Final

Reds 4

(16-11, 9-6 away)

Indians 9

(18-8, 9-4 home)

    1:05 PM ET, March 26, 2006

    Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida 

    123456789 R H E
    CIN 000301000 4 - -
    CLE 13200030 - 9 - -

    Cleveland 9, Cincinnati 4

    WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) -- Danny Graves has a new look and a totally different outlook.

    With a mop of highlighted hair tumbling to the top of his shoulders, Graves struggled through his one inning Sunday during the Cleveland Indians' 9-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, the team that cast him aside last season.

    It was the first shaky appearance this spring for Graves, who is competing with Steve Karsay for a spot in the Indians' bullpen.

    "I've pitched well enough that if, unfortunately, I don't make the team here, I'll have a chance somewhere else," Graves said. "My performance has been the best I've had in any spring."

    Graves' career bottomed out on an ugly afternoon in Cincinnati last May, when he got jeered after another poor performance and made an obscene hand gesture to one unrelenting fan.

    The Reds cut their ties with him a day later, citing his 7.36 ERA. The Mets gave him another chance, but he had a 5.75 ERA in 20 appearances and was released. Finally, the Indians offered him a minor league contract in December, a chance to resurrect his career with the organization that drafted him.

    He has grown his hair, added tattoos and gotten the bite back on his sinker, his most indispensable pitch.

    "I feel like I'm back to normal, more mentally than anything," Graves said. "I feel more like a baseball player again. All I wanted was the opportunity to play again. This was the perfect spot. So far, everything is working out well."

    Heading into Sunday's game, Graves had allowed only three earned runs in 11 2-3 innings, forcing the Indians to give a lot of thought to one of their final roster decisions. Karsay has been inconsistent, giving up eight earned runs in 13 innings.

    Karsay allowed a pair of hits in a scoreless third inning Sunday. Graves followed and retired the first two batters on six pitches. Then the inning went bad. Austin Kearns hit a wind-blown homer to right, the first of four consecutive hits that accounted for three runs.

    Afterward, manager Eric Wedge said Graves pitched better than the numbers showed.

    "He was down in the strike zone today and threw a couple good sinkers and a couple good breaking balls," Wedge said. "The end result wasn't an indication of how he pitched. For whatever reason, the ball is really flying out of right field here this year.

    "We're in an important part of spring training when it comes to that competition. Every day is important, not just this one. It's still very close."

    The Indians scored six runs off left-hander Brandon Claussen, who lasted four innings. Grady Sizemore had a two-run double, and Travis Hafner hit a wind-blown homer to right. Sizemore later drove in another run with his fifth triple of the spring.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

    SPONSORED HEADLINES