Reds bullpen falters in loss to Phillies

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 16, 2004

PHILADELPHIA - Mike Lieberthal gave Philadelphia's offense the lift it needed and the Phillies a first win to remember at their new ballpark.

Lieberthal hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning, rallying the Phillies over the Cincinnati Reds 6-4 Thursday to snap a five-game losing streak.

''It was nice to see us get some runs, even though it was late,'' manager Larry Bowa said. ''Hopefully we can build on this and start a run of our own.''

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Philadelphia's lineup had been quiet all season, scoring only 16 runs in its first seven games with two home runs. While Lieberthal hit one of the homers, he was just 2-for-27 this season.

The Phillies showed few signs of snapping out of their funk against starter Jose Acevedo and trailed 4-2 before breaking through against Cincinnati's bullpen in the eighth.

Phil Norton allowed a single to Placido Polanco and walked Bobby Abreu. Jim Thome then grounded into a forceout, putting runners at the corners.

Ryan Wagner (0-1) gave up a two-strike, bloop RBI single to Pat Burrell, who had struck out swinging his first three times.

Lieberthal connected for a homer to left field on a windy day.

''We just needed to come out with a win, and a comeback win at that, that hopefully can give us momentum going into the next few games,'' Lieberthal said. ''We might stay a little more positive. Maybe it will help our confidence. It's not a cure all. Guys still have to make adjustments at the plate.''

Said Reds manager Dave Miley: ''Lieby's been struggling. He hit it pretty good.''

Rheal Cormier (2-2) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win. Billy Wagner worked the ninth for his second save.

Wagner made a fast impression on the Phillies' fans in his first home game. Wagner entered to Metallica's ''Enter Sandman,'' then reached 100 mph on one pitch, prompting a huge ovation.

''I finally get the chance to pitch in front of the home crowd, so there's a little pressure,'' Wagner said. ''I wasn't too caught up in blowing the game. I was more worried about getting that first guy out.''

Philadelphia lost the opener in its new ballpark Monday. After an off-day Tuesday, the Phillies and Reds were rained out.

The Phillies had been held in check by Acevedo, who struck out eight in 6 1-3 innings before getting knocked out on a line drive off his hand and a homer.

''We really looked bad today at the plate early on,'' Lieberthal said. ''It looked ugly. We got a lot of boos - deserving.''

The Reds led 1-0 against Vicente Padilla when they scored three times in the fourth inning.

Padilla walked Austin Kearns and gave up a single to Sean Casey. After an out, Jason LaRue was intentionally walked to load the bases. Juan Castro, playing for Barry Larkin, hit a double to right.

LaRue was thrown out at home, but Castro advanced to third. Castro scored on a wild pitch, bringing out the boo birds.

Padilla allowed a walk to Kearns after getting ahead 1-2, and gave up Casey's single on an 0-2 pitch.

Padilla gave up five hits, walked four and struck out six in five innings.

Acevedo cruised in his first career appearance against the Phillies. He worked out of his only jam in the second inning when he whiffed Padilla to squirm out of a bases-loaded situation.

Marlon Byrd hit a line drive off Acevedo's pitching hand with one out in the seventh. It seemed to shake up Acevedo a bit, as he tossed a few warmup pitches to compose himself. He could have used a few more, allowing a two-run homer to David Bell.

''It affected my grip a little,'' Acevedo said. ''I lost my command a little bit.''

Notes: Larkin did not start because of tenderness in his forearm. … LaRue crashed hard into the padded rail in front of the Phillies' dugout while chasing a foul ball. He stayed in the game. … The Phillies celebrated Jackie Robinson Day by paying tribute to the five living members of the Philadelphia Stars Negro League team. Honored were Harold Gould, Stanley Glenn, Wilmer Harris, Bill Cash and Mahlon Duckett, who shared their remembrances of Robinson. … Bell's home run was his first since June 6, 2003.