About Me

My photo
I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

No Trades by Walt Jocketty Reds Stand Pat

The trade deadline passed at four o'clock, minutes after the Reds completed a sweep of the San Francisco Giants.

The St. Louis Cardinals, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Pittsburgh Pirates all made significant deals this week. The Reds will go with who they have.

The Reds were negotiating with the Houston Astros, presumably about leadoff hitter Michael Bourn or Hunter Pence.  Pence went to Philadelphia.  Bourn went to Atlanta.

"We really weren't close," Reds GM Walt Jocketty said.  "We thought we were yesterday. What they wanted was ridiculous."

While he did acknowledge talking to Houston, the statement was a general one.

"The teams we were talking to asked for prospects and not just one or two.  We like our prospects but realize you have to trade some to make your team better.  But we weren't going to mortgage our future," Jocketty said.

"One of the reasons they asked for so many was we have some really good ones."

Houston may not want to make a trade with division rivals

"That may have been part of it.  That may be why they asked for so much," Jocketty said.

"I will make any trade that will make our roster better," Jocketty said.  "I'm not afraid to make a deal."


Johnny Cueto Keeps His Promise Shuts Out Reigning World Champs 9-0

Dusty Baker was concerned about his tired bullpen.  He asked Johnny Cueto for a complete game.  Cueto said,"I will."

Not only did he pitch a complete game, he shut out the San Franciscon Giants on three hits.

"He was masterful," Baker said.  "Our bullpen took a beating against the Mets.  Johnny gave us what we needed."

The Reds jumped on Giants' starter Barry Zito for three runs in the first inning, which was all Cueto needed but Joey Votto hit a three-run home run and Todd Frazier added the first home run of his career.

Drew Stubbs had a career-high four hits and scored three times.  Stubbs singled to start the game.  Edgar Renteria singled and Votto hit an RBI single to start the game. Brandon Phillips hit a sacrifice fly.  Jay Bruce contributed an RBI single.

The righthander reached the innings qualification for the ERA lead with the first out of the sixth.  He now leads the majors with a 1.72 ERA.

Cueto was reached for a single by former Red, Jeff Keppinger, then retired Carlos Beltran with a double play  for the first of 13 straight batters retired.  Brandon Belt walked in the sixth.  Aaron Rowand singled with two out in the inning putting the runner on second base for the only time.  Beltran singled leading of the seventh.  Belt reached on an error by Paul Janish and that was the extent of the baserunners.

"I've been working on my mechanics," Cueto said.  "I didn't turn my body as much in my delivery."

The complete game and the resurgent offense was pleasing to Baker.

"Johnny was masterful.  He works hard.  Joey is swinging the bat better and Jay (Bruce) got some runners in by doing the things we've talked about," Baker said.

Baker gave Votto Monday off.  Since then, Votto is 10-for-25 with four home runs and nine RBI.

Frazier played in his eighth game since his lastest recall.  In those games, he collected baseballs for his first hit, RBI and home run.

"I've got them all out of the way.  I'm good to go," Frazier said.

The Reds were down after being swept during the week by the New York Mets.  Veteran Miguel Cairo challenged his teammates to change their attitude and do the little things to help win games.  It made an impression on the rookie Frazier.

"I look up to the veterans on this team," Frazier said.  "Like Miguel was talking about the other day, when we put it all together, we'll be ok."



Saturday, July 30, 2011

Reds Leaky Defense Plugged by Mike Leake in 7-2 Win Over Giants

 The Cincinnati Reds got some key hits and Mike Leake overcame some shoddy defense as they beat the San Francisco Giants for the second straight day.

Seven players each had a hit for the Reds on their way to a second consecutive win for just the second time since sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-game series in Cincinnati June 13-15. Cincinnati won the series opener 4-3 in 13 innings on Friday.

The Reds are second in the National League in runs scored  to the St. Louis Cardinals but have had trouble getting key hits until tonight.

"It helped to score those first inning runs," Dusty Baker said. "We haven't been scoring a lot of runs lately."

Mike Leake, who leads the Reds in wins despite spending 13 days with Triple-A Louisville in May, earned his career-high ninth. The second-year right-hander, winner of eight games as a rookie in 2010, allowed eight hits and two runs _ one earned _ with no walks and seven strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings.

"I'm not going to stop there," Leake said of his ninth victory.

The righthander had quality starts in his last two outings but both resulted in losses as his slumping teammates scored just three runs total, including a shutout loss to Pittsburgh.

 "As a pitcher you never complain about runs," Leake said. "Our offense is coming around."

 The Giants loaded the bases with one out against Leake in the seventh, but left-hander Bill Bray came on to get Carlos Beltran to fly out harmlessly to left and Pablo Sandoval to ground out to third.

The Giants despite leading the National League West has had trouble scoring runs to support its outstanding starting pitching.

"Bray was outstanding against the middle of their order," Baker said.

Beltran flied out in the ninth and now is 1 for 14 in three games with the Giants since being traded from the Mets on Thursday. The Giants made another deal to obtain Orlando Cabrera from the Cleveland Indians.  Cabrera was with the Reds NL Central Champion from 2010.

Logan Ondrusek and Nick Masset each added a shutout inning for the Reds.

The Reds pounced on an uncharacteristically wild Madison Bumgarner for five hits and five runs while sending 11 batters to the plate in the first inning. Brandon Phillips drove in the first run with a single to left, and Jay Bruce and Chris Heisey followed with back-to-back two-run singles up the middle.

Heisey, who is seeing most of the playing time since Jonny Gomes was traded to Washington can feel the offense heating up.

 "At any point, I think our offense can take off," Heisey said. "We didn't have a lot of key hits lately but were able to sting them together tonight. As a hitter you hate to see a guy battling out there when you're not scoring runs."

Bumgarner, who hadn't walked more than one batter in any of his previous 10 starts and none in his three most recent appearances, didn't help himself with two walks in the inning. The left-hander also hit Miguel Cairo while throwing 40 pitches, 23 for strikes.

Last season the Reds handed the 21-year old, who is a cattle roping champion, his worst beating of his rookie season last year in a game in which Cincinnati squandered a huge lead.  The Reds pulled it out buy Bumgarner was take off the hook.

 The Giants got one run back on Sandoval's 446-foot home run deep into the right-center field seats leading off the second, his 11th homer of the season and second in three games, but the Reds capitalized on two Giants errors to add to two unearned runs in the fourth.

Then Reds shortstop Edgar Renteria committed two errors in the fifth to hand San Francisco a gift run.

