Van Poppel, Reds blank Phils

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 21, 2003

PHILADELPHIA - Todd Van Poppel and two relievers combined on a four-hitter, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night.

The Phillies entered with a half-game lead over Florida in the NL wild-card race. The Marlins played in Atlanta.

Van Poppel, a former first-round pick by Oakland in 1990 pitching for his sixth team, allowed four hits in 6 1-3 innings, his longest outing in five years. Van Poppel (1-1) struck out five and walked two.

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Wily Mo Pena had an RBI single and Ryan Freel drove in a run on a fielder's choice grounder for the injury-depleted Reds, the fourth-worst team in the NL.

Phil Norton pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings and Chris Reitsma got three straight outs for his 10th save.

Amaury Telemaco (1-4) gave up two runs - one earned - and six hits in seven innings in his seventh start since replacing Brandon Duckworth in the rotation.

Van Poppel got plenty of defensive help from the worst fielding team in the majors. Freel made a diving catch in center to rob Jimmy Rollins of extra bases with two outs and a runner on first in the second inning. Third baseman Juan Castro started a double play in the sixth with a sensational, backhanded diving catch on a hard grounder down the line by Placido Polanco.

Pena gave the Reds a 1-0 lead in the fourth with a two-out single that drove in Sean Casey, who blooped a double down the left-field line.

Freel's RBI grounder in the seventh made it 2-0. Jason LaRue singled to start the inning and went to third on a bouncer up the middle by Ray Olmedo that skidded past second baseman Chase Utley. LaRue would've been out at third on center fielder Marlon Byrd's throw, but Polanco dropped the ball making the tag and Olmedo went to second.

After Van Poppel grounded out, Freel hit a hard grounder to shortstop. Rollins made a backhanded play, but his throw from his knees was too late to get LaRue.

Van Poppel left after walking two batters in the seventh. Norton came in and retired Rollins on a foul pop and pinch-hitter Jason Michaels on a hard grounder to third.

Notes: Pena has 16 RBIs and 31 hits. … The Reds must win their final seven games to avoid losing 90 games for the 14th time in club history, and just the fourth time since 1949. … A crowd of 35,239 turned out at Veterans Stadium, pushing the Phillies' attendance over 2 million for the first time since 1995. … Van Poppel hadn't pitched past the sixth inning since going 8 1-3 innings for Pittsburgh against Arizona on June 25, 1998.