Cincinnati (32-32) at Tampa Bay (22-41)

  • Game info: 7:15 pm EDT Thu Jun 12, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Cincinnati Reds look to sweep their first road series of the season as they face the Tampa Bay Devil in the finale at Tropicana Field.

Cincinnati has swept only one series all season, taking four from St. Louis on May 5-8.

A win would also put the Reds a game above the .500 mark for the first time since May 22, when they were 24-23.

Ryan Dempster will start for Cincinnati as he tries again for his first win since April 8 at Houston. In his first start since going on the disabled list on May 23 with an inflamed nerve in his neck, the right-hander allowed seven hits and seven runs over 5 2-3 innings against Toronto on Saturday. The Reds won the game 9-8, but Dempster did not get a decision.

Cincinnati took the middle game of the series as backup catcher Kelly Stinnett hit a grand slam, and Aaron Boone snapped a ninth-inning tie with an RBI single in Wednesday night’s 7-6 victory.

Reds manager Bob Boone shrugged off the fact that the Reds blew a 6-0 lead.

“This is a normal. I don’t even get nervous anymore,” Boone said. “We play them like this every day. This is nothing new for us.”

It was the 17th time the Reds have won a game in their last at-bat.

“We’re kind of good at making it interesting. Never too big a lead, never too small a lead. But we’re good when it’s close,” Aaron Boone said. “For the most part, we’ve done a good job of finding ways to win.”

The loss was a season-high sixth straight for Tampa Bay, which had a two-run single from rookie standout Rocco Baldelli and a two-run double by Aubrey Huff. The Devil Rays lost in their major league-leading 38th one-run game this season, falling to 17-21 in such games.

“It seems like we play just good enough to lose by one run. We can’t push across that one to win the game,” Huff said. “They score two runs, we’ll score one. They score eight, we score seven. It’s the same old song and dance.”

Tampa Bay, which is 1-7 since starting a stretch of 12 straight interleague games, has dropped 15 of its last 19 overall.

STANDINGS: Reds - 4th place, 5 GB, NL Central. Devil Rays - 5th place, 14 GB, AL East.

REDS PROBABLE STARTER: Dempster (1-4, 7.96 ERA). The veteran right-hander is 2-4 with a 5.35 ERA in six career starts against the Devil Rays.

DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Jeremi Gonzalez (2-1, 3.41 ERA). The veteran right-hander is coming off two solid roads starts, both of which he deserved to win, but the Devil Rays managed a total of six runs in the two games. In his last outing, he allowed three runs and four hits over five innings of a 5-4 defeat at Houston on Saturday, but didn’t figure in the decision. Gonzalez is 1-3 with a 5.68 ERA in four career starts against the Reds.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Reds - Austin Kearns, .283 avg. and 54 RBIs; Adam Dunn, 20 HRs; Boone, 42 runs and 9 SBs. Devil Rays - Baldelli, .332 avg. Huff, 14 HRs and 38 runs; Baldelli and Huff, 35 RBIs; Carl Crawford, 15 SBs.

INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Reds - 4-3. Devil Rays - 1-6.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Reds - Ken Griffey Jr. is 1-for-20 with runners in scoring position this season. … RHP Dempster is 1-2 with a 7.42 ERA in five road starts this season. … Of the team’s 32 victories, 22 have been by one or two runs. Devil Rays - Right-handed batters are hitting just .168 against RHP Gonzalez this season. … Tampa Bay has 18 hits in the first two games of this series, and have stranded 20 runners. … The Devil Rays’ current six-game skid is their longest since last Sept. 8-14.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Reds - 14-16 on the road; Devil Rays - 12-18 at home.

INJURIES: Reds - INF Ryan Freel (hamstring), 15-day DL; SS Barry Larkin (calf), 15-day DL; RHP Luke Prokopec (shoulder), 60-day DL. Devil Rays - SS Rey Ordonez (knee), 15-day DL; LHP Joe Kennedy (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Seth McClung (elbow), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Dempster CHC vs. G. Gonzalez TOR
3-7 Record 6-11
6.54 ERA 3.91
84 K 97
70 BB 69
1.76 WHIP 1.28