Graves#039; knee problems OK

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 18, 2003

SARASOTA, Fla. - Danny Graves had no problems with his right knee as he started and went five innings Monday, taking the loss as the Florida Marlins beat the Cincinnati Reds 8-1 in a split-squad game.

Graves, being turned into a starter after spending his major league career as a closer, had to miss his last scheduled start because of an inflamed tendon in his right knee.

He gave up two runs on five hits in the first inning, when Brian Banks and Todd Hollandsworth had RBI singles. Graves allowed only three more hits in the next four innings, showing no problem with the knee.

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''The knee was totally fine,'' said Graves, who has a 6.91 earned run average.

The biggest test came in the third, when Al Martin grounded sharply to first baseman Adam Dunn and the ball deflected back toward the mound as Graves ran to cover first. Graves planted and quickly changed course to try to get to the ball.

''Everybody was screaming for me not to do that,'' Graves said. ''It was just instinct. That was a true test.''

Michael Tejera gave up three hits and a run in the first three innings, and the Reds managed only six hits overall off seven Marlins pitchers. Juan Pierre and Ramon Castro each had three hits, and Banks drove in two runs with a single and a double.

Notes: Reds INF Wily Mo Pena left the game with tightness in his groin. … RHP Paul Wilson, who has a strained muscle in his side, will pitch in a simulated game, then in a minor league game, before appearing with the Reds. Cincinnati is hoping that he's healthy enough to take a spot in the rotation. … Marlins SS Andy Fox grounded into a double play with the bases loaded in the first inning, part of his 0-for-3 game. Fox has been playing with a sore back since he dove for a ball a week ago.