Cincy 'pen preserves first lead in last four tries

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Grinning catcher Javier Valentin walked toward the mound and wrapped a beefy arm around Danny Graves' shoulders before patting his chest in celebration. Fans who had booed the closer's entrance now stood and cheered.

Finally, the Reds could walk off their home field with their heads raised.

Sean Casey drove in three runs with two doubles and Cincinnati's besieged bullpen ended a long stretch of miserable performances by preserving a 5-1 victory over the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night.

"It was good to get some good things going and just to get a win, to tell you the truth," Casey said.

Casey doubled home a run in the fifth and drove in two more in the seventh off reliever Dennys Reyes, spotting the bullpen a 5-1 lead -- the same margin it blew a night earlier. A relief corps that has blown its last four save chances held on.

Reds starter Brandon Claussen left in the fourth inning after taking a line drive off his pitching arm. The left-hander also twisted his left ankle as he fell and walked with a limp as he left the field and entrusted a 2-0 lead to his relievers.

Graves heard boos when he came on for the ninth inning, rough treatment for blowing two big leads and lashing out at fans in the last eight days. This time he got it done, finishing off the Reds' second win in their last 12 games.

Graves gave up two singles before retiring Damian Jackson on a routine fly to end it.

"I keep telling people that I've been through worse stretches than this, four or five games where I was miserable," said Graves, who has blown his last two save chances. "Last night, I gave up the [game-tying] double, but I still felt like I threw some good

San Diego got 12 hits but repeatedly wasted scoring opportunities, setting up the Padres' second loss in nine games.

Brian Lawrence (2-4) gave up three runs and six hits in six innings. Austin Kearns had an RBI single in the second and Valentin followed with a sacrifice fly. Casey's double made it 3-0 in the fifth.

Ken Griffey Jr. went 0-for-4, ending his 13-game hitting streak. The center fielder also made the game's pivotal play, throwing out a runner at third base as the Padres tried to rally in the sixth inning.

Reds manager Dave Miley tried to shake up the lineup by batting shortstop Rich Aurilia in the second spot. Aurilia, in a 4-for-32 slump, grounded into a double play in the first inning and pulled his left hamstring while running out his grounder in the second, forcing him from the game.

So much for that strategy.

Things got grimmer in the fourth, when Ramon Hernandez hit a liner that deflected off the back of Claussen's pitching arm. X-rays found no fracture.

The injury put more stress on a bullpen that repeatedly cracked during a 2-6 homestand. The Padres scored four times in the ninth inning off Ryan Wagner and Graves to tie the series opener and set up a 6-5, 13-inning win on Monday night.

Right-hander Todd Coffey (1-0) took over for Claussen and got the victory in his fourth big-league appearance. Jackson led off the sixth with his first homer off Coffey, cutting it to 3-1. Coffey then got a huge assist from his center fielder.

Mark Loretta singled and tried to go to third when Brian Giles
followed with a single to right-center. Griffey made a perfect, on-the-fly throw to third baseman Joe Randa, who tagged Loretta on the back as he slid into the base.

"It turned out to be a mistake," Loretta said. "When I got to second base, I read that he was going away from the base [to get the ball]. I took a chance, he made a great throw. I was trying to be aggressive and put pressure on the defense."

The Padres put most of the pressure on themselves by hitting into two double plays and stranding six runners in scoring position.

"We had numerous opportunities," manager Bruce Bochy said. "The lack of a big hit and the double-play ball killed us tonight."

Game notes
Jackson's last major-league homer was May 9, 2004, against Colorado for the Cubs. ... Ryan Klesko is 7-for-13 career with five homers off right-hander Paul Wilson, who will start for the Reds on Wednesday. Wilson is 1-6 in seven appearances against San Diego with an 8.82 ERA. ... Slumping Reds catcher Jason LaRue was out of the lineup for the second straight game. He is in an 0-for-19 skid.