Reds find Cardinals' number ... again

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

The Cincinnati Reds won in Ken Griffey Jr.'s return, not that he had much to do with it.

Griffey grounded out as a pinch-hitter in his first game since dislocating a shoulder on April 5. Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn supplied much of the offense with two-run homers in the first inning that led the Reds to a 7-2 victory over the Cardinals on Tuesday night.

"I had one shot and that was it," Griffey said. "I don't like pinch hitting. Fortunately this is just to get me back in there so I can go out there and play."

But as Griffey came back, Barry Larkin got hurt again. The Cincinnati shortstop reinjured his left calf while running the bases in the second inning and was removed for a pinch-runner. The Reds said he strained the calf and will be evaluated Wednesday.

An injury to the same calf put Larkin on the disabled list from April 14 to May 5. He was playing in his sixth game since being activated.

"Hopefully, it's not as bad as it was when I did it at Houston, but I had some of the same sensations," Larkin said. "I felt like I actually tore something in there. Hopefully, it was scar tissue."

Griffey Jr., who came off the 15-day disabled list before the game, batted for Paul Wilson (2-3) in the seventh inning and grounded to shortstop, his first appearance since dislocating his right shoulder while trying to make a diving catch on the first weekend of the season. Manager Bob Boone said Griffey would start either tonight or Thursday, but not in both games, and then likely would start every other day for a while.

"We'll have to baby him pretty much in the early going," Boone said. "He's got to see some pitches."

Griffey said he thought he'd play Wednesday, but Boone was cryptic. The manager said the decision could hinge on "how my cereal is in the morning."

Cincinnati (20-19) has won seven of eight overall to move above .500 for the first time since last Aug. 21, when the Reds were 63-62. The Reds swept a four-game series from the Cardinals last week in Cincinnati.

"I wouldn't call it luck," Dunn said. "We've played five pretty good ballgames against them, and it seems like we're doing the little things to win."

St. Louis, which had won six straight home games, has lost six of seven overall, dropping to 18-18.

Wilson allowed two runs and eight hits in six innings, and three pitchers combined for shutout relief.

Jason Simontacchi (1-3) allowed seven runs and seven hits in 1 2/3 innings, the second-shortest outing of his brief career. His ERA rose to 7.41.

"I don't have any excuses," Simontacchi said. "I just flat-out stunk. We lost the game because of me."

Manager Tony La Russa didn't disagree.

"I don't want to make too much of it, but the way Jason went about it early hurt us," La Russa said. "It was the wrong tempo. Jason is capable of better."

Kearns hit his 12th homer and two batters later Dunn hit his 13th and third in two games, a drive to center estimated at 451 feet. Aaron Boone, who had a three-homer game against the Cardinals last week, added a two-run double that chased Simontacchi in the second.

"If we get the bats heated up, we'll be OK," Dunn said.

Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer in the third for the Cardinals.

Wilson allowed at least three runs in the first inning in four of his first seven starts, entering the game with a 15.43 ERA in that inning. But he retired the Cardinals in order their first time up.

"He pitched like he knew what to do with a seven-run lead," Boone said. "He didn't walk anybody and went right at them."

Notes: Simontacchi's worst outing was a one-inning start last Aug. 2 at Atlanta in which he gave up nine runs and seven hits. ... Edgar Renteria was 2-for-4 and leads the NL with 19 multihit games. ... The Reds have won five of their last six series. ... Cincinnati has 47 runs in its last eight games. ... Jim Edmonds is in a 3-for-28 slump that has dropped his average from a league-leading .407 to .333.

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