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Harang good for seven; Griffey could start Friday

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- By the time Sean Casey got his 1,000th
career hit, the Cincinnati Reds were just rubbing it in.

Aaron Harang pitched seven innings of four-hit ball, and Casey went 4-for-5 with four RBI in the Reds' 12-3 victory over the
slumping San Francisco Giants on Thursday.

Adam Dunn's three-run homer capped the Reds' 10-run rally in the
eighth inning against San Francisco's miserable bullpen. Casey
drove in three runs with two singles in the eighth -- including a
two-run single that was his 1,000th hit.

"You never think you'll get that many hits, and when you have a
good game and the team wins, it makes it that much more sweet,"
said Casey, who went 7-for-14 with five RBI in the three-game
series.

Casey also had two doubles, including a drive off the
right-field wall to score Felipe Lopez in the sixth. That gave
Cincinnati a 2-1 lead, but the margin quickly ballooned in the
Reds' biggest inning since they scored 12 runs in the sixth on Aug.
7, 1998, against Milwaukee.

The rally might do wonders for the Reds' confidence, which was
shaken while losing 11 of 12 before consecutive victories in San
Francisco. Dunn, who hit his third homer in two days, and Casey
sparked the wins with impressive production in the middle of
Cincinnati's order.

"He's getting in that groove right now," Harang said of Casey.
"It's just a fun time to sit there and watch him hit. It seems
like he's better with two strikes than 0-0."

Harang (7-3) was outstanding in his third victory in five
starts, allowing just two runners to reach second base. With Barry
Bonds taking a regular day off, the Giants had no pop against
Harang's assortment of off-speed pitches.

Deivi Cruz homered for the Giants, who have lost six of eight
during a precarious drop in the NL West standings. San Francisco is
9-12 since the All-Star break, showing no signs of a second-half
surge for one of baseball's best late-season teams over the last
five years.

"It's one of those funks," said right-hander Matt Herges, who
allowed three unearned runs in the eighth. "Not everyone is
playing as poor as I am. It's a brief funk. There should be no
panic."

Kirk Rueter (6-9) allowed six hits and couldn't get through the
sixth inning in his third loss in five starts. Casey improved to
.478 (11-for-23) in his career against Rueter.

Four relievers couldn't stop Cincinnati's rally in the eighth.
Rookie Merkin Valdez struck out pinch-hitter Ken Griffey Jr. with
the bases loaded, then walked two batters to force in runs before
Casey and Dunn got their big hits.

San Francisco fans booed left-hander Scott Eyre after the
struggling reliever allowed three straight hits -- but Cincinnati
added seven more runs with Valdez on the mound while sending 13
batters to the plate.

"I'm just leaving all my pitches over the middle of the plate,
and they're hitting them as major league hitters are supposed to,"
Eyre said. "We're only two games out of the wild card. We win the
wild card, and we just roll on through."

Cruz hit his fourth homer of the season in the second, but
Harang was otherwise outstanding. He retired the next nine batters
after Cruz's homer.

Griffey returned from a hamstring injury Wednesday night before
leaving in the fifth inning with stiffness. Manager Dave Miley said
Griffey wouldn't have started Thursday's game even if his leg
hadn't stiffened up Wednesday in the San Francisco chill.

"It was just fun to be out there and do something," Griffey
said. "I'm just trying to keep it as warm as possible."

Game notes
Valdez, a highly touted right-hander who made his major
league debut last weekend, had a tough start to his career: The
first two batters he faced were St. Louis' Albert Pujols and Scott
Rolen, followed by Griffey. ... Griffey and Barry Larkin are
expected to return to Cincinnati's lineup Friday in the opener of a
three-game series in Colorado. Larkin has been out with a strained
oblique muscle. ... After the game, the Giants still hadn't settled
on a starter for Friday night's game against the Chicago Cubs.