Dodgers 5, Reds 2
LOS ANGELES (AP)—When Kevin Brown won his 10th straight decision, his teammates thought he’d never lose again this season. It took him seven more starts before he got his next win.
“It’s been a long time. It’s nice to get back in the right column,” Brown said after the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-2 Tuesday night. “It’s nice to not worry about every pitch. The guys are doing everything they can to turn things around. The key is, we still have to play hard every day.”
Brown (11-5) had gone 0-4 since June 17, when he beat San Francisco. The six-time All-Star, who leads the majors with a 2.13 ERA, allowed two runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings and struck out nine.
“Anytime you can get a few runs for Kevin Brown to work with, he’s usually going to pretty much shut the door,” said Sean Casey, who drove in both of Cincinnati’s runs with a triple.
After striking out his first two batters in the seventh, Brown gave up a walk and a single by Barry Larkin, who was 3-for-5 after getting only six hits in his previous 41 at-bats.
Tom Martin relieved and walked Casey to load the bases, but escaped the jam when Adam Dunn struck out. Dunn, hitting only .218 despite 26 homers and 55 RBIs, struck out three times to raise his season total to 115. He set a club record last season by whiffing 170 times.
“He’s got the home run-hitting swing, and guys like that are going to strike out sometimes,” Casey said. “But I’d take Adam Dunn hitting home runs and driving in runs and take the strikeouts with it, because that comes with the territory.”
The Dodgers, playing their first game since replacing hitting coach Jack Clark with George Hendrick, got three runs in the fifth inning to take a 4-2 lead. Alex Cora tied it with his third homer—and the 26th allowed by Danny Graves, who was converted into a starter this season after four seasons as the Reds’ closer.
“He’s tough,” Dodgers catcher Paul Lo Duca said of Graves. “He’s a good sinkerball pitcher, so you’ve got to try to make him get the ball up because that’s the only time you can really hurt him.”
Hendrick, who began the season with the Dodgers’ Triple-A team in Las Vegas, knows he has his work cut out for him. Los Angeles entered Tuesday last in the NL in batting average (.239), runs (379), hits (888), home runs (74), walks (260), slugging percentage (.357) and on-base percentage (.297)—and had been shut out a league-leading nine times.
“I don’t expect miracles, I can tell you that,” manager Jim Tracy said. “I don’t expect him to be a savior. Is this going to make a huge difference? I don’t know the answer. But if nothing had been done at all, and we were to remain offensively the way we’ve been for 110 games, then we wouldn’t know anything.”
The Dodgers added an unearned run in the seventh against Kent Mercker. Catcher Jason LaRue tried to throw out pinch-runner Jason Romano on the front end of a double steal as Izturis struck out, but the ball sailed past third baseman Juan Castro and down the line.
The Reds took a 2-0 lead in the third when Casey’s hit down the left-field line kicked off the front of the box seats in the corner and skipped away from Jeromy Burnitz for a triple. Casey’s second triple of the season drove in D’Angelo Jimenez and Larkin, but Brown struck out his next four batters to begin a streak of nine in a row.
Graves (4-12) lost his fifth straight decision over seven starts, allowingfour runs and six hits over six innings. He struck out two and walked two.
Actress Sharon Stone threw a ceremonial first pitch. Her batterymate was Fernando Valenzuela. … Graves, who pitches from a stretch regardless of whether there are any baserunners, has allowed 1.55 home runs per nine innings. He entered this season having allowed 0.73 homers per nine innings. … TheReds will call up INF Brandon Larson from Triple-A Louisville on Wednesday.