Ishii hit hard; Dempster gets first win with Reds


CINCINNATI (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers are fading right along
with their first-half star.

Kazuhisa Ishii was badly out of sync as he failed to make it out
of the third inning Tuesday night, and the Dodgers had three errors
and a run-scoring passed ball that helped the Cincinnati Reds pull
away to a 12-4 victory.

Ishii (12-7) gave up a season-high eight runs in 2 2/3 innings --
his shortest outing in 21 starts since arriving as a free agent
from Japan. The left-hander walked six of the 20 batters he faced,
and gave up homers to Jason LaRue and Aaron Boone as the Reds
pulled ahead 8-0.

As soon as he walked Barry Larkin to open the Reds' first
inning, it was apparent Ishii was off. He wound up walking Larkin
three times in three innings.

``The tone was not good at all,'' manager Jim Tracy said. ``Kaz
did not pitch good tonight, right from the start. With all of the
walks and constantly getting behind in the count, it just
continuously rolled over and over.''

Ishii showed little emotion as the runs piled up. When Tracy
finally hopped from the dugout to replace him, Ishii tucked his
glove under his left arm, wiped his face and forcefully rubbed the
ball a few times before handing it over.

``It was just one of those things today,'' catcher Paul Lo Duca
said. ``He struggled early with the strike zone, and they were
swinging the bats well. It wasn't one particular pitch, just one of
those nights.''

Up 10-0 after four innings, the Reds squirmed as Ryan Dempster
(6-11) lapsed into bad habits before getting his first victory for

The right-hander had gone 0-3 with a 12.00 ERA in three starts
since he came from Florida in a July 11 trade. The Reds moved him
back in the rotation after his last start, giving him a chance to
try to fix his problems during bullpen workouts.

``He has a ways to go, but I was pleased,'' manager Bob Boone
said, while trying to fish a broken cork out of his postgame bottle
of Merlot. ``He made some adjustments and threw strikes and kept
the ball down. I think he's even better than that.''

Dempster gave up nine hits and four runs in seven innings,
escaping further trouble with the help of several nice defensive

``It's huge,'' Dempster said. ``It felt like forever since I'd
won a game.''

The Reds hit four homers in all -- Brandon Larson and Adam Dunn
connected off the Dodgers' bullpen -- as they scored 12 runs for
only the third time this season.

The Dodgers led the NL West by 2½ games at the All-Star break,
but have gone into a 5-13 nosedive that has dropped them into a
second-place tie with San Francisco, five games behind Arizona. The
slide has coincided with Ishii's swoon.

Ishii, who pitched for 10 years in Japan, won his first six
starts for the Dodgers and was 10-1 on June 8. Since then, he's
gone 2-6 in nine starts with a 4.96 ERA.

By most measures, this one was his worst. He threw only 35
strikes out of 72 pitches.

``I hope I can figure out what's wrong and try to correct it by
the next start,'' Ishii said through a translator. ``Getting that
first strike is very important, and I want to make a conscious
effort to get first strikes in my next start.''

Ken Griffey Jr. had a two-run single in the first and LaRue led
off the second with his sixth homer. Ishii didn't make it out of a
slapstick third, when the Reds scored five runs with the help of
three walks, a passed ball and an error.

Todd Walker had an RBI single and LaRue walked. After Dempster's
sacrifice, Walker scored on Lo Duca's passed ball. The catcher
compounded his mistake by lobbing the ball over Ishii's head as he
covered home on the play, allowing LaRue to score as well. Boone's
two-run homer ended Ishii's outing.

Larson hit a two-run homer in the fourth off Victor Alvarez,
making his major league debut. Dunn led off the sixth with his 22nd
homer off Giovanni Carrara.

Right-hander Paul Shuey, obtained from Cleveland in a trade
Sunday, started the eighth, gave up Austin Kearns' RBI double, and
left with the bases loaded and two outs. Closer Eric Gagne struck
out LaRue to end the inning.

Game notes
RHP Kevin Brown threw 90 pitches in the bullpen at Dodger
Stadium on Tuesday without problem. Brown will throw in the bullpen
again Thursday, then start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Las
Vegas. Brown, 37, had surgery on a disc in his lower back. ... RHP
Darren Dreifort had arthroscopic surgery to remove torn cartilage
from his right knee. ... Dempster has given up 20 runs in 19
innings with the Reds. ... The Reds' season high is 14 runs.