 The veteran went to talk to Leake after his second miscue.

"You know he doesn't want to make them," Leake said. "He came in just to pick me up. When I was younger, i would have gotten angry but at some point you learn to deal with it."

"We helped them some and they helped us some.  Everybody is dragging a little bit but we have to tighten up our defense.  We have them again tomorrow during the day.  It's going to be hot.  I tell my guys just give me one more," Baker said.

Leake, who spent no time in the minor leagues until his stint in May worked cooly worked out of the jam.

"That's the sign of a good pitcher, when you can pitch yourself out of trouble," Baker said. "He has a lot of weapons.  He has the pitches to get a double play.  He's not a strikeout pitcher but can get them when he needs to."

Brandon Phillips extended his hitting streak to nine games (13 for 38, .342), the team's longest current streak.


Edgar Renteria Beats Former Mates with 13th Inning Hit in 4-3 Win over San Francisco

Edgar Renteria is the new clutch man for Cincinnati.  He got the 13th game winning hit of his career in the 13th inning to demolish the Reds four-game losing streak.

Brian Wilson was the hard luck losing pitcher.  Wilson walked Jay Bruce to start the 13th.  Miguel Cairo flied out to right.  Dusty Baker was out of players, so Jose Arredondo had to bat.  He was ordered to bunt but made an awful attempt so Baker took off the bunt.

"He didn't look very good," Baker said.

Arredondo was signed as a shortstop by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2004 but converted him to pitching in the Arizona Rookie League.  That was the last time he had a bat in his hands until the 13th inning against Wilson.

Arredondo had his own batting helmet but had to borrow a bat from Bronson Arroyo.

"I was surprised when they took the bunt off," Arredondo said through interpreter Tomas Vera. "I stepped out of the box to ask if they were sure."

Arredondo swung away and hit a high chop over Pablo Sandoval's head at third base.

"I was really, really happy when the ball went through," Arredondo said.

Edgar Renteria slashed a ball barely fair down the right field line, using body english to keep it fair.  It worked. The 2010 World Series MVP had beaten the team for which he got the big clutch hit, a three-run home run off Cliff Lee in the seventh inning of the fifth and deciding game of the World Series.

"It's always special because they are great guys," Arredondo said of the Giants. "We were lucky to win.  No matter who we play right now, we have to concentrate on winning ballgames.

The see saw game became a game of attrition.  The Reds used its entire bench when pinch hitter Todd Frazier flied to shallow left.  Nate Schierholtz caught the ball and nailed Joey Votto at the plate to end the bases loaded threat in the 10th.

Francisco Cordero was forced to pitch two innings.  He escaped a bases loaded jam in the 10th, striking out Mike Fontenot.

Guillermo Mota gave the Giants 2 2/3 tough innings, he induced Frazier's fly to extend the game.

San Francisco scored off starter Dontrelle Willis in the first inning within the first three batters.  Aaron Rowand doubled to start the game.  Willis hit Jeff Keppinger and newly acquired Carlos Beltran singled for his first hit and RBI in a Giant's uniform.

The Reds went up on Ryan Vogelsong with two runs of their own in the first.  Drew Stubbs singled.  Former Giant Fred Lewis doubled and Votto walked.  Brandon Phillips' sacrifice fly tied the contest.  Jay Bruce put the Reds up with a single.

Paul Janish was hit by a pitch leading off the second inning.  Willis singled, his third hit in three starts.  Stubbs legged out a potential double play ball to earn an RBI.

Willis held the Giants until the sixth.  A single and two walks filled the bases with no outs but Willis allowed just a sacrifice fly by Aubrey Huff to preserve the lead.

Bill Bray in his second inning gave up a run scoring double with two outs in the eighth.

Both bullpens took it from there.

Aroldis Chapman dazzled with two innings with four strikeout.  He has retired 25 of the last 26 batters he's faced.

"Our bullpen was extremely tired," Baker said. "Willis went deep in the game but it didn't work.  We had to use guys we wanted to stay away from.  They gutted it out.  They fought and fought and fought."


Friday, July 29, 2011

Miguel Cairo's Challenge to Teammates is Fine with Dusty Baker

Miguel Cairo spoke out after Thursday's loss by calling out his teammates to play better.

"You got to put it behind.  Tomorrow is another day.  We have San Francisco the next three days, we got to put it behind.  We got to start playing the way we know how to play.  You know, we stink.  Right now as a team we stink.  We don't do the little things to win games.  It's not like everything is going wrong.  You have to make it happen.  You don't go out there in the field and go, 'oh everything is going to go wrong'.  The attitude we have to have is tomorrow's another day and the attitude we have to have is to expect to win.  Right now I don't think we have that attitude.  I don't like to lose.  No one likes to lose.  We have to change our attitude.  San Francisco is coming in here and they are going to try to kick out butt.  We have to do something about it.  We have to take our tail out of our butt.  Everyone has to put a little more effort than what we've been doing,"  Cairo said.

Baker supported his veteran utility man.

"That's why we got Miguel, Rolen and Renteria," Baker said.  "Sometimes it's better coming from a teammate.  I don't put a muzzle on anyone."

Baker was the type of player to speak out during his playing days.

"When I was a player, I'd be the one to say it to them," Baker said.  "A bunch of years ago, we'd say those things and no one would know.  We'd say them and writers wouldn't write it.  Now it's straight up headlines by the time you get home."


Todd Frazier Sings Sinatra

Ken Frank insisted on "old school" music when the Tom's River South team listen to the oldies while taking batting practice.

"He played "Me and Julio Down By the  Schoolyard" and a lot of Frank Sinatra," Todd Frazier said.  "I heard it then bought a couple CD's.  I was hooked."

Frazier's intro music since his recall on July 22.is Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon"

"I mix it up between "Fly Me to the Moon" and "Come Fly with Me," Frazier said.  "Frank is a Jersey boy and one of the best singers of all-time,"

The rookie third baseman has been known to sing his favorite music.

Dusty Baker had him sing some on the Reds Winter Caravan.  At a dinner during spring training in front of about 100 people Baker told Frazier, "I'm tired of talking.  How about singing some."

Frazier doesn't recall the song he sang but obliged.

Can the rookie sing?

"He thinks he can," Baker said.  "That's what's important."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Reds Swept At Home by Mets 10-9 Cairo Says Reds Stink

Homer Bailey gave up a career high nine earned runs to put the Reds in a 9-3 hole.  The Reds comeback fell one run short and put the Reds five game under .500 for the first time since they finished the 2009 season at 78-84.

