Final

Series: Game 2 of 3

Series tied 1-1 (as of 7/31)

Game 1: Friday, July 30
Houston2Final
in 14
Cincinnati3
Game 2: Saturday, July 31
Houston8Final
Cincinnati0
Game 3: Sunday, August 1
Houston7Final
in 10
Cincinnati5

Astros 8

(52-52, 25-25 away)

Reds 0

(51-53, 29-22 home)

    1:15 PM ET, July 31, 2004

    Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio 

    123456789 R H E
    HOU 000101006 8 9 0
    CIN 000000000 0 4 1

    W: D. Oliver (3-3)

    L: B. Claussen (1-1)

    LaRue drives in winner after overnight delay

    CINCINNATI (AP) -- The tiny crowd made it feel like a split-squad game. The lack of drama and the latest cloudburst gave everyone a feeling that it was never going to end.

    Two players who had just met on the mound finished off one of the majors' most unusual games.

    Josh Hancock, who wasn't even on the Reds' roster for the game's first pitch, wound up getting the victory Saturday after catcher Jason LaRue doubled in the 13th inning for a 3-2 victory over the Houston Astros.

    LaRue's only hit in six at-bats during the marathon game -- suspended overnight because of rain -- ended an eight-game losing streak that was Cincinnati's longest in a year.

    No one will remember it as fondly as Hancock (1-1), who was acquired late Friday from Philadelphia and didn't arrive until shortly after the game resumed Saturday morning in the top of the sixth with the score tied at 2.

    The right-hander made sure to save a ball from his first big league win.

    "It might be one out of the bottom of the bag, but to me it's a game ball," Hancock said. "It was just crazy. To come into a game like that and come out with a win is lucky."

    The Reds got Hancock in a deal for closer Todd Jones that was completed during the game's third rain delay Friday, just before the umpires suspended play.

    He had never even met LaRue until he came in to warm up for the 13th inning.

    "I met LaRue on the mound and said, 'Fastball, slider, changeup, nice to see you," Hancock said.

    After the right-hander set the side down while giving up a pair of walks, he came to the bench and met his manager for the first time as well.

    "I didn't get a chance to introduce myself to him until after that inning, when he was getting a sip of water," Dave Miley said.

    With introductions out of the way, LaRue took it from there.

    Chad Harville (0-1) set up the long-awaited ending by walking Wily Mo Pena with two outs in the 13th. LaRue then doubled into the gap in left-center, allowing Pena to score easily.

    Both managers used up their bullpens and their benches, even though there was another game to play.

    The Astros got only one hit after the game resumed Saturday, and the Reds managed only one themselves until LaRue's double in the 13th.

    Another cloudburst made exasperated plate umpire Tim Welke wave for the tarp again in the top of the 11th, the game's fourth delay overall. LaRue's double ended it 19 hours, 4 minutes after Aaron Harang opened it Friday night with a fastball for a called strike.

    The umpires suspended the game Friday after the third storm of the night moved in.

    The game resumed at 11:30 a.m. EDT in a surreal setting at Great American Ball Park. Players warmed up on the field in front of empty stands -- the gates didn't open until 15 minutes beforehand.

    Overcast skies and soft music playing on the public address system -- Barry Manilow crooning about rain -- set a sleepy tone. Only a few hundred fans were in the stands, tiny dots scattered among the 40,000 mostly empty seats.

    "It felt like spring training," LaRue said. "(Barry) Larkin said it's like we're at a B game. That was the first time I've played a game that early in the big leagues."

    There wasn't a sound other than the thunk of Morgan Ensberg's bat smacking reliever Ryan Wagner's first pitch foul. A modest cheer went up when Ensberg grounded back to Wagner.

    A meteorological quirk and a soggy single made it necessary.

    Adam Dunn and Felipe Lopez hit solo homers off Pete Munro in-between rain delays on Friday night, putting the Reds up 2-1 after five innings. The Reds could have gotten a shortened win at that point, but the next line of storms held back for a few minutes -- just long enough for the Astros to tie it.

    As heavy rain returned, Bagwell singled to center with two outs in the top of the sixth, trying it at 2.

    Game notes


    Official attendance was 32,691 -- the number of tickets sold for Friday's game. ... Astros starters have a 1.75 ERA over the last seven games, allowing only eight runs. ... SS Adam Everett singled in the fourth inning, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games. ... 2B Jeff Kent is playing while he appeals a three-game suspension Friday for a tantrum over a called strike. ... The Reds' last suspended game was in 1996, an 8-6 win over San Diego that was played over two days because of curfew.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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