Looking to continue their surprising surge, the Reds try to match their longest winning streak of the season and complete a three-game sweep of the first-place San Francisco Giants.
One of the most tumultuous weeks in Cincinnati’s franchise history is somehow ending with success on the field.
Manager Bob Boone, general manager Jim Bowden and two coaches were fired Monday, then the team traded away some of its top players to dump payroll. Closer Scott Williamson was shipped to Boston on Tuesday, outfielder Jose Guillen went to Oakland on Wednesday and All-Star third baseman Aaron Boone was dealt to the New York Yankees along with reliever Gabe White shortly before Thursday’s deadline.
Despite the turmoil, Cincinnati has won four in a row and seven of eight. The Reds’ longest win streak of the year was a five-game run from May 5-9.
“I don’t want to say it’s players versus the front office, but guys down here were upset about what happened,” said Barry Larkin, whose bases-loaded walk in the seventh inning drove in the go-ahead run Saturday in Cincinnati’s 5-4 win.
“Now there are opportunities, and guys are taking advantage.”
San Francisco made one of the most noteworthy deals at the trade deadline, acquiring 14-game winner Sidney Ponson from the Baltimore Orioles. Ponson, however, is not scheduled to make his Giants debut until Wednesday.
Ponson has watched his new team drop three straight, the Giants’ worst losing streak since mid-June. Despite the recent skid, San Francisco has an 11-game lead over second-place Arizona in the NL West.
“I want to see us get back to the way we were playing the first four months,” Giants manager Felipe Alou said. “We’re playing tired, and we’ve got to get our pitching staff back together.”
Barry Bonds hit his major league-leading 34th home run in Saturday’s loss. Bonds’ 647th career homer, his first in seven games, left him 13 behind Willie Mays for third place on the all-time list.
STANDINGS (through Aug. 1): Giants - 1st place, NL West. Reds - 5th place, 9 GB, NL Central.
GIANTS PROBABLE STARTER: Dustin Hermanson (1-2, 5.46 ERA). Hermanson has been called up from Triple-A Fresno to make his Giants debut and his first start since August of last year with Boston. San Francisco picked up the right-hander, and sent him to the minors, after St. Louis let him go in early July. He has not pitched in the majors since throwing a perfect inning of relief for the Cardinals on June 17. Hermanson is 2-9 with a 5.23 ERA in 18 career appearances against Cincinnati.
REDS PROBABLE STARTER: Jimmy Haynes (2-11, 5.89 ERA). Haynes, who has won one of his last nine starts, is 0-2 with a 10.03 ERA in his last three outings. His feet and his arm let him down in Tuesday’s 5-3 loss to Colorado. Besides giving up four runs and 10 hits in 4 1-3 innings, Haynes was thrown out at first by the right fielder on what appeared to be a sure single. The right-hander is 2-3 with a 3.94 ERA in nine career games against San Francisco.
SEASON SERIES: Reds, 3-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Giants - RHP Felix Rodriguez was 6-0 in 51 relief appearances heading into this series, but has taken the loss in each of the last two games. He’s recorded just two outs while giving up three runs. … OF Jose Cruz Jr. is in a 2-for-37 (.054) slump. … 1B J.T. Snow has sat out the last seven games due to a strained groin. Reds - OF Reggie Taylor is hitless in his last 15 at-bats. … Twenty-three of Cincinnati’s 51 wins have come by one run. … RHP Felix Heredia, who notched his first save of the season Saturday, has not allowed a run in his last 13 innings.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Giants - 31-26 on the road; Reds - 27-30 at home.
INJURIES: Giants - 1B Snow (groin), day-to-day; RHP Kirk Rueter (shoulder), 15-day DL; C Alberto Castillo (wrist), 15-day DL; OF Marvin Benard (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Robb Nen (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Chad Zerbe (oblique), 15-day DL. Reds - OF Kearns (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Ryan Dempster (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Scott Sullivan (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Luke Prokopec (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Ken Griffey Jr. (ankle), 60-day DL.