The Mets scored a run after Bailey had them with two outs and nobody on base.  David Murphy singled and stole second.  David Wright delivered him with a single.  The Mets had a .359 on base percentage with two outs in an inning; that leads the NL.  They have also scored a 197 runs with two outs, also an NL high.

The Reds fought back against Capuano, scoring two in the home half of the first. Drew Stubbs led off the game with a walk, like a leadoff hitter is supposed to do.  Joey Votto drove him in with a double and scored on a double by Brandon Phillips, like a cleanup hitter is supposed to do.

The Mets didn't wait until two were out score the rest of its next eight markers.

Lucus Duda hit a three-run double with one out in the fourth.  Jason Bay knocked Bailey out of the game before the Reds pitcher retired anyone in the fifth.  Bay's three run double was the end for Bailey.

"It happened so fast that Sam LeCure couldn't get warmed up in time," Dusty Baker said.  "The Mets hit line drives all series.  They didn't pop any up or hit any on the ground.  What did they score, 30 runs this series?  You look at their averages coming into the series and they all left 12 points higher.  That's hard to do this late in the season."

Bailey was coming off two good, winning starts over St. Louis and Atlanta but couldn't put the ball where he wanted against the red-hot Mets.

"Everytime I'd try to throw to the glove side, I left the ball out over the plate," Bailey said.

 Bailey almost got off the hook for the loss as the Reds ripped Capuano in the sixth to get within striking distance.

Jay Bruce singled and scored on a double by Ramon Hernandez.  After Todd Frazier walked, Miguel Cairo hit his second career pinch-hit home run off Manny Acosta to pull the Reds within two.  Jay Bruce doubled home Chris Heisey to make the score 9-8 after seven.

"We got enough offense to win," Bailey said.  "We should have won the game. When a starter doesn't do his job, that's what happens."

Jose Arredondo and Aroldis Chapman held the Mets.  Chapman walked Jose Reyes with one out in the eighth.  Chapman had retired the last 17 batters he faced until then.  He also finished the eighth with no damage.

Logan Ondrusek struggled in the ninth but was within a pitch of getting out of a bases loaded jam when he threw a pitch that Hernandez couldn't block.

Votto hit a home run off Jason Isringhausen to open the ninth.  Absent the wild pitch, Votto's home run would have tied the game.  Isringhausen rallied to retire, Phillips, Heisey and Bruce in order to earn his second save of the series.Cairo had plenty to say about the team but nothing about his home run.  He accepted the loss but did not like it one bit.

"You got to put it behind.  Tomorrow is another day.  We have San Francisco the next three days, we got to put it behind.  We got to start playing the way we know how to play.  You know, we stink.  Right now as a team we stink.  We don't do the little things to win games.  It's not like everything is going wrong.  You have to make it happen.  You don't go out there in the field and go, 'oh everything is going to go wrong'.  The attitude we have to have is tomorrow's another day and the attitude we have to have is to expect to win.  Right now I don't think we have that attitude.  I don't like to lose.  No one likes to lose.  We have to change our attitude.  San Francisco is coming in here and they are going to try to kick out butt.  We have to do something about it.  We have to take our tail out of our butt.  Everyone has to put a little more effort than what we've been doing,"  Cairo said.


Tony Cingrani One to Watch For Reds Future

The Reds took the 6'4" 200 lb,lefthander, Tony Cingrani, with the third choice in the 2011 draft out of Rice University.

Cingrani was used as the closer at Rice University this spring but prior to this season the 21-year old was a starter.  The southpaw has logged five starts for Billings in the Pioneer League with a 0-1 record and a 2.70 ERA.  He has 18 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings and issued just one walk.

Jared Burton, who spent time at the Reds complex in Goodyear, Arizona before the Pioneer League season began mentioned Cingrani as someone who has major league potential.

"He throw easy," Burton said, referring to his pitching motion.  Cingrani can get the ball to the plate at 97 mph at times but throws in the lower to mid 90's with good command.  The hurler from New Lenox, Illinois has held opponents scoreless in four of his five outings.  The Billings staff is "stretching him out" as he has progressed from two inning stints to three.

Jared Burton Close to Returning

Jared Burton has been on the disabled list for the entire season.  He left a spring game on March 28 because something didn't feel right.

The next day he passed strength tests and thought he would be ok.  The Reds disabled him the night before opening day.  Burton had surgery in April to clean out his right shoulder and was placed on the 60-day DL.

Burton arrived in the Cincinnati clubhouse Thursday morning after throwing in an Arizona League game over the last week.  He is encouraged by the results.

"I threw one inning in my first outing, then two innings the next two times.  I will throw two innings tomorrow (Friday) in Louisville.  I feel better than I have my whole career.  I'm free and easy.  My velocity is coming.  Even in the third outing I was 91-94 and that will get better with arm strength."


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mike Pelfrey and the Mets Sink Reds 8-2

Mike Pelfrey didn't have the best of records coming into the game with Cincinnati but he did have a complete game under his belt.

Pelfrey held the listless Reds to two runs on seven hits to complete his second game of the year.

Bronson Arroyo struggled through six innings, giving up five runs but only four were earned.

The Mets scored two runs in the first inning to set the tone for the game and the Reds seemed to wilt in the July heat.  Jose Reyes, the leading hitter in the major leagues, beat out a slow roller to thirdbaseman Miguel Cairo.  Arroyo got the next two hitters but David Wright singled.  Ryan Hanigan was charged with a passed ball.  Angel Pagan doubled to deliver both runners.

Joey Votto, who had two of the Reds seven hits, hit his 15th home run of the year with no one on to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the fourth.

"Outside of Joey Votto, we couldn't muster anything," Dusty Baker said.

The Mets cams right back though.

Pelfrey, on of the worst hitters statistically in baseball, singled to left to open the Mets' fifth..  Pelfrey was at the bottom of the list of major league averages at .029 at the time.  Reyes forced him at second but that turned out to be a bad break for the Reds.  Reyes stole second and Hanigan's throw went into center field.  Willie Harris walked to put runnets on the corner. David Murphy, who had four hits belted a double to score Reyes.  Harris scored on a fly out by Wright.

Arroyo gave up a home run to Lucas Duda in the sixth.

It has been six starts since Arroyo turned in a quality start.  He has been historically better in the second half of the season.

"It was a struggle tonight," Arroyo said.  "We got behind.  Reyes got to third and I got too fine.  You don't want to fall farther behind because we haven't been scoring runs.  I feel better now than I did two months agao.  Mediocre outings look worse when you lose 5-0 than if you win 6-5.  I'm just not able to lock things down lately.  I'm giving up too many homers."

