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Cincinnati's bats hit three-year low

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Tommy Phelps kept the lineup card from his
first start in Cincinnati -- the one that brought his first win and
changed his team's direction.

His second start at Great American Ball Park also was suitable
for framing.

Phelps limited the surging Reds to one double over seven innings
Wednesday, leading the Florida Marlins to a 3-0 victory that ended
Cincinnati's winning streak at seven games.

For the second year in a row, Phelps (1-0) got an unexpected
chance to start and surpassed all expectations.

"He was great," catcher Mark Redmond said. "He was the MVP of
that game."

The Reds were held to one hit for the first time since Sept. 26,
2001, when Philadelphia's Randy Wolf beat them 8-0. It seemed it
was going to take something extraordinary to end their roll, and
Phelps and the Marlins were up to it.

Hee Seop Choi hit his fourth homer in his last five games
against the Reds, who lead the NL Central and have the league's
best record after a late-May surge.

Phelps took care of the rest, handling the heart of the Reds'
order with ease. Ken Griffey Jr. went 0-for-3 against the
left-hander, ending his streak of homers in three consecutive
games.

"He shut us down and kept us off-balance," Casey said. "I
remember that from last year. It was like, 'Who's Tommy Phelps?'
and before you know it, he shut us down."

Phelps got the Marlins started on their playoff surge last
season at Cincinnati. He made his first major league start on May
23 and got his first win, an 8-4 victory that was the beginning of
Florida's turnaround.

Phelps kept the lineup card from that game -- it's framed at his
house -- and tried not to think about it too much when he returned.

"I didn't want it to be a big issue," Phelps said.

It turned out to be better than the first one. Phelps kept it
simple, letting Redmond call the pitches and run the game.

"I told him before the game, 'Put your glove where you want it
and I'll try my best to hit it," Phelps said.

He got the opportunity to start when Darren Oliver was demoted
to the bullpen. Phelps allowed only two walks and one hit in seven
innings -- Sean Casey's double just inside first base in the fourth.

Matt Perisho got the first two outs in the eighth, and Armando Benitez finished for his 17th save in 18 chances. He hasn't allowed
an earned run since Montreal's Jose Vidro homered on opening day.

Benitez's streak of 25 2/3 innings without allowing an earned
run is two outs shy of Luis Aquino's club record, set in 1994.

Todd Van Poppel (2-2) was solid in his fourth straight start,
giving up two runs and six hits in seven innings. Miguel Cabrera
singled and scored on Jeff Conine's double off the center-field
wall in the second.

Choi hit his 11th homer in the seventh inning, extending his
amazing run against the Reds. He has five career homers against
Cincinnati, his highest total against any team.

Redmond singled home another run in the ninth off Todd Jones.

Griffey, who had the decisive swing and a telling stare in the
series opener, flied out to the warning track in right field in his
first at-bat, then flied out routinely and grounded out.

During Cincinnati's 5-2 victory on Tuesday, Florida manager Jack
McKeon chose to intentionally walk Casey and have Josh Beckett
pitch to Griffey, who hit a three-run homer on the first pitch.
Griffey glared into the Marlins' dugout as he rounded the bases.

Griffey declined to talk about the glare on Wednesday or to even
acknowledge he had been miffed. It was the third time in five games that
an opponent had walked Casey to face Griffey.

Casey went 1-for-4, dropping his NL-leading average three points
to .376. He moved slowly after a hamstring tightened on his
fourth-inning double, but stayed in the game.

Game notes
A.J. Burnett is to make his third rehab start for Triple-A
Albuquerque on Friday. The right-hander had reconstructive elbow
surgery on April 29, 2003. The Marlins are hoping he can rejoin the
rotation in June. ... Casey hasn't gone more than one game without
a hit all season. ... SS Barry Larkin is one extra-base hit shy of
becoming the third Reds player to get 700. Pete Rose holds the team
record with 868, and Johnny Bench had 794. ... The last time the
Reds won more than seven in a row was 1999, when they won 10
straight under McKeon.