Reds 4, Yankees 3

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CINCINNATI (AP)—Twenty-seven years later, the Yankees still couldn’t win in Cincinnati.

Juan Castro slapped a run-scoring single just inside first base with two outs in the ninth inning, giving the Cincinnati Reds a 4-3 victory Tuesday in New York’s long-awaited return.

The Yankees got swept by the Big Red Machine in the 1976 World Series, and hadn’t been back since. Their interleague return drew a capacity crowd—only the third of the season at Great American Ball Park—that reveled in another Yankees loss.

“Everybody was into it,” said Yankees starter Andy Pettitte, who let a sixth-inning lead slip away. “Everybody wants to beat the Yankees.”

The Reds beat them the way they usually beat teams at Great American—on their last swing.

Castro’s soft grounder off the end of the bat eluded diving first baseman Jason Giambi and sent the Reds into another hop-in-unison celebration. Fifteen of the Reds’ 28 wins have come in their final at-bat. Seven of them came on game-ending hits at Great American.

“You can’t let us hang around,” manager Bob Boone said. “The electricity was up. Everybody knew it was the Yankees, but you don’t play different. You do get up for it more. It’s fun.”

In his first game as the Yankees’ captain, Derek Jeter managed only a harmless single in five at-bats, extending his hitting streak to a season-high 10 games.

The long-awaited rematch came down to the bullpens, and Reds relievers were a little better. Chris Reitsma (4-2) struck out four in two perfect innings, while Antonio Osuna failed in the end.

Jason LaRue doubled high off the wall in center with one out in the ninth, missing another game-ending homer at Great American by about two feet.

Osuna (1-2) struck out Felipe Lopez, then fell behind in the count to Castro before giving up the game-winning single.

“Castro hit a good pitch,” said Osuna, who threw a cut fastball. “It was a little off the plate. He’s a good hitter to right field.”

Castro became the seventh different Red to come through with a game-ending hit. His biggest hit of the season came off a friend—Castro is the godfather to Osuna’s daughter, Lohami.

“In this game, when he’s on the mound, I don’t know who it is,” Castro said. “If you think about him being a friend, you’re not going to swing as hard.”

Pettitte had an RBI single as the Yankees got up 3-1, but had two wild pitches and a throwing error that helped the Reds tie it in the sixth, setting up the last-inning rally.

“Today was a game we felt we should have won, only because we gave too much away,” manager Joe Torre said.

Boone stacked the top of his lineup with left-handed hitters—Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, Ken Griffey Jr.—against the left-handed Pettitte, and watched it work in a roundabout way.

Griffey had a pair of singles and the top of the order figured in Cincinnati’s first three runs, with lots of help from Pettitte. Leading 3-1 in the sixth, he walked Dunn, then gave up a two-out single to Griffey.

His first two pitches to Austin Kearns bounced for wild pitches that brought Dunn home. Pettitte then fielded Kearns’ slow roller, and his throw to first hit Kearns in the back of the helmet for an error that let Griffey score.

“I really threw the ball right where I wanted to all night long,” said Pettitte, who gave up five hits in seven innings. “I can’t remember making a bad pitch, where it was just a terrible pitch.”

It was no surprise to see Griffey involved in a rally against the Yankees. Griffey is a .313 career hitter against the New York with 32 homers.

Reds starter Jimmy Haynes also had a bout of wildness that cost him a chance for a win.

Giambi led off the second inning with his 12th homer, and Haynes walked Giambi and Jorge Posada to open the sixth. Raul Mondesi and Pettitte had RBI singles for a 3-1 lead.

It was Pettitte’s third hit and his second RBI in 24 regular-season at-bats.

The Yankees made a little history beforehand, appointing Jeter their 11th team captain. Owner George Steinbrenner decided to announce the honor in a NLballpark rather than waiting for the Yankees’ return next week.

Notes

Former Yankees and Reds outfielder Paul O’Neill threw a ceremonial first pitch to Reds SS Barry Larkin. Peter Frampton led the crowd in “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch. … The Yankees are 59-44 in interleague play. Only Oakland has a better record in the AL. … The Reds went 2-10 in interleague play last season and are 37-49 overall. … The Reds plan to activate RHP Ryan Dempster from the 15-day disabled list Saturday to start against Toronto. Dempster had an inflamed nerve in his neck and wassent to Triple-A Louisville to regain his control.

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