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Griffey's long HR wasted in Reds' loss

9/19/2002

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- With a team-leading 113 strikeouts, Rob Mackowiak may not have seemed like the ideal hitter to bat with an 0-2 count and the game on the line for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

But Mackowiak delivered a two-run pinch hit single, capping Pittsburgh's three-run rally in the eighth as the Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 on Wednesday night.

"That was an outstanding at-bat,'' manager Lloyd McClendon said. "That was a pretty darn good pitcher who threw a split that ran away from him. He went down and got it.''

The hit came off Scott Williamson, who was within a strike of
escaping the jam.

"I threw a good pitch and he hit it,'' Williamson said. "You
tip your hat to him for that.''

The Pirates overcame homers by Ken Griffey Jr. and Jose Guillen.

John Riedling (2-3) opened the eighth by hitting Jason Kendall.
Brian Giles singled and, after Aramis Ramirez struck out, Kevin
Young walked to load the bases.

Williamson came in and walked Craig Wilson on a 3-2 pitch to
force in a run. Adrian Brown grounded to second and forced Giles at
the plate on a play that injured Reds catcher Jason LaRue. Giles'
left leg slammed into LaRue's lower right leg on the slide and
LaRue left the game.

"I just made some stupid pitches,'' Riedling said.

Mackowiak lined to center to give the Pirates the lead and make
him 7-for-23 as a pinch hitter.

The aggressiveness that has caused him to pile up strikeouts may
help him as a pinch hitter.

"When you come off the bench, you're facing closers who are
going to come right after you,'' McClendon said. "That plays into
his hands in a lot of situations.''

Mike Lincoln (2-4) pitched the eighth and Mike Williams worked
the ninth for his 43rd save in 46 chances.

Griffey started for the first time in three weeks and hit a
442-foot solo home run for the Reds.

"It's all in his legs,'' Reds manager Bob Boone said. "When he
has that spring in his legs, he has the swing to do that.''

Griffey spent two stretches on the disabled list this year with
knee and hamstring injuries.

Griffey had not been in the starting lineup since Aug. 29,
missing 17 starts because of a sore left hip. He had not played in
the field until he spent the last two innings of Monday's game in
center after a pinch-hitting appearance.

He said he's still feeling his way at the plate.

"I'm just grabbing right now,'' Griffey said. "I'm just trying
to be short and quick.''

It was his eighth homer of the season and his first since Aug.
23 at Houston. Griffey entered the game on a 3-for-28 skid.

He singled in his first appearance and homered on Josh Fogg's
first pitch in the fourth. His homer cleared the right field
stands, bounced off the riverwalk outside the park and into the
Allegheny River.

Griffey also made a spectacular catch to rob Craig Wilson of an
extra-base hit to open the seventh inning. He sped back and leaped
against the fence in center, fully extending his arm to grab the
line drive.

"I just braced myself for the impact as much as I could,'' Griffey said.

The Reds reported LaRue has a contusion of the right calf and is
day-to-day.

Game notes
Reds 2B Todd Walker extended his hitting streak to 14 games. LaRue's streak ended at 13 games, a career high. ... The Reds are 52-31 against teams under .500. ... Griffey's homer was
the seventh to reach the water in two seasons at PNC Park. Only
Houston's Daryle Ward put the ball in the river on the fly. ...
Giles got his 127th walk in the fourth, tying Barry Bonds' 1992
Pirates record for a lefthanded hitter. The overall club record is
held by Ralph Kiner, who walked 137 times in 1951. ... The game was
delayed 58 minutes by rain in the second inning. The Pirates have
had 25 rain delays for 27 hours and one minute. They've had 21
delays at home for 21 hours and one minute. They are 5-12 in
delayed games.