<
>

Reds overcome distractions, rally past Cubs

4/7/2003

CINCINNATI (AP) -- The fans were booing. The home team was
losing. Ken Griffey Jr. was getting his dislocated shoulder
examined again.

The Cincinnati Reds' first homestand in their new ballpark was
headed for a kick-in-the-gut finale Sunday, until Sean Casey
finally emerged.

Casey drove in three runs and hit a tiebreaking solo homer in
the eighth inning for a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs that
finished off a wild first week at Great American Ball Park.

"It's been crazy,'' said Casey, who hit .158 in the first five
games. "Even the exhibition games, it was almost a playoff
atmosphere. Not being able to win the first three games was tough.

"There was a lot of weird things, and Griff is on everyone's
mind right now.''

The clubhouse was still subdued before the game as players
talked about Griffey's latest major injury. The center fielder
dislocated his right shoulder while diving for a ball in the Cubs'
9-7 victory on Saturday.

Tests found no fracture or damage to the rotator cuff. A team
doctor said during Sunday's game that Griffey will try to
rehabilitate without surgery and could be back in six-to-10 weeks.

The Reds looked like a distracted team at the outset. Two
throwing errors by third baseman Brandon Larson and a pair of walks
by Paul Wilson helped the Cubs get a 4-0 lead.

Kerry Wood couldn't hold it.

The Reds used a pair of homers -- no rarity at Great American
Ball Park -- to get their first come-from-behind victory. The Reds
went 2-4 in the opening homestand after losing a pair of opening
exhibitions against Cleveland.

"To me, that's unacceptable,'' said Wood, who threw 111 pitches
in seven innings on a 39-degree afternoon. "When you get a
four-run lead, you can't afford to let them get back in the game.
You've got to put your foot on their neck.

"It seemed like I made good pitches to get to two strikes on a
guy, then with two outs and two strikes, I'd leave one over the
plate, whether a fastball or a slider.''

The Reds scored their last four runs with two outs. Casey's
tiebreaking homer came on a 1-2 pitch off Mark Guthrie (0-1), who
hadn't allowed a run this season.

Gabe White (1-0) got the victory with 1 1-3 innings in relief of
Wilson. Scott Williamson gave up an infield single to Mark
Grudzielanek to open the ninth, then struck out Alex Gonzalez and
got Sammy Sosa to hit into a game-ending double play.

After hitting his 500th homer in the series opener Friday night,
Sosa went 1-for-7 with five walks. Williamson struck him out with
two aboard while getting the victory Saturday, and got him to hit
the game-ending grounder a day later.

Sosa is 0-for-12 career against Williamson with seven
strikeouts.

"I don't know why,'' said Williamson, who got his first save.
"I just try to keep pitches down to him and throw him the best
pitches I can. I might have success, but that doesn't mean
anything. Hopefully, I can get him to beat himself.''

Wilson didn't start a spring training game with the Reds because
of a strained rib cage and pulled hamstring. He threw 31 pitches in
the first inning as the Cubs sent eight batters to the plate and
boos filled the ballpark.

After that, he settled down and held the Cubs to only six more
hits, leaving with the score tied at 4 in the seventh inning.

"I was just trying to pitch like I can and get a lot of
groundballs,'' Wilson said. "This team's got a lot of heart.''

Austin Kearns hit a solo homer in the second to start the
comeback, and singled and scored on Casey's double to center in the
fourth.

Wood struck out five consecutive batters before Aaron Boone
tripled off the wall in left field in the sixth, Adam Dunn walked
and Casey had a two-out, RBI single. Larson followed with a single
that drove in Casey to tie it.

Game notes
The Reds wore their new red jerseys for the first time this
season. They introduced them for two exhibitions against Cleveland,
and lost both games. ... Gonzalez doubled in the seventh inning,
leaving him with a hit in each of the Cubs' first six games. He has
opened the season 12-for-26 with seven doubles. ... Reds RHP Jimmy
Haynes, who left Saturday's game with a stiff back, will have his
next start pushed back a couple of days. An MRI found no serious
injury. ... RHP Pete Harnisch, making a comeback from
reconstructive elbow surgery, lasted only one inning Sunday for
Triple-A Louisville at Toledo. He gave up five hits and three runs
in the first, then left with a tight right hamstring.