 9

Mets 1

(50-48, 25-28 away)

Reds 9

(51-47, 23-25 home)

    1:15 PM ET, July 21, 2002

    Cinergy Field, Cincinnati, Ohio 

    123456789 R H E
    NYM 000000001 1 - -
    CIN 02312010 - 9 - -

    W: E. Dessens (7-5)

    L: A. Leiter (9-8)

    Larkin, Larson power Reds to victory

    CINCINNATI (AP) -- The Cincinnati Reds weren't hurt at all by using just four regulars in the starting lineup.

    Kelly Stinnett

    Elmer Dessens

    Backup Brandon Larson homered and fellow reserve Kelly Stinnett drove in three runs as the Reds salvaged the final game of a three-game series by beating the New York Mets 9-1 Sunday.

    "The Z-team did a pretty good job,'' Stinnett said. "It's just a confidence-builder when you have a game like that. It puts it in the back of Bob's mind (manager Bob Boone) that he can use us at any time and we'll be ready like today.''

    The seldom-seen part of the lineup -- Larson, Stinnett and Juan Castro -- accounted for six of the Reds' 11 hits.

    "The bottom of the order needed to do it,'' Boone said. "That's really what we needed. We got some hits from some guys who really needed some hits.''

    The Mets had scored 76 runs in the past 11 games, winning eight of them, to move into a tie with Cincinnati for third place in the NL wild card race.

    But they reverted to their first-half form at the plate, failing to generate much against Elmer Dessens (7-5) and two relievers.

    "When you have a big lead, it gives you more confidence,'' Dessens said. "You can throw all of your pitches whenever you want.''

    Dessens allowed four hits in seven innings to run his scoreless streak to 17 innings. He walked two and struck out four.

    "He's really learned how to pitch,'' Boone said. "He's changing speeds. He's taking a little off of his split-finger, and he's got his slider working like a curve; it's dropping straight down.

    "He's pounding the strike zone. It's exciting to watch.''

    John Valentin's RBI single in the ninth against Danny Graves broke up the shutout bid.

    Al Leiter (9-8) allowed six runs and seven hits in four innings, his shortest outing since a four-inning stint in a May 5 loss at Houston.

    "We got some big hits against a guy who's really tough, and we kept him on the mound enough so that I think the heat made a difference,'' Boone said.

    The game-time temperature was 90 degrees.

    Leiter retired the Reds in order in the first, then walked Larson with two outs in the second to set up a two-run inning on three successive singles by Stinnett, Castro and Dessens.

    Cincinnati got three more in the third when Mets catcher Vance Wilson threw wildly to first on a bunt single by Aaron Boone, and on a two-run single by Stinnett.

    "I'll make that play 999 times out of 1,000. I just didn't do it that time,'' Wilson said. "It won't happen again.''

    Larkin homered in the fourth, his sixth, to make it 6-0, and Leiter left after that inning.

    "He looked a little tired,'' Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "He didn't look like he had much left.''

    Cincinnati added two more runs in the fifth on a double by Stinnett and an RBI single by Castro. Larson's first career homer came in the seventh.

    Game notes

    Castro broke a career-high 0-for-22 hitless streak with a second-inning single. ... Boone's 18th stolen base is a career high. ... Marco Scutaro made his major league debut, taking over at second base for New York in the sixth. He flied out in his only at-bat. ... The Mets optioned LHP Mike Bacsik to Triple-A Norfolk and recalled RHP Jae Seo from Norfolk. Seo pitched a perfect eighth in his major league debut. ... Pitching coach Don Gullett, who pitched for Cincinnati during the Big Red Machine era, was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame, along with 19th century second baseman Bid McPhee. ... The series has been hard on umpires. Larry Young left Sunday's game after the second inning with a sore knee and was replaced at third base by minor league umpire James Hoye. On Saturday, Kevin Kelley joined the umpiring crew to replace Bill Miller, who injured his right ankle on a play near the third-base dugout Friday.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press