Final

Series: Game 3 of 3

Cincinnati won 2-1

Game 1: Tuesday, July 1
Cincinnati5Final
Pittsburgh3
Game 2: Wednesday, July 2
Cincinnati4Final
Pittsburgh3
Game 3: Thursday, July 3
Cincinnati7Final
Pittsburgh8

Reds 7

(40-43, 19-24 away)

Pirates 8

(35-46, 16-26 home)

    7:05 PM ET, July 3, 2003

    PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

    123456789 R H E
    CIN 011002102 7 11 1
    PIT 11213000 - 8 12 1

    W: J. Fogg (5-3)

    L: R. Dempster (2-5)

    S: M. Williams (22)

    Williams struggles again in relief

    PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Matt Stairs hit two-run homers off Ryan Dempster in consecutive at-bats and the Pittsburgh Pirates held off Cincinnati's third comeback attempt in three nights, avoiding another near-collapse by closer Mike Williams to win 8-7 Thursday night.

    Stairs put the Pirates in front 4-2 with a two-run drive in the third inning, then added a second two-run shot in the fifth -- his fifth homer in 16 at-bats over five games -- as the Pirates made it 8-2.

    A night after the Reds rallied to win 4-3 against Williams despite being down to their last strike with no one on base, they almost did it again.

    Williams was brought in to protect an 8-5 lead in the ninth, but the Reds quickly scored twice on Jose Guillen's single, Ken Griffey Jr.'s double, a walk and Aaron Boone's two-run single. Boone drove in four runs.

    But Williams recovered to strike out Russell Branyan, then got Kelly Stinnett to hit into a game-ending double play for his 21st save in 25 opportunities. Stinnett also struck out with the bases loaded to end the seventh inning.

    By winning for only the 16th time in 42 home games, the Pirates avoided being swept at home by Cincinnati in a three-game series for the first time since Aug. 25-27, 1995.

    Stairs, a streak hitter throughout his career, has eight of his nine homers in a 21-game span since coming off the disabled list June 10 in Toronto. He had only one homer in his first 37 games.

    Reggie Sanders followed Stairs' second homer with a solo shot off reliever John Riedling that made it 8-2, but it still wasn't a safe lead for the Pirates, who were also beaten by a late-inning comeback Tuesday night by Cincinnati.

    Of the Pirates' 46 losses, 15 occurred when they were ahead or tied after six innings -- only one fewer loss than they had last season.

    Even with a six-run lead, Pirates starting pitcher Josh Fogg (5-3) couldn't retire a batter in the sixth, allowing Adam Dunn's triple, Boone's RBI single and Branyan's run-scoring double before being lifted. Branyan had four hits in two games while first baseman Sean Casey served a two-game suspension.

    In the seventh, Scott Sauerbeck walked Boone with the bases loaded to force in a run and put the potential go-ahead run at the plate. But Sauerbeck then struck out Branyan, and Salomon Torres came on to strike out Stinnett and strand three runners.

    Dempster (2-5) allowed at least one run in every inning while working into the fifth. Jason Kendall doubled and scored on Jeff Reboulet's single in the first, and first baseman Branyan's two-base error on Fogg's sacrifice bunt in the second scored another run.

    The game marked the midpoint of the Pirates' season. They are 35-46, one victory fewer than they had a season ago after 81 games, and are on pace for a club-record 11th consecutive losing season.

    The Reds finished 4-8 on a four-city road trip to Arizona, St. Louis, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, their most losses on a road swing since they dropped eight of nine at Cleveland, San Francisco and San Diego in June 2000.

    Game notes


    Stairs is 4-for-6 with three homers against Dempster. ... Stairs is 16-for-35 (.457) with 14 extra-base hits and 17 RBI in 21 games since coming off the disabled list. ... RHP Ryan Wagner, the Reds' top pick in the June draft, was promoted to Triple-A Louisville from Double-A Chattanooga. ... Pirates CF Kenny Lofton sat out a second straight game with a strained right calf.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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