Duda's was the 30th allowed by Arroyo this season.  The Reds record for home runs allowed in a season is 40 by Eric Milton in 2005.  For a righthanded pitcher the record is 35 by Sammy Ellis in 1966 and Aaron Harang in 2008.

"We have to talk to Bronson," Baker said.  "Everybody is banged up at this point of the season.  We have to ask him how he feels and get an honest answer."

David Wright put the game away for the Mets with a three-run home run off Jose Arredondo.  The Reds scored its second run on a triple by Jay Bruce and sacrifice fly by Chris Heisey, who will get most of the starts in leftfield since Jonny Gomes has been traded.


The Reds Kick the Ball Around in 8-6 Loss To Mets

The Cincinnati Reds scored six runs on 11 hits and it's starting pitcher Jonny Cueto did not allow an earned run in five innings but managed to lose 8-6.

Errors by usually reliable fielders, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Miguel Cairo led to six unearned runs.  Plays that should have been made but were not, went for hits that aided the Mets cause.

Two unearned runs scored in the first.  The error by Joey Votto was the culprit.

The Mets added two other error aided runs in the third this time by Brandon Phillips put the Reds behind, 4-0.

Chris Heisey, who was placed into the lineup when original starter Jonny Gomes was traded, single home Phillips in the fourth.  Votto atoned with a two-run home run in the fifth that put the Reds on top briefly.

Cairo's error led to two more unearned runs in the sixth.

The Reds never caught up.

The Reds fell three games under .500 and five games off the pace set by St. Louis.

Gomes Goes Alonso Rises

The Reds traded struggling outfielder, Jonny Gomes, to the Washington Nationals for a minor league pitcher and outfielder.

It was a couple seasons ago that the Reds gave Gomes a new start after Gomes was victimized by a numbers game in Tampa Bay. Reds fans urged Gomes to play everyday as Dusty Baker matched him up against pitchers that he could hit.  Baker platooned Gomes with Laynce Nix.  Nix is playing in Washington after the Reds decided not to resign him.
The Reds get left-handed pitcher Chris Manno and outfield Bill Rhinehart. The Reds also are picking up some of Gomes’ salary.
Manno, 22, went 1-3 with a 1.04 ERA and had 12 saves in 13 tries at Class A Hagerstown (43 innings, 20 hits, 15 walks, 69 strikeouts, one homer, .135 opponents’ batting average. He was a 26th round pick out of Duke University by the Nationals last June.
Rhinehart, 26, was hitting .283 at Class AA Harrisburg in 89 games, with 21 homers and 59 RBI. He was an 11th round pick by the Nationals in 2007. He was a minor-league All-Star in 2007 and 2008.

"We actually had a couple of clubs that had inquired about Jonny," Walt Jocketty said. "Washington was probably the most persistent. For us, it's a tough move to make in some ways because Jonny was a big part of our club last year, a guy that obviously we all think highly of as a person and a player. It gives us an opportunity to bring Alonso up and start looking at a couple of guys that could get an opportunity. It was a hard move to make in some ways because Jonny was a big part of our club last year, a guy that obviously we all think highly of as a person and a player."

Gomes was surprised and wanted to stay in Cincinnati.

"I'm bitter about leaving because I love these guys, love where this team's at, love where they're about to go. But as we see now, it's a business. By the other token, a team reached out and wanted my services," Gomes said.

"The fans have been great to me here," Gomes said. "Hopefully I made some fans here for a long time. I'll definitely be back, but on the other side. I'm a 6-year free agent after this year. I'm not burning any bridges. We'll see."

"I was a little bit, it did. But you know, this is a result-driven industry, if you will. When the results aren't there, it might be time to move. Just the (batting) average, that really killed me. you look at everything else, is kind of there. It would have been nice to have opportunity to turn that around. This is an opportunity for Chris Heisey to take off and show what he's made of."

Gomes showed gratitude to the Reds for giving him a chance at fresh start to his career.

"In 2008, the end of that season, individually I was kind of left in the weeds and Walt Jocketty and Dusty Baker gave me the opportunity," Gomes said. "I came over here and started out in Louisville, came up through the minor league system and had a great run."

Cincinnati recalled Yonder Alonso from Louisville.  Alonso was hitting .296 with 13 home runs and 56 RBI.

Alonso the Reds first pick in the 2008 draft.  He will give the Reds another lefthanded hitter off the bench that can hit with power.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Colerain State Champion Players Sign With NFL Teams

Cobran'i Mixon signed with the Detroit Lions.  Brian Lainhart signed with the Cincinnati Bengals and Eugene Clifford signed with the Baltimore Ravens.

Mixon first attended the University of Michigan but transferred to Kent State to join Lainhart, who was the career NCAA interception leader going into his senior season for Golden Flashes.

Clifford originally played at Ohio State but transferred to Tennesee State to finish his collegiate career.

All three played on the Colerain 2004 state championship team, all on defense.  Lainhart was injured much of the season but played a role late in the playoff run.


Colerain Looks Tough

A football team's real worth is proven only on the field of battle, but in most cases the team that is good in action looks good on paper.  And if this is true, look out Hamilton County Suburban League American Division; Colerain looks great on paper.

For openers, the Cardinals of Jim Daugherty have eight starters and 18 lettermen coming back form last season's  league runnersup.  In addition the cream of the 1969 reserve team that went 9-0 is battling for varsity positions.

Last year's backfield star was Dan Windhorst.  He is graduated though and will be replaced by Gary Steinker, who actually outplayed Windhorst until injured in the third game, according to Daugherty.

The quarterback spot is up for grabs between Randy Evans (6'5" 200) and Ed Gampfer (6'3" 163).  They were starters on last year's Colerain basketball varsity.  Both figure to start in football this year; not both at quarterback.

"We're having both of them learn split end," said Daugherty.  "They both have good range, good speed and catch the ball well."

Colerain has good size in the line with six tackle candidates averaging 204 pounds per man.  Senior Rick Harpring, a veteran, is the best of the lot at 6-5 and 210.

Speed is there too.  Steinker and three other halfbacks all run the 40-yard dash in around 4.6 seconds.

The above is from the Cincinnati Enquirer pre-season high school football preview section dated September 7, 1970.  It was my junior year.  I will copy the previews from other teams in the coming days.  LaSalle's will be next.  Denny Dressman was the Enquirer's high school sports editor during the early 70's.  See his book in the Amazon.com ad on the bottom of this post.



