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Washed away: Mets blow lead after delay, fall to Reds

CINCINNATI (AP) -- While thunderstorms pelted the ballpark in the
second inning, the Cincinnati Reds relaxed in their cozy clubhouse
and hoped the rain wouldn't end.

It ended, all right. And so did the best part of the New York Mets' night.

Jason LaRue's two-run double in the eighth inning sparked the
Reds to a 7-4 victory Wednesday night that featured a game-changing
delay, a broken winning streak and a little taste of Hollywood.

"I'm impressed to play the game that we did," LaRue said.

The Reds rallied from a 4-0 deficit after the delay, tying it on
Rich Aurilia's solo homer in the fifth. Scott Hatteberg started the
winning rally with his third hit of the game, a leadoff single in
the eighth off Duaner Sanchez (5-1).

LaRue's after-midnight double into the left-field corner broke
the tie with two outs, and Javier Valentin followed with a
pinch-hit, run-scoring single.

The Mets stockpiled four runs off Aaron Harang before the
2-hour, 23-minute delay in the bottom of the second inning changed
everything. New York wasn't the same afterward, managing only two
hits off a bullpen solidified by trades in the last two weeks.

"The rain delay killed our whole momentum," Mets manager
Willie Randolph said. "It took us out of our rhythm."

Todd Coffey (5-4) pitched out of a threat in the eighth, and
Eddie Guardado got the final three outs to improve to 4-for-4 in
save chances since the Reds got him in a trade with Seattle.

The thunderstorms crimped Steve Trachsel's streak of seven
victories in as many starts. The right-hander couldn't throw
strikes after the delay, which provided fans an unexpected chance
to snap photos of actor Tom Hanks, director Ron Howard and comedian
Dennis Miller.

Trachsel walked three of the first six batters he faced when
play resumed on a soggy field with a mud-caked warning track. He
gave up four hits and a walk in the fourth inning, when Edwin
Encarnacion's pinch-hit, two-run single cut it to 4-3.

Trachsel played catch a few times in the batting cages during
the delay, and decided he felt good enough to give it a try.

"The hardest part was staying focused," he said. "There was
two hours between the start of the inning and the next batter."

The managers walked around the field with crew chief Jerry
Crawford while the grounds crew got it ready after the delay. Given
the 4-0 deficit, Reds manager Jerry Narron wished they weren't
playing anymore.

"When you lose your starter in the second inning, you're not
too crazy about it," Narron said.

Once the Reds saw that the rain delay had knocked Trachsel out
of his rhythm, they sensed it might not turn out so bad after all.

"It surprised all of us, too," said Aurilia, whose solo homer
off Darren Oliver tied it at four. "Trachsel threw pretty well to the
first five hitters, then came back after the delay and didn't have
his command. We took advantage of it."

Unlike Trachsel, Harang didn't return when the rain finally let
up. The right-hander had already thrown 51 pitches, giving up
two-run singles to David Wright and Jose Reyes.

"I really didn't want him to go back out there after a two-hour
delay," Narron said. "If it's September, then probably, but not
in July."

The delay provided fans with some of their best moments on a
long night. They got to snap pictures and chat with Hanks, Howard
and Miller, who are making an unannounced ballparks tour in honor
of Hanks' 50th birthday.

The trio sat in the second row next to the Reds' dugout. When a
boy sitting nearby got a foul ball, Hanks autographed it. He and
Howard were shown on the ballpark video board for a between-inning
"Kiss Cam" spot -- after Howard waved off a smooch, Hanks kissed
the cheek of a woman sitting in the next row.

Game notes
Trachsel threw 21 pitches before the delay, 45 after it.
... The Mets swapped minor league infielders with Kansas City,
sending Jeff Keppinger to the Royals for Ruben Gotay. ... Reyes
went headfirst into bases twice, showing he won't change his style
on the bases. He needed seven stitches for a cut on his hand July
7, when he dived into first base. ... RF Ryan Freel was back in the
Reds' starting lineup for the first time since July 9. He has been
hampered by a sore shoulder. Freel singled in his first at-bat and
was picked off first base by Trachsel. ... Aurilia's homer extended
his hitting streak to 12 games, one shy of his career high.