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Branyan homers three times, scores go-ahead run

8/4/2002

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Even when the Cincinnati Reds were down,
Russell Branyan and his teammates refused to doubt their chances.

Behind Branyan's three home runs, the Reds rebounded from an
early five-run deficit and went ahead on Brandon Larson's two-run
single off Trevor Hoffman in a five-run ninth inning for a 15-10
win Sunday over the San Diego Padres.

Branyan, who scored the go-ahead run in the ninth, hit a two-run
homer in the first inning and a solo home run in the fourth that
traveled 404 feet off Padres starter Bobby J. Jones.

Branyan then hit a two-run homer in the seventh off reliever
Mike Holtz to tie the game at 10.

"We could have folded up and taken it on home,'' said Branyan.
"There was something in that dugout, we kept fighting. Guys kept
on believing and one thing led to another.''

With a chance to tie the major league record for home runs in a
game, Branyan walked in the ninth on a 3-1 pitch from Hoffman
(1-4).

"In that situation, Hoffman is a tough pitcher,'' Branyan said.
"I'm not looking to go deep against Hoffman.''

The Reds' ninth-inning rally started with a leadoff single by
Austin Kearns, followed by Branyan's walk.

Barry Larkin then popped up a bunt as he attempted to move the
runners over. But the ball bounced in front of Hoffman, who bobbled
the ball for an error, loading the bases.

The Reds attempted a suicide squeeze, but Jason LaRue missed a
high fastball and catcher Wil Nieves tagged out Kearns.

A walk to LaRue loaded the bases for Larson, who punched an 0-2
changeup for a two-run single to short center field, knocking out
Hoffman.

"He threw me two straight fastballs, so I thought he was going
to throw me that Bugs Bunny changeup,'' Larson said. "He left it
up over the plate.''

Todd Walker followed with a three-run homer off Tom Davey to
give him five RBIs on the game, tying his career high.

"There is no quit in this team,'' Reds manager Bob Boone said.
"We've played bad at times, but the attitude has never changed.''

Hoffman pitched for the sixth time in seven games, and San Diego
manager Bruce Bochy thinks his closer might have been tired.

"I didn't want to use him today,'' said Bochy, "but we have to
get somebody to pick it up.''

Hoffman, however, refused to blame his manager.

"At no time do I want anyone second-guessing the job Bochy
did,'' Hoffman said. "I felt strong out there.''

Gabe White (5-1) came in and struck out Mark Kotsay with two
outs and runners on first and second to end the eighth and get the
win.

Branyan, who hit a two-run homer on Saturday night, started his
third straight game for the first time since being traded from
Cleveland on June 7. The left-hander believes it's not a
coincidence he's gotten hot.

"I have a better feel since I'm starting to play more,'' said
Branyan, who has nine homers with the Cincinnati and 17 overall
following his first career three-home run game.

In his last 18 games, Branyan is hitting .392 (20-for-51) with
six home run and 13 RBIs.

Aaron Boone added a two-run homer for the Reds, who had a
season-high 17 hits.

Behind Kotsay's grand slam and a three-run double by Gene
Kingsdale, the Padres took a 10-5 lead in the fifth inning.
Kotsay's slam capped a five-run second and Kingsdale's hit came in
a five-run fifth.

But Cincinnati came back with three in the sixth, including
Walker's two-run double, and Branyan's home run in the seventh to
tie the game.

The Padres pounded Reds starter Ryan Dempster, who tied a career
high by allowing 10 runs on 10 hits in four innings. Dempster
failed to retire any of the five batters he faced in the fifth, and
was knocked out on Kingsale's bases-clearing double.

Since being acquired in a trade from Florida on July 11,
Dempster is 1-4 with an 11.74 ERA in five starts.

Five Reds relievers combined on five scoreless innings.
Jones failed to sustain leads of 5-2 and 10-5, allowing seven
runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings. Jones gave up three home runs
for the second straight game.

Game notes
Branyan became the first Red to hit three homers in a game
since Greg Vaughn did it on July 7, 1999, at the Chicago Cubs. ...
Dempster also allowed 10 runs on a career-high 11 hits over four
innings in a 12-7 loss at Minnesota on June 7, while pitching for
Florida. ... Jones extended his streak of not walking a batter to
37 innings. ... Kotsay's grand slam was his third of his career,
the first since June 21, 2000, while playing for Florida.