Monday, July 25, 2011

Leake The Hard Luck Loser As New York Mets Rally For a 4-2 Win

Mike Leake has been outstanding in his last two outings but has two losses to show for it.

"My job is to go out and keep them off the scoreboard," Leake said.  "Our hitting will come around.  We're in a slump right now but we'll go on a five, six or seven game streak soon."

In his last start, Leake allowed one run in six innings but the Reds were shutout in Pittsburgh.

R.A Dickey with his funky knuckleball kept the home team from scoring too.  The Reds broke through first in the bottom of the sixth when Miguel Cairo singled to open the inning. One out later Brandon Phillips hit a line shot off the right center field wall.  Cairo scored all the way from first to put the Reds up a run.  The Reds had runners on first and second with one out but Ramon Hernandez hit into a 5-4-3 double play.

Leake got into trouble with one out in the seventh. The National League's leading hitter, Jose Reyes singled.  Justin Turner followed with a bloop hit that Phillips would have normally played but Reyes was running and Phillips was heading to cover second.  The hit put runners on first and third.

Bill Bray relieved Leake.  Carlos Beltran, a Met at the moment, hit a sacrifice fly to left to get the visitors even.

On came "Big" Ondrusek.  The 6'7" righthander with the powerfull sinker was brought on in hopes he could induce a double play.  The pride of Shiner, Texas had not allowed a run in his last 11 appearances.  He had allowed just one run in his last 18 appearances covering 14 2/3 innings (0.63 ERA).

This was not his night.  David Wright singled.  David Murphy hit a double to the right field corner.  Jason Bay sliced a good pitch down the right field line and the Mets had a 4-1 lead.

"We made some pitches in some improper locations that one inning," Dusty Baker said.  "They blooped a couple in there, then they blasted a couple.  That was the ballgame.  We had some opportunities but didn't put the ball in play, where crazy things can happen.  They got the big hits and we didn't."

The Reds did score in the bottom of the seventh inning but squandered another opportunity. Paul Janish had three hits after returning from Louisville where his approach.  Janish doubled with one out.  Drew Stubbs singled up the middle to score Janish.  He stole second while Cairo walked. New York manager Terry Collins brought in his lone lefty, Tim Byrdak to face Jay Bruce.

When last seen, Byrdak, gave up the ninth inning home run to Bruce that clinched the 2010 Central Division for the Reds.  Byrdak was with Houston last season.  This time he struck Bruce out on three pitches.

The Mets traded their opening day closer Francisco Rodriguez to Milwaukee at the All-Star break.  Collins summoned veteran Jason Isringhausen, who tried to make the Reds two years ago but couldn't.

Janish hit a squibber down the first base line.  Murphy couldn't handle on it and three players, Janish, Murphy and Isringhausen converged at the base.  Murphy was able to tag the base before Janish.  The way the inning unfolded after that, the play was a key. Ryan Hanigan reached first when Wright couldn't play his ground ball. Stubbs struck out but Cairo hit a "Baltimore Chop" single over Wright's head.  Bruce walked on five pitches. This time Phillips struck out to end the game.


Dontrelle Willis A Proud Graduate of TPU

Dontrelle Willis was seemingly washed up at 29.  I looked like he would be one of those flashes of brilliance that quickly flamed out in baseball.

A Detroit Tiger scout told Dusty Baker as he was observing young talent in the Arizona Fall League that the pitcher known as the D-Train still had the arm, the stuff, he just needed for someone to believe in him.

Willis had two horrible years but based on the advisor's trusted opinion and maybe the fact that Baker's wife went to school with Willis' mother and aunt, Baker urged the Reds to give the lefthander a chance.

Reds pitching coach Bryan Price worked with Willis this winter since the both live close together in the Phoenix area.

Willis nearly made the Reds out of spring training but minor injuries set him back and that may have been the luckiest break that the 29-year old ever had.

In Louisville with the Bats, Willis worked closely with former Reds pitcher Ted Power.

"This game is for all the people who believed in me," Willis said after the Reds bested the Braves.  Willis didn't even get the win as the starting pitcher but that point was mute.  He knew that he was all the way back to pitching effectively at the highest level. He will take nothing for granted from now on.

"I got to work with Ted Power.  Teddy Power is a guru.  I definitely owe a lot to a lot of people.  They gave me a chance. I like that we're battling every day.  I went to TPU,  Ted Power University.  I have him right here with me," Willis said as he turned around and rooted through his locker.  He came out with a Ted Power baseball card to show to the writers standing at his locker.

"I keep this with me to remind me of all the hard work he put into me," Willis said.

   Search Amazon.com for lonnie wheeler

Chris Heisey Is Getting an MRI - Joey Votto a Day Off

Chris Heisey and Drew Stubbs nearly collided on the ball off the bat of Nate McClouth in the ninth inning of Sunday nights win over Atlanta.  Heisey hit the fence with his shoulder and was sore today.

"He's sore.  I'd rather have that, both guys going for the ball then both guys pull up and the ball falls in," Dusty Baker said.  "Those are two guys that want to catch the ball."

Fred Lewis will start in left against the New York Mets.

Joey Votto is getting a day off.  Todd Frazier will get his second major league start, this time at first base.

"You've seen Joey lately, haven't you?" Baker asked.  "He's been struggling.  Today is the day to give him off.  You can tell in his concentration.  His legs look heavy.  This is a day to eat, eat, eat - force yourself, get strong, get your energy back."

Baker really wants to keep momentum going.

"This is a big day for us.  We've got to get back to .500.  The first 100 games, you at least want to start even."


Sweet Redemption by Willis and Stubbs Carry Reds to 4-3 Win Over Braves

Dontrelle Willis had two really bad years.  Drew Stubbs has been taking heat from Cincinnati fans about his mounting strike outs.

Both played huge roles in Cincinnati's 4-3 walk-off win over the Atlanta Braves in front of over 33,000 fans and a national broadcast audience.  Stubbs hit the first pitch of the ninth inning into the rightfield stands off Scott Linebrink to give the Reds two straight wins for the first time since sweeping the Dodgers on June 15.

"It's been even longer since we won three in a row," Dusty Baker said.  "We'll try to take care of that tomorrow.

Talk show hosts and fans alike have been howling about sending Stubbs to the minor leagues but he made two catches in the game that saved runs.  Stubbs 13th home run overshadowed his defensive efforts.  The less knowledgeable fans disregard defense.  The home run wouldn't have been the game winner had Stubbs not caught a ball off the bat of Nate McClouth in deep left center with the go ahead run on third base with one out.

