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Dunn's 40th homer puts Reds back on winning track

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Javier Valentin doesn't get many starts, so he
tries not to waste them.

The Cincinnati catcher, starting for the first time in three
weeks, homered in consecutive at-bats Friday night and Adam Dunn
added his 40th of the season to send the Reds to a 9-1 victory over
the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"I went a couple of weeks between starts, but it's been that
way all year," said Valentin, stuck in a three-man catching
situation with Dan Ross and Jason LaRue. "Tonight was my night."

Kyle Lohse pitched seven strong innings and Ryan Freel hit a
leadoff homer for the Reds, who had lost four of five and began the
day 4½ games behind NL wild-card leader San Diego.

Dunn became the second player in Reds history to hit at least 40
home runs in three consecutive seasons. Ted Kluszewski (1953-1955)
was the first.

Valentin snapped a 1-1 tie with his seventh homer of the season,
an opposite-field shot to left leading off the fourth inning. He
followed in the sixth with a two-run line drive into the visitors'
bullpen down the right-field line.

"He's probably been hurt more by having three catchers than
anybody," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "We haven't been able
to find matchups that are favorable for him. Tonight, we were able
to."

Valentin's home runs off Pirates starter Ian Snell were his
first since his last start, against Pittsburgh on Aug. 18 in a 7-3
Pirates win. Snell also was the Pittsburgh starter in that game,
but reliever Britt Reames allowed Valentin's homer.

Lohse (2-2) snapped his two-game skid. He allowed seven hits and
one run with one walk and six strikeouts.

"My sinker or two-seamer or whatever you want to call it was
working," Lohse said. "I was able to come in on them and run it
up the ladder on them. It was one of those nights where I was able
to put the ball where I wanted to and change speeds."

Snell (12-10) has lost his last two starts after logging three
wins and a no-decision in his previous four. He allowed seven hits
and four runs with three walks and five strikeouts in six innings.
He has allowed a team-high 28 home runs in 29 starts.

"I feel like I'm home run prone," Snell said. "I feel like
I'm brainwashed. I'm processing too much information for my first
[full] year. There's a lot of stuff in my brain that I feel like I
need to get washed away."

The nine runs were the most for the Reds in 15 games since they
beat Houston 14-0 on Aug. 22.

"He didn't have late life on his pitches," Pirates manager Jim
Tracy said about Snell. "He was getting the ball up. You could
tell by the fly balls."

National League batting leader Freddy Sanchez (.341) went
0-for-4 for the Pirates, who had won three of their last four
games.

Freel led off the first inning with his eighth home run. Ryan
Doumit tied it with a solo homer in the second, his third of the
season -- all since he was activated from the disabled list on Aug.
23 after missing almost three months with a torn left hamstring.

Dunn hit a two-run homer and Scott Hatteberg added a two-run
single as the Reds sent 10 batters to the plate against three
Pittsburgh relievers in a five-run seventh inning.

The Reds had at least one baserunner in every inning against
Snell, while the Pirates had at least one baserunner in every
inning except the third against Lohse.

Game notes
Freel's leadoff homer was his third this season and the
fourth of his career. The homer was his first in 156 at-bats dating
to July 22, when he hit two in an 8-7 win over Milwaukee. ...
Hatteberg extended his career-high streak of errorless games to 91,
the longest for a major league first baseman this season. ...
Pittsburgh's Carlos Maldonado singled in the ninth inning for his
first major league hit.