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Freel sets up winning run with two steals after walk

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Ryan Freel stole a game from the Los Angeles
Dodgers.

Freel set a franchise record with five stolen bases, and Ken
Griffey Jr. homered and drove in two runs to lead the Cincinnati
Reds to a 7-6 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday
night.

"Ryan Freel -- do I need to say anything else? Is that enough?"
Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "When he's in the ballgame and
he's leading off for us, as you all saw tonight, it's definitely a
different dimension. Five stolen bases. It's huge for us when he's
in the lineup and is able to get on base."

Shortstop Felipe Lopez, whose error led to three unearned runs
in the first inning, also had two RBI including a go-ahead
sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Freel stole second on a pitchout and swiped third on the next
pitch to set up the winning run, after he was walked with one out
in the ninth by Yhency Brazoban (2-6). Lopez drove him in with a
fly to center and the Reds improved their dismal road record to
12-33.

"I've thought all along that we haven't played really well on
the road because we're not able to manufacture runs at times,"
Narron said. "But that right there in the ninth inning was the
ultimate -- base on balls, two stolen bases and a sac fly. I mean,
that's as manufactured as you can possibly do it."

Only seven other times had a Reds player stolen as many as four
bases. The last one to do it was Deion Sanders in 1997 against
Atlanta.

"Considering how long this team's been around, I never thought
that would be the record -- especially when they've had guys like
Joe Morgan and Deion," said Freel, who led the team last year with
37 steals. "I was able to capitalize on slower deliveries tonight
and was able to get good jumps and steal at good times."

Freel is 28-for-34 this season in steal attempts, and made it
all five times he tried Wednesday. Dodgers catcher Jason Phillips
has thrown out 12 of 82 baserunners, after going 19-for-61 last
year with the New York Mets.

"Jason is a good catcher, but I didn't steal off of him,"
Freel said. "You don't steal off the catcher, you steal off the
pitcher. (Jeff) Weaver was pretty long in his delivery, the same
with Brazoban. So you've just got to take advantage, be smart and
make sure you don't run into an out."

Phillips was a lot harder on himself than Freel was.

"It comes down to me. It's reflected on me," Phillips said.
"I've been working on the exchange from glove to hand and getting
the feel of a good throw, which has been tough. It's something I
have to improve on. I've just got to get better. If the pitcher
isn't conducive to stopping the running game, then I've got to make
up the difference and stop them somehow."

Reliever Jason Standridge (2-0) pitched 1 1-3 innings for the
victory and David Weathers got three outs for his sixth save.

Cincinnati turned a 4-1 deficit into a 6-4 lead, chasing Weaver
during a four-run seventh. But for the second straight night, Reds
reliever Matt Belisle blew a lead in the seventh.

Belisle gave up one-out singles to pinch-hitter Hee-Seop Choi
and Cesar Izturis. They advanced on a sacrifice and scored when
Milton Bradley lined a single to center to tie it at 6-all.

Griffey started the Reds' comeback in the sixth with his 23rd
homer, a solo shot that raised his career total to 524.

Austin Kearns led off the Reds' seventh with a single and
pinch-hitter Jacob Cruz tied it at 4 with a two-run homer to
center. It was Cruz's fourth pinch homer in his career and third
this season. He had been hitless in 10 career at-bats against
Weaver.

"Without that home run, we wouldn't have been in a position to
win the ballgame," Narron said. "Cruzer was 0-for-10 against
Weaver, so I made sure to ask him if he was going to give us a good
at-bat. And he said he was."

Freel followed with a single, stole second and scored the
go-ahead run on a ground-rule double in the left field corner by
Lopez. Wilson Alvarez relieved Weaver and gave up an RBI single by
Griffey that made it 6-4.

Jeff Kent had an RBI double in the first and Olmedo Saenz
followed with his 10th home run. It was the fourth time in five
starts that Ramon Ortiz failed to escape the opening inning
unscathed.

Game notes
This was the 15th time the Reds have erased a deficit of
three or more runs to win, the most in the majors. ... Griffey is
2-for-15 lifetime against Weaver. Both hits were homers. ...
Dodgers LF Jayson Werth sat out because of a sore left knee. He was
examined by Dr. Frank Jobe and had a small amount of fluid drained.