"They've been walking off enough on us a whole bunch," Baker said.  "It's our turn to walk off on somebody. Stubbs made a great catch.  He's playing well on both sides of the ball.  He's being aggressive.  Stubbs is a second half (season) player."

Stubbs was not outwardly emotional but stood tall as he described his play.

"It was a pitch out over the plate and I put a good swing on it," Stubbs said.  "I had a couple fly balls to track down.  I missed the ball that (Martin) Prado hit on Friday night. I had to make up for it."

Stubbs made a tough catch look easy against Brian McCann in the sixth inning.  It is a shame fans tend to dwell on his 130 strikeouts.  They have also criticized the 26-year old speedster for not bunting more.  Tonight in front of millions Stubbs two hits and a walk in five plate appearances, scored two runs, stole his 25th base and his speed forced an error.

Willis kept the Atlanta Braves in check through 6 1/3 innings in spite of his finger nails cracking and a tumbling circus play to end the first inning.  Willis, who won't be 30 until January, has been through a period in which strikes were hard to come by.  He nearly made the team out of spring training and would have been brought up earlier but minor injuries upset his plans.   When he struck out Prado in the third, pitching coach Bryan Price and trainer, Steve Bauman came out to check on Willis.

"It was a cracked finger nail," Willis said.  "I've had it before.  It's no big deal.  It came on a strikeout so I hope my finger nails crack all the time."

Willis thanked the Reds for giving him a chance.

"This is for the guys that believe in me," Willis said. "I want to pay homage to them for giving me a chance.  I'm very thankful for the opportunity.  I worked with Ted Power in Louisville.  He's a guru."

The Reds built a quick 3-0 lead Stubbs reached on Prado's error leading off the game against Brandon Beachy.  Stubbs stole second and Brandon Phillips hit his 10th home run of the season.  Miguel Cairo, playing for the injured Scott Rolen hit his fourth home run in the second inning.

The Braves came back.  McCann hit his 18th home run leading off the fourth.  Freddie Freeman doubled, advanced to third on Alex Gonzalez's single.  Freeman scored when Wilkin Ramirez beat a double play relay to first base.

"We jumped on them early then didn't score for awhile," Baker said.  "Dontrelle gave us what we needed."

Willis fanned Ramirez to start the seventh but McClouth singled. Pinch hitter Julio Lugo singled.  Prado ended Willis's night with an RBI single to tie the game.

"I'm pleased with my game," Willis said.  "Brian McCann hit a home run but that's going to happen.  The bottom of their lineup hurt me tonight."

Aroldis Chapman got Jason Heyward to hit into a double play to end the seventh, then pitched a scoreless eighth.

"That was big," Baker said of Chapman's outing.

Francisco Cordero earned his fourth win by stranding a leadoff base runner, Gonzalez at third when he struck out pinch hitter Brooks Conrad to end the ninth.  The whiff followed Stubbs catch.

"You remember that Conrad hit that grand slam off Coco last year to beat us," Baker reminded.  "Coco threw some good pitches.

Since the All-Star break Cordero has a win and two saves in three appearances as he gets redemption from three blown saves that led into the break.

The Reds have closed to within three games of first place.  They are 5-4 since the break.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Abraham Phillip Miller Gets His 700th Hit

Abraham Phillip Miller the real life version of "Crash" Davis belted a home run for his 700th career minor league hit for the Louisville Bats on Saturday.

The undrafted free agent with the cartoon-like fu manchu, has been a professional since he signed with the Reds in 1998.  Like Davis the fictitious character in Bull Durham played by Kevin Costner, Miller has become a mentor to young Reds players coming through the system.  That is when he isn't baking up the major league catchers.  Corky Miller, who made his debut with Cincinnati in 2001, has 95 big league hits too with 11 home runs and 59 RBI.

Miller's blue collar career has been hammered out in 10 seasons with Cincinnati, two tours, Minnesota, Boston, Atlanta and the Chicago White

Corky was born in Yacuipa, California 35 years ago.  The tough guy who is as approachable as any player could be was hit with 21 pitches in his first 129 at bats in his first pro season and led all of minor league baseball for the next three seasons by surviving, 31,30 and 31 plunkings.

This spring when some players were complaining about signing autographs Miller told them, "If you don't like signing autographs play worse."

Kevin Costner couldn't have delivered the line any better.


Cozart to DL Janish Recalled From Louisville

The Cincinnati Reds placed shortstop Zack Cozart on the 15-day disabled list on Sunday.  The Reds recalled Paul Janish from Louisville.

Cozart has a hyperextended left elbow.  He collided with baserunner, Nate McClouth on Saturday.  Cozart was hitting .324 in 11 games.

"I've had that play millions of time," Cozart said.  "My elbow must have in just the wrong place or my glove hung up on him that stretched my elbow the wrong way.  It's frustrating because I was just getting comfortable with my routine and everything.  I will be able to swing the bat in about a week."

Cozart is expected to miss two weeks.

"At least two weeks," Dusty Baker said.

Janish was sent down after hitting .228 in 68 games.  Janish made adjustments at Louisville.

"He needed to go down and make some adjustments with Smokey Garrett (Louisville hitting coach).  That's the place to make changes in a low pressure situation," Baker said.

The move helped according to Janish

"It wasn't an ideal situation but I had to take advantage of it," Janish said. "I had to suck it up.  It was good to go back and see Rick Sweet and Smokey Garrett.  I hadn't been down there in awhile.  I started off slow but the last couple weeks I started to feel more comfortable.  It gave me a chance to work on some things.  I was getting a little down on myself."

Janish was 0-for-9 in his first three games but had nine hits in his last 15 at bats.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Reds Offense Explodes in 11-2 Win Over the Atlanta Braves

Like a carbonated beverage that's been shaken, the Reds offense bubbled over against Derek Lowe and the Atlanta Braves on Saturday afternoon.

Lowe kept the twist off cap on the Reds offense for five innings, the Reds had one run and one hit until then and the hit had absolutely nothing to do with the run.

Drew Stubbs opened the game with a walk off Lowe.  He stole second while Zack Cozart swung at an outside pitch.  Cozart bunted Stubbs to third.  Joey Votto grounded out to get the scoring started.

After that nothing for four innings.

"Lowe had us eating out of his hand," Dusty Baker said.

On the other hand Homer Bailey seemed like a wagon master on the prairie constantly surrounded by Braves.

