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Aurilia three-run homer leads Reds

CINCINNATI (AP) -- For the Pittsburgh Pirates, it was a day like
nearly every other one this season.

Bad start. Nice comeback. Same empty ending.

Rich Aurilia hit a three-run homer, and the surging Cincinnati
Reds took advantage of an inning full of Pirates slapstick and held
on for an 11-9 victory Saturday, extending Pittsburgh's worst start
in 32 years.

"It was not my day," said left-hander Oliver Perez (0-1), who
put the Pirates behind in the first inning and set them on course
for their latest loss. "I'll try to forget this game."

So far, the Pirates' season is one bad memory.

Pittsburgh is 0-6 for the first time since 1974. The franchise
record for season-opening futility is an 0-8 mark in 1955.

The Pirates and the Phillies are the last winless teams in the
majors -- Philadelphia remained 0-4 after its game was rained out
Saturday. Pittsburgh already trails Milwaukee by 5½ games in the NL
Central.

The Pirates scored three times in the ninth to make it closer,
with Freddy Sanchez sparking the rally with a two-run single. Rick
White got Jose Castillo to ground out with Sanchez on second base
to finish it off and get his first save since June 23.

All three games against Cincinnati have followed the same
pattern.

"Each and every time we creep back into the game, it's followed
by additional runs on the other side of the field," manager Jim
Tracy lamented. "You're trying to get back into the game three and
four times a day, and that's tough to do."

Since opening the season with an embarrassing 16-7 loss to the
Cubs after President Bush's first pitch, Cincinnati has won four in
a row. The Reds have scored 39 runs in their five games, more than
enough to win even a smidgen of good pitching.

"With the offense we have, all you have to worry about is
(making) your pitches," said Aaron Harang (1-1), who rebounded
from his rough opening day start. "We know the offense is going to
score."

Aurilia broke an 0-for-12 slump with a three-run homer in the
second off Perez, who had a rare off game against Cincinnati. The
left-hander had fanned at least 10 batters in five of his 12 career
starts against the Reds, but never looked comfortable in this one.

Ken Griffey Jr. drew a bases-loaded walk from Perez in the
decisive fourth inning for the 1,540th RBI of his career, tying
Pittsburgh's Willie Stargell for 30th on the career list, which
includes games since 1920.

Griffey's four-pitch walk was part of a slapstick inning that
ultimately was the Pirates' downfall. Austin Kearns led off with
his first homer, and the Pirates kept it going with a series of
gaffes.

Perez dropped Harang's soft comeback grounder for an error, and
the Reds scored on Griffey's walk, a passed ball and a wild pitch,
making it 8-3 and setting the Pirates on course for another loss.

"Everybody knows it's how you finish, not how you start," said
Perez, who gave up eight runs in 3 1-3 innings. "We're not winning
now, so we're going to forget this game. We know we can start
winning games. It's part of baseball. This happens to the good
teams."

Harang matched his career high with 10 strikeouts in 6 2-3
innings, fanning Jeromy Burnitz three times. Castillo had three of
the Pirates' eight hits off Harang, including a two-run homer and
an RBI single.

The top of the Reds' order had a solid game. Ryan Freel singled
three times, walked, stole two bases and scored three runs, while
Felipe Lopez singled twice, walked and scored twice. Kearns,
batting seventh, had a single, a double and a homer.

The Reds' biggest shortcoming so far has been a bullpen that
gave up eight runs in the last two games.

"Every run we score is big," manager Jerry Narron said. "We
knew we had a chance to score a lot of runs. It's a matter of
shutting people down."

Game notes
Adam Dunn had a sacrifice fly off Perez. Dunn went 1,085
plate appearances from July 22, 2003 to June 29, 2005 without a
sacrifice fly. He has two in five games this season. ... Pirates CF
Chris Duffy ended an 0-for-15 slump with a double in the seventh.
... Reds starters have gone 25 1-3 innings without walking a
batter, a streak that started with Harang's third walk on opening
day. ... It was the fifth time in his career that Harang struck out
10 in a game. ... Twenty homers have been hit in five games at
Great American Ball Park, where 246 flew out last season, the most
in the majors. ... After the game, the Reds optioned OF Chris
Denorfia to Triple-A Louisville to open a roster spot for INF
Brandon Phillips, acquired from Cleveland in a trade on Friday.