Haynes hitting performance my be last memory for Cinergy Field
7CINCINNATI -- The final memory from Cinergy Field might be: Jimmy Haynes hitting.
The right-hander singled twice, driving in three runs, and pitched eight innings Thursday afternoon as the Cincinnati Reds beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-0 in their final game before the players' strike deadline.
If the rest of the season is wiped out, the game will go down as the last one played at a stadium that was the setting for so many historic moments -- Pete Rose bowling over Ray Fosse, Hank Aaron's 714th homer, Rose's record-setting hit No. 4,192.
Haynes provided the latest -- and possibly the last -- highlight, though it never crossed his mind. Cinergy Field is scheduled to be torn down after the season to make room for a new ballpark.
''I just wanted to make pitches and win the ballgame,'' Haynes said. ''I try not to do too much thinking out there.''
The circumstances were tough to ignore.
There were several strike-related banners in the crowd of 20,503, including one in the outfield that read, ''We'll Still Come.'' A young girl held up a sign that said, ''Strikes Make Little Girls Cry.''
Several other banners deemed derogatory were confiscated at the gates.
There was one concession to the possibility that it was the final game at the stadium. Ushers punched holes in fans' tickets instead of tearing them, leaving them intact as a souvenir.
As the Reds lined up for high-fives after Ken Griffey Jr. made an off-balance catch for the final out, there was little enthusiasm. Shortstop Barry Larkin, a Cincinnati native who joined the Reds in 1986, looked into the stands as he walked off the field.
''It was weird after the game,'' Larkin said. ''Jimmy Haynes pitches a great game, we win, and normally, we're running off the field and coming in here and doing our little dance.
''Today, I was kind of looking up in the stands. The people were up there clapping and everything, but it was a little different. Now, it might be over and we'll have to do something else.''
Haynes (13-8) was an unlikely star -- he hadn't won since Aug. 3 and had never won 13 games in a season during his career with Baltimore, Oakland and Milwaukee.
He gave up seven hits in eight innings and struck out a season-high seven before leaving for a pinch-hitter.
The Cardinals helped Haynes by hitting into three double plays and bumbling in the field, setting him up to be the offensive star as well.
Right-hander Woody Williams (6-4) returned from the disabled list and had his worst showing in a year. Williams, sidelined since July 6 with a strained muscle in his side, gave up five runs in four innings.
In his last 19 starts, the right-hander had not allowed more than three earned runs in a game.
''It just wasn't our day,'' Williams said. ''No matter what's going on in the big picture, in the small picture, we have to be better than we were today.''
Williams hit Aaron Boone, gave up a single to Sean Casey and walked Kelly Stinnett to load the bases with two outs in the second and the game scoreless.
Haynes singled through the hole at second -- the ball took a flat final bounce and deflected under Fernando Vina's glove -- to drive in two runs. Todd Walker followed with an RBI single, and Barry Larkin doubled home two more for a 5-0 lead.
Haynes also had an RBI single in the fifth, becoming the first Reds pitcher to drive in three runs in a game since Mike Remlinger knocked in three on Aug. 15, 1997, in Los Angeles.
Fans booed when manager Bob Boone sent up Russell Branyan to pinch-hit for Haynes in the bottom of the eighth instead of letting him try for his second career shutout. Haynes had thrown 118 pitches.
They booed again when Branyan struck out.
''He wasn't going past 125 pitches,'' Boone said. ''They would've really been booing if I had gone out there with two outs and he still had a shutout going.''
Williams gave up eight hits and needed 88 pitches to get through four innings. His return brought the NL Central leaders closer to full-strength in their rotation -- Garrett Stephenson came off the disabled list Wednesday night and started for the first time in three months.
After the game, the Cardinals got right-hander Jamey Wright in a trade with Milwaukee.
The teams split their four-game series, a major disappointment to the third-place Reds. Cincinnati came away 7 1/2 games back and one game under .500.
The Reds are scheduled to play Milwaukee at Cinergy over the weekend. The Cardinals flew to Chicago, where they were scheduled to play the Cubs on Friday afternoon.
It's the Cardinals' first trip to Chicago since Darryl Kile died in a hotel there in June. St. Louis has overcome the deaths of Kile and broadcaster Jack Buck and a series of injuries as they've held onto first place.
Now, they had to worry about a strike.
''It will be disappointing if we don't play,'' said reliever Steve Kline, the union representative. ''Darryl would be right there with us, walking in our steps, too.''
Notes: The Cardinals optioned RHP Jason Simontacchi to Triple-A Memphis to open a roster spot for Williams. … In the middle of the fifth inning, the countdown board was changed to reflect 13 games left at Cinergy. The last scheduled series is Sept. 20-22 against Philadelphia … Haynes is the Reds' best-hitting pitcher. He went 2-for-3, raising his average to .196. He has 10 hits this season -- the same as backup infielder Juan Castro -- and six RBIs, one more than Castro. The Associated Press
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