Reds get watered-down win over Braves

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 23, 2004

CINCINNATI - Jaret Wright wished it would have never stopped raining.

The rain let up just long enough Thursday for the right-hander to have a costly meltdown. He never got a grip on the strike zone, setting the Cincinnati Reds up for a shortened 5-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

''I didn't even give them a chance to beat me,'' said Wright (1-1), who failed to make it out of a five-run second inning. ''With the walks, I was beating myself.''

Email newsletter signup

There was some question whether the game would last long enough for anyone to get beat.

The start was delayed an hour by rain, which let up for the first three innings. As soon as Wright was gone, it got heavier.

Wright didn't even last as long as the first delay. He was gone after only 43 minutes after nine of 13 batters he faced reached base. The right-hander gave up four singles and walked five in 1 2-3 innings, throwing only 23 strikes out of 53 pitches.

''He was just off,'' Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

By the fourth inning, Cory Lidle (2-1) was trying to get quick outs so the Reds could get in one more inning and make it official.

''The way it was coming down early on, there was a question whether we were going to get in five innings,'' Reds manager Dave Miley said. ''It could have gone either way, and it went our way.''

A downpour forced the umpires to halt the game with two outs and two on in the bottom of the fifth. By that time, the infield was a muddy mess and parts of the warning track were submerged.

Nobody disagreed with crew chief Tim McClelland's decision to call it an hour and 47 minutes later with rain still coming down.

''You hate to lose in 4 1-2 innings when you're only down two runs, but it was just raining too hard to continue to play,'' Cox said.

Cincinnati sent 10 batters to the plate for its five runs in the second, the biggest inning against Atlanta this season. Two of the runs scored on a passed ball by Johnny Estrada and a bases-loaded walk to D'Angelo Jimenez, who was in an 0-for-22 slump at the time.

Slumping Ken Griffey Jr. had a bases-loaded single for two runs, and Sean Casey singled home another to end Wright's outing.

Lidle pitched through the rain, changing his shirt at one point because it was so drenched. He gave up three runs in the fourth, when the rain intensified and he started pitching fast to try to get the game in.

Adam LaRoche had an RBI double with two outs, and Estrada doubled home two more.

''The best thing you can do is keep a good attitude about it,'' Lidle said. ''In the fourth, it was coming down a little harder. I should have had them fix the mound, but I was rushing.''

The Braves dropped two of three in a series that started their longest trip of the season - 12 games in 13 days in Cincinnati, Florida, San Francisco and Colorado.

The Reds toweled off and headed on their longest trip of the season - 10 games in 11 days in Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Houston.

Wright, whose career has been undercut by persistent shoulder problems, put the Braves behind by consistently missing the strike zone. He set the tone by walking three of the first five batters, missing on 18 of his first 25 pitches.

When he did throw a strike, it got hit. Griffey's two-run single to right was the key hit in the five-run rally.

Griffey, who had ankle and shoulder surgery last year, is in a 7-for-39 slump that had dropped his average to .245. He has three homers and nine RBIs.

Notes: The Braves threw out their first runner of the season in the first inning, when Estrada nailed Jimenez trying to steal second base. Runners had been 11-for-11 in steal attempts, with nine of them off Estrada. … Braves OF J.D. Drew went 2-for-8 in the series, which marked his return after missing five games with a strained hamstring. … 2B Marcus Giles singled in two at-bats, raising his average to .373. … Casey is 8-for-14 with runners in scoring position this season. The rest of the team is 18-for-106 (.170). … Casey was 1-for-3, leaving his average at .418. … Jimenez struck out in his last plate appearance, extending his slump to 0-for-23.