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Padres win costly to Reds playoff bid

The Associated Press

Sanders smiled as he rounded first base after tripling into the right-field corner to drive in three runs, then pumped his right arm as he scored on error.

Wednesday, September 22, 1999

Sanders smiled as he rounded first base after tripling into the right-field corner to drive in three runs, then pumped his right arm as he scored on error. His big hit gave the San Diego Padres a 6-2 win over Cincinnati on Tuesday night, costing the Reds a game in the NL Central race.

”It’s always nice. It’s a great feeling,” said Sanders, who came over from the Reds in the Greg Vaughn deal on Feb. 2. ”We were talking the other day about guys that have been on the opposing team, and when they do something well, how much of a thrill it is, even more.

”But I tell you, that was such a great feeling, it doesn’t matter if it’s Cincinnati or not. It was just great that I was able to get the job done in that opportunity.”

The Reds dropped 3 1/2 games behind division-leading Houston, which won 6-3 at Pittsburgh. In the wild-card race, Cincinnati stayed 3 1/2 games behind the New York Mets, who lost 2-1 at Atlanta.

”You would have liked to win tonight,” said Cincinnati’s Sean Casey, who hit a two-run homer in the third inning. ”We’ve got 10 games to go, including two with Houston. We need to stay within striking distance.”

With the score tied at 2, the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, Sanders came to bat for the second straight time after Tony Gwynn was intentionally walked, and this time he made the Reds pay. Sanders went the opposite way on a 2-0 fastball away from rookie Scott Williamson (11-7), hitting it into the Reds’ bullpen in the right-field corner.

Pokey Reese’s relay throw to third came in on a short hop and Aaron Boone knocked it down, but it rolled into foul territory. Sanders broke for home, brushing Boone aside, and pumped his right arm as he scored.

”I was able to drive the ball to right field with authority and get those three runs in and create little bit of havoc out there,” Sanders said.

Reds manager Jack McKeon, who managed the Padres from 1988-1990, knew that Gwynn likely would put the ball in play. ”You pitch to Reggie, you might get him to chase something but we got behind to me.”

Said Williamson: ”I had to come in with a fastball and he’s too good a hitter.”

Last Wednesday, Williamson left a game against Chicago with a small cut on the middle finger of his pitching hand, and he said the cut bothered him Tuesday night when he threw his fastball.

”My fastball didn’t have the zip and control like normal,” he said.

Sanders had struck out ending the fifth inning with runners on first and third after Gwynn was intentionally walked.

”You may get me the first time, but there’s always a second time,” Sanders said. ”It doesn’t matter how you start, it’s how you finish it.”

Williamson allowed four runs – three earned – and three hits in 1 2-3 innings.

Gwynn extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a first-inning single. Cincinnati’s Eddie Taubensee singled in his first three at-bats before striking out in the eighth, giving him seven straight hits in the first two games of the three-game series.

San Diego starter Matt Clement (10-12) won his fourth straight start thanks to the big seventh inning. He struck out a career-high nine and allowed two runs, seven hits and three walks in seven innings.

Quilvio Veras gave the Padres a 1-0 lead in the first when Taubensee dropped right fielder Dmitri Young’s one-hop throw home after Phil Nevin’s fly ball to shallow right. It was Cincinnati’s second error of the inning.

Sean Casey gave the Reds a 2-1 lead with his 24th homer with one out in the third, but San Diego’s Ruben Rivera tied it with his line shot to left-center leading off the fifth, his 21st.

Notes: Williamson made just his fifth appearance in September. Besides the cut on his finger, he’s been bothered by shoulder tendinitis. … Clement’s previous strikeout high was eight twice, on May 18 against St. Louis and Aug. 25 at Philadelphia. … Barry Larkin, who walked four times on Monday night, struck out three times for just the fourth time in his career. … Clement is the fourth Padres pitcher to win at least 10 games in his rookie season. … Gwynn’s two intentional walks gave him 200 for his career, moving him past Ernie Banks into ninth place on the career list.