Jason Heyward doubled with one out.  Bailey rebounded to strike out Brian McCann but Freddie Freeman singled sharply to left.  Jonny Gomes honored his give away bobble head by making a strong throw home to get the speedy Heyward easily.

As rough as that inning was, the second wasn't nearly as smooth.  Dan Uggla, the hero on Friday night, singled to extend his hitting streak to 14 games.  Bailey walked Eric Hinske.  Alex Gonzalez popped out to Ryan Hanigan the catcher.  Nate McCouth singled but a strong throw forced Uggla, who is nursing a strained calf, to stop at third.  Lowe the pitcher hit a two-run double.

"We weren't where we wanted to be pitch count wise or with location," Bailey said.  "As soon as I let the pitch go to McCann, I thought thank God Brian McCann isn't batting."

Bailey walked Martin Prado to reload the bases but worked out of it without further damaged.

"Homer scuffled.  He was getting beat up.  He won this game on guts," Baker said.

Bailey gave up five hits and three walks.  He threw 109 pitches in six innings.

"If my turn hadn't come up in the sixth inning, I would have gone out for the seventh," Bailey said in spite of the brutal heat.

The Reds had trouble in the field.  Brandon Phillips bobbled a couple ground balls but managed to get both runners.  Fred Lewis dropped a routine fly ball.  Votto made an ill advised throw on a sacrifice attempt by Lowe.  Cozart went into the runner on the play and had to leave the game with a hyper extended left elbow.  As the post game interviews were conducted, Cozart was having an MRI done.

The play put two on for the Braves with no outs but Bailey worked out of that jam too.

"You have to be able to get guys out with runners on," Bailey said.  "I got a lot of practice with that."

Edgar Renteria and Jay Bruce were both ill and didn't start but both were pressed into duty under duress.

Bruce hit for Bailey in the bottom of the sixth and seemed to find the corkscrew that released the carbonation with a double.  Baker used pitcher, Mike Leake, to run for the ailing Bruce.  The bubbly was out of the bottle.  The pressure was released.  It was only the struggling Reds second hit.

Drew Stubbs bunted for a single, something a lot of Reds fans have been screaming for.

"He works on it everyday with Billy Hatcher," Baker said.  "You still have to work on those things at this level."

Renteria doubled.  Leake and Stubbs scored to give the Reds a lead.

"You don't want to come into a game because someone gets hurt but I was ready," Renteria said.

Votto, who has been slumping with his average "down" to .314 singled with Renteria stopping at third.  Phillips doubled down the line.

The Reds took their frustrations out on Lowe and the Braves bullpen in the seventh, scoring seven times with everyone contributing.  It was the most runs they have scored in an inning since they scored seven error aided runs against the Cubs on May 16th.  They last scored 11 runs against Pittsburgh on April 13th with a seven-run frame.

One of the highlights in the inning was Todd Frazier, who made his first career start, came within a few feet of hitting a grand slam home run but settled for a three-run double.

"Everybody was hitting.  I wanted to get in on it too," Frazier said.

"We exploded," Baker said.  "I hope we memorized how we did it.  I hope this gives us our confidence back.  Momentum shifts from game-to-game but this reminds us of what we're capable of."

The Reds have been in dogfights all year.  It has been a grind.  Of the Reds 100 games 56 have been decided by two runs or fewer.  In its last 20 games the margin of defeat or victory was decided by three-runs or fewer 17 times and in one of those the Reds scored five runs in the 10th inning.

"It was just good to kick back and relax for the last three innings," Bailey said.  "It was nice not to have to fight until the end."

Zack Cozart Injured in Reds Game

Zack Cozart left the game with the Atlanta Braves with a hyper-extended left elbow.  X-rays were negative.

Cozart's arm was bent as Nate McLouth slid into secondbase to beat a throw from Joey Votto, who fielded a bunt by Atlanta pitcher  Derek Lowe.  Cozart was removed from the game immediately.

At this point it is not known if he will miss time or not.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Ball Flys Out of Great American Ball Park Dan Uggla's Ninth Inning Home Run Beats Reds 6-4

Another in a long line of close losses put the Reds three games under .500 in its 99th game of the year.

Dan Uggla, who was not in the lineup because of a calf injury, hit his first career pinch hit home run to give the Braves the winning margin.

Nick Masset suffered his fourth loss by serving up the game winner on a 3-2 pitch.

"Uggla put together a pretty good at bat," Masset said.  "I was trying to go up and in on him but I got too much of the plate."

Masset was more upset by giving up a hit to former teammate Alex Gonzalez to lead off the ninth.

"Basically, you can't give up a leadoff hit," Masset said.

Zack Cozart put the Reds up 1-0 against Jair Jurrjens, who has been one of the top National League pitchers for most of the season, starting the game with a 12-3 record and NL leading 2.26 ERA.

Bronson Arroyo, who owns the Major League lead in home runs allowed, was burned by back-to-back home runs by Jason Heyward and All-Star Brian McCann on consecutive fourth inning pitches.  Arroyo has allowed 29 home runs.  He usually takes them in stride but the usually laid back hurler was critical of his performance.  In particular the game tying home run to Martin Prado that tied the contest with two outs in the seventh.

"That was the worst execution of my whole career," Arroyo said.  "I don't deserve to win ballgames making pitches like that."

Drew Stubbs broke the gate latch to the Reds bullpen in nearly making at spectacular catch on Prado's blast.

Stubbs followed a two-run game tying home run by Freddie Lewis with a home run to put the Reds on top 4-3.  It was the third for Lewis and the 12th for Stubbs.

The Reds had a couple bright spots.

Aroldis Chapman struck out two of the four batters he faced.  Todd Frazier singled for his first major league hit.


Illness Keeps Jay Bruce on the Bench

Jay Bruce was not in the lineup on Friday.  He has been sick for about a week.

Scott Rolen to DL Up Comes Todd Frazier Reds Change Pitchers Too

The Reds placed All-Star thirdbaseman Scott Rolen on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Thursday with a strained left shoulder.  The team recalled Todd Frazier from Triple A Louisville.

Rolen missed three games this week with Miguel Cairo starting in his place.  Frazier leads the Bats and is tied for eighth in the International League with 15 home runs.  He is hitting .260 but has been around the .300 mark much of the season.  Frazier was with the Reds on May 23 and struck out in his only appearance.  He was sent out for a pitcher when the Reds pitching staff endured a 19-inning game in Philadelphia and needed another pitcher.

