Indians defense helps rookie pitcher beat Reds, 3-1

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 30, 2003

CLEVELAND - Jason Davis gave himself an early jolt before getting a bigger boost from his defensive-minded teammates.

Davis pitched into the eighth inning as the Cleveland Indians beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-1 on Sunday to take two of three in the intrastate series.

''I had a good split-finger pitch early and that really gave me confidence,'' Davis said. ''Sometimes it takes a few innings, but I was excited to have it right from the start.''

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The rookie right-hander struck out the side in the first inning. He then watched a sensational catch by center fielder Milton Bradley that robbed Adam Dunn of an extra-base hit in the eighth.

''Gosh, that was the best catch I've ever seen in my life,'' said Davis (7-6), who allowed one run and five hits in 7 2-3 innings. ''My heart was pounding like crazy after that one.''

Two errors by the Reds led to their seventh loss in nine games.

''Defense was the difference,'' said Dunn, whose 23rd homer in the sixth pulled Cincinnati within 3-1.

In the eighth, Dunn hit a two-out shot to deep center. Bradley turned and raced toward the wall, making a back-to-the-plate, leaping grab just as he crashed into the padded barrier.

''I thought it was at least a double for sure,'' Dunn said.

Bradley thought otherwise.

''I knew it would stay in the park and it was up to me to go get it,'' Bradley said. ''I saw it all the way, at least until it got to my glove. Then I didn't see it. I stuck out my glove and there it was. Sweet.''

Cleveland won for just the third time in nine games. The Reds fell to 2-7 on their 12-game trip, then held a players-only meeting.

''It wasn't a chewing out,'' Dunn said. ''It was just a talk about what's going on. There's always a point in a season where a team scuffles.''

After Bradley's catch, Barry Larkin singled and Davis was replaced by Terry Mulholland. He needed only one pitch to retire Ken Griffey Jr. on a long drive to right caught in front of the wall by a leaping Jody Gerut.

''Milton's catch was tougher,'' Gerut said. ''His was really something.''

Danys Baez hit Carlos Guillen in his right hand with a pitch to start the ninth then got three straight outs for his 18th save.

X-rays on Guillen were negative. He is day-to-day, as is Reds catcher Jason LaRue, who left in the seventh after being hit in the back by Davis' fastball.

The Indians took advantage of five walks by Jimmy Haynes (1-7) and two Reds errors in the first four innings.

Haynes walked three of the first four he faced, but only one run scored - on a throwing error by second baseman Juan Castro.

In the fourth, Haynes walked Ben Broussard, and Ricky Gutierrez followed with a bunt that Haynes fielded, but threw behind Castro covering first for an error.

Broussard scored on an RBI groundout by Victor Martinez. Gutierrez scored on Brandon Phillips' two-out triple over the head of Griffey in center for a 3-0 lead.

''I joked with Brandon that if I had been out there, that ball was in my glove,'' Bradley said. ''I take so much pride in playing defense because of Junior Griffey. Watching him when I was young is one reason I play the game. He's still one of the greatest. You might say my catch later was inspired by him.''

The Reds have the most errors in baseball - 74 in 80 games. It was their 19th game with at least two errors.

Davis struck out the side on 13 pitches in the first and finished with seven strikeouts and two walks.

Haynes allowed three unearned runs and six hits in six innings. He is 1-3 in seven starts since missing six weeks because of injury.

Notes: Cleveland went 6-12 in interleague play. The Reds were 7-5. … Reds SS Rainer Olmedo, who had a career-high four RBIs Saturday, sat out because of illness. … Reds OF Austin Kearns, who ran into the right-field wall Saturday, sat out with a strained left quadriceps. … Bradley went 0-for-4, snapping his streak of reaching base safely at 31 games.