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LaRue drives in winner after overnight delay

CINCINNATI (AP) -- The tiny crowd made it feel like a split-squad
game. The lack of drama and the latest cloudburst gave everyone a
feeling that it was never going to end.

Two players who had just met on the mound finished off one of
the majors' most unusual games.

Josh Hancock, who wasn't even on the Reds' roster for the game's
first pitch, wound up getting the victory Saturday after catcher
Jason LaRue doubled in the 13th inning for a 3-2 victory over the
Houston Astros.

LaRue's only hit in six at-bats during the marathon game --
suspended overnight because of rain -- ended an eight-game losing
streak that was Cincinnati's longest in a year.

No one will remember it as fondly as Hancock (1-1), who was
acquired late Friday from Philadelphia and didn't arrive until
shortly after the game resumed Saturday morning in the top of the
sixth with the score tied at 2.

The right-hander made sure to save a ball from his first big
league win.

"It might be one out of the bottom of the bag, but to me it's a
game ball," Hancock said. "It was just crazy. To come into a game
like that and come out with a win is lucky."

The Reds got Hancock in a deal for closer Todd Jones that was
completed during the game's third rain delay Friday, just before
the umpires suspended play.

He had never even met LaRue until he came in to warm up for the
13th inning.

"I met LaRue on the mound and said, 'Fastball, slider,
changeup, nice to see you," Hancock said.

After the right-hander set the side down while giving up a pair
of walks, he came to the bench and met his manager for the first
time as well.

"I didn't get a chance to introduce myself to him until after
that inning, when he was getting a sip of water," Dave Miley said.

With introductions out of the way, LaRue took it from there.

Chad Harville (0-1) set up the long-awaited ending by walking
Wily Mo Pena with two outs in the 13th. LaRue then doubled into the
gap in left-center, allowing Pena to score easily.

Both managers used up their bullpens and their benches, even
though there was another game to play.

The Astros got only one hit after the game resumed Saturday, and
the Reds managed only one themselves until LaRue's double in the
13th.

Another cloudburst made exasperated plate umpire Tim Welke wave
for the tarp again in the top of the 11th, the game's fourth delay
overall. LaRue's double ended it 19 hours, 4 minutes after Aaron
Harang opened it Friday night with a fastball for a called strike.

The umpires suspended the game Friday after the third storm of
the night moved in.

The game resumed at 11:30 a.m. EDT in a surreal setting at Great
American Ball Park. Players warmed up on the field in front of
empty stands -- the gates didn't open until 15 minutes beforehand.

Overcast skies and soft music playing on the public address
system -- Barry Manilow crooning about rain -- set a sleepy tone.
Only a few hundred fans were in the stands, tiny dots scattered
among the 40,000 mostly empty seats.

"It felt like spring training," LaRue said. "(Barry) Larkin
said it's like we're at a B game. That was the first time I've
played a game that early in the big leagues."

There wasn't a sound other than the thunk of Morgan Ensberg's
bat smacking reliever Ryan Wagner's first pitch foul. A modest
cheer went up when Ensberg grounded back to Wagner.

A meteorological quirk and a soggy single made it necessary.

Adam Dunn and Felipe Lopez hit solo homers off Pete Munro
in-between rain delays on Friday night, putting the Reds up 2-1
after five innings. The Reds could have gotten a shortened win at
that point, but the next line of storms held back for a few minutes
-- just long enough for the Astros to tie it.

As heavy rain returned, Bagwell singled to center with two outs
in the top of the sixth, trying it at 2.

Game notes
Official attendance was 32,691 -- the number of tickets sold
for Friday's game. ... Astros starters have a 1.75 ERA over the
last seven games, allowing only eight runs. ... SS Adam Everett
singled in the fourth inning, extending his hitting streak to a
career-high 11 games. ... 2B Jeff Kent is playing while he appeals
a three-game suspension Friday for a tantrum over a called strike.
... The Reds' last suspended game was in 1996, an 8-6 win over San
Diego that was played over two days because of curfew.