The Reds reinstated righthander Jose Arredondo from the 15-day disabled list and sent lefthander Jeremy Horst to Louisville.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Baker's Message and Management Gets Reds a 3-1 Win in Pittsburgh

A pair of sacrifice flies does not sell tickets but it put the Reds on the scoreboard for the first time in its three-game series with Pittsburgh.  Add to them a two out single from veteran Edgar Renteria and the Reds score enough to back the pitching of new ace Johnny Cueto.

Baker has been preaching the get-em-on-get-em-over-get-em-in approach for weeks, fundamental baseball that can put runs on the board, when players are slumping or struggling in the clutch.

Chris Heisey reached second base on a throwing error by Chase d'Arnaud to start the game.  Renteria got him over with a bunt and Joey Votto delivered him with a sacrifice fly.  Miguel Cairo hit a fly to score Jay Bruce in the second inning to plate Jay Bruce to put the Reds two runs up against Jeff Karstens.

Renteria drove in Cueto, who reached base on a two-out error again by d'Arnaud, scored.

Cueto allowed a run in six innings on four hits.

Baker allowed Cueto to hit in the seventh inning with a runner on secondbase and one out.  By resisting the temptation to hit for Cueto, allowed Baker to put his bullpen in position to close out the Pirates.

Baker wanted to get Cueto threw the seventh but failing that he had his bullpen set up in case a runner reached base.  Catcher Michael McKenry reached on an error by Scott Rolen.  Baker went to lefthander, Bill Bray to face Xavier Paul.  Matt Diaz hit for Paul and singled to put runners on first and second with no out.  Bray being lefthanded remained in the game to face, Alex Presley.  Presley bunted to try and advance the runners but it was to Bray's glove side and the reliever cut down McKenry at thirdbase for the first out.

Baker called on sinker ball pitcher Logan Ondrusek.  d'Arnaud flied out to left where Baker had his best outfield defense set up with Heisey in left and Drew Stubbs in center.  Ondrusek struck out Neil Walker to end the threat.

The Reds manager allowed Ondrusek to stay in to face All-Star Andrew McCutcheon.  He got McCutcheon to ground out to defensive replacement Zack Cozart.  Baker now had Aroldis Chapman ready to face a pair of lefthanders, Lyle Overbay and Garrett Jones.  Champan induced a ground out by Overbay and struck out Jones.

Francisco Cordero finished off the Pirates for his second consecutive 1-2-3 inning save.  Cordero hit a rough spot in the road, blowing saves, three times right before the All-Star break.  Baker's patience paid off and Cordero has retired all six batters he's faced since then.

The Reds cut its Central Division deficit to four games and come home for a long home stand.

By hanging in the race, the Reds put themselves in good position because the 2011 schedule flips into their favor for the last two months.

I Had a Hammer The Hank Aaron Stgory 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Reds Slump Continues in 1-0 Loss to First Place Pirates

James McDonald is the latest Pittsburgh pitcher to blank the Reds.

The Reds allowed another scoring threat go to seed as pinch hitter Jay Bruce struck out with the bases loaded in the seventh inning at the hands of Joe Beimel, who bailed out McDonald.

Mike Leake allowed just two hits in six innings but they came back to back in the second inning.  For the second straight game, Andrew McCutcheon drove in the winning run with a ground out.  Princetion High and University of Cincinnati grad, Josh Harrison singled with one out.  Neil Walker hit a ground rule double in front of McCutcheon.

The Reds still lead the NL in runs scored but have slumped much of the last month, failing in clutch situations at an alarming rate.  The team is 0-for-6 with the bases loaded since the All-Star break.

Cincinnati collected six hits, two more than the Pirates but it is of little consolation as the big hit that carried the team to the division tittle last year, eludes them now.

Pittsburgh maintained its hold on first place, the last time they were in first place this late in the season was 1992, when they won the NL East.

The Reds are now five games out of first, three games below .500 and searching for answers.  The Pirates have beaten the Reds in seven out of eight meetings.


Reds Blanked By Morton Again Fall In Pittsburgh 2-0

A rain delayed start put a damper on the evening and Charlie Morton drowned the Reds.

Morton authored a pair of complete games against the Red in Cincinnati.  He nearly pitched complete game shutouts twice.  Only a Jay Bruce home run with two outs in the ninth blemished his outings at Great American Ball Park.

The Reds waded through an rain delay of an hour before the game started but put Morton in trouble once it started.  Drew Stubbs was hit by a pitch.  With a full count on Zack Cozart, Stubbs was running as Cozart grounded a single through the hole at shortstop. Stubbs reached thirdbase to put runners on the corners with no outs.  Normally, with Joey Votto at the plate, Cincinnati can rely on getting the run home but Votto topped the ball back to the mound.  Morton accepted the gift and threw Votto out as Votto kicked the ground in disgust.  Morton struck out Brandon Phillips with a nasty sinker. The Pirates walked Jay Bruce intentionally. Miguel Cairo, the veteran came to the plate.

Morton got ahead in the count 1-2 when it started to rain again.  The delay lasted an hour and 20 minutes.  When it cleared Cairo fouled off two pitches and hit a hard grounder up the middle. Shortstop Chase d'Arnaud made a diving stop, flipped it Neil Walker barely in time to beat Bruce and save a run.

The lack of a key hit has been the reason the Reds have floundered around the .500 mark all year.

Dontrelle Willis the Reds starter singled with two outs in the second and Stubbs walked.  Cozart popped out and the Reds stranded five base runners in the first two frames.

Willis matched zeroes with Morton until the fourth.

d'Arnaud single to start the inning.  Walker followed with a single to right.  Bruce showed his strong arm and was just late with a throw to get d'Arnaud.  Walker went to second because Bruce missed the cut off man..  Pittsburgh didn't get a hit with runners in scoring position either.  Andrew McCutcheon grounded to short to plate d'Arnaud.  Matt Diaz flied to right to  score Walker.

Willis finished with 4 2/3 innings, allowing just five hits and striking out five.

The bullpens dominated from there.

Tony Watson replaced Morton, who left because the rain delay took a toll on his arm.  Watson pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings.  Daniel McCutcheon got Cairo to pop foul to the catcher with two men on.  Joel Hanrahan recorded his 27th save in 28 chances.

Jeremy Horst, Sam LeCure and Aroldis Chapman kept Cincinnati in the game.

The loss put the Reds four games behind the Pirrates, who took over first place in the NL Central alone.  Milwaukee lost and St. Louis was off.  The Pirates have won six of the seven games between the two rivals.