Reitsma learning how to save games on the job for Reds

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 2, 2003

MILWAUKEE -- Chris Reitsma is still figuring out how to be a closer.

Despite allowing two runs in the ninth inning, Reitsma notched his sixth save as the Cincinnati Reds held on to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-4 Monday.

''It's a learning process,'' said Reitsma, who has blown five save opportunities this year. ''Hopefully, they'll stick with me and won't lose any confidence in me. At least we won. That's the bottom line.''

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Reitsma came on with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth and retired pinch-hitter Brooks Kieschnick on a grounder.

Milwaukee's Brady Clark hit an RBI infield single with two outs in the ninth and Scott Podsednik scored on a throwing error by second baseman D'Angelo Jimenez. Reitsma then got Richie Sexson to fly out to the warning track in right field with a man on to end it.

''Reitsma got the big out with Sexson,'' Cincinnati manager Dave Miley said. ''We really didn't want to see him come to the plate, but there he was.''

Tim Hummel, Ryan Freel and Wily Mo Pena, who had combined for two home runs before Monday's game, each hit a solo homer to back Seth Etherton's strong pitching.

The Reds, who were swept in a four-game series at home last week during Milwaukee's 10-game winning streak, won for the fifth straight time this season at Miller Park.

The Brewers lost for only the second time in 14 games. They had their streak snapped by the Chicago Cubs on Friday before winning the final two games of the weekend series at Wrigley Field.

The Reds induced three double play grounders -- two by Brady Clark and one by Royce Clayton -- in preserving their lead.

''Those were huge. They hit some balls hard, but they went right at somebody,'' Etherton said.

Etherton (2-2) didn't allow a hit until John Vander Wal singled leading off the fifth. Etherton allowed one run and three hits in six innings. He struck out two and walked three.

''It was a battle all day,'' Etherton said. ''It was good to get those early runs. You get five runs behind me and it makes it easier.''

Wayne Franklin (10-11) gave up eight hits, walked one and struck out three in five innings.

''Franklin wasn't exceptionally sharp today,'' Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. ''He got a fastball and a slider up on the two home runs. But we had the tying run up in the eighth and ninth, and all we needed was a couple of timely hits.''

Hummel gave the Reds a 1-0 lead in the second with his first career home run. Freel hit the first pitch of the third for another homer, his third of the season, to start a three-run inning. Doubles by Juan Castro and Russell Branyan produced the third run and Hummel added a run-scoring single to make it 4-0.

The two home runs allowed by Franklin increased his major league-leading total to 33.

''Home runs are part of the game,'' Franklin said. ''When they happen, you just have to move on and think of the next hitter.''

After the Brewers closed to 4-1, Pena hit his first homer of the season off reliever Dave Burba in the sixth to restore the four-run cushion.

Sexson hit an RBI single in the eighth for Milwaukee and then came close to ending it with his deep fly ball in the ninth.

''I knew he hit it decent,'' Miley said, ''but I had a couple of coaches who said, 'He didn't get it, he didn't get it.'''

Notes: 1B Sean Casey left the game in the fifth inning with a sore left groin. He is day to day. … Sexson is the only Brewer to have played in all 137 games this season. In his first two full seasons in Milwaukee, he played in 158 games (2001) and 157 (2002). … The Reds have used 53 players this season. The major league record is 59 by the Indians and Padres, both last season. Ten Reds have made their major league debuts this season, not including C Dane Sardinha, whose contract was purchased from Double-A Chattanooga on Monday.