Reds 5, Pirates 1
CINCINNATI (AP)—This much is certain: Barry Larkin is leaving his hometown with something to remember.
Frustrated that the Cincinnati Reds have brushed him aside and refused to talk about a contract extension, the 40-year-old shortstop took his anger out in a final at-bat Friday night.
Larkin hit a solo homer—perhaps his last in a Reds uniform—and got a curtail call that capped a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“That was straight anger, frustration and anger,” said Larkin, relegated to the bench for most of the last month. “It all exploded. It’s been a tough thing to go through.”
Adam Dunn hit his 46th homer, the fourth-highest total in Cincinnati history, but the moment belonged to one of the city’s most renowned athletes.
Larkin is concluding his 19th season with his hometown team, which has declined to discuss a contract extension until after the season. That lent poignancy to his final weekend.
He hadn’t started in two weeks, relegated to the bench as the Reds got a look at their younger infielders. As a courtesy, manager Dave Miley decided to let him start the first and last games of the final series.
More than 8,000 fans bought tickets at the gates, a walk-up that swelled the crowd to 26,841 for an otherwise unremarkable game between two losing teams.
Larkin insisted before the game that he hasn’t lost his touch at shortstop. He then showed he hasn’t lost his ability to give a crowd goose bumps.
“I pinch myself every time we play against the Reds and he’s the shortstop,” Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson said. “I’m honored to play the same position and be on the field with him. The people of Cincinnati have been absolutely blessed to watch that guy play baseball. It’s unreal.”
So was his last at-bat.
After failing to get the ball out of the infield in his first three at-bats, leaving him in an 0-for-21 slump that coincided with his benching, Larkin connected solidly off Frank Brooks for a solo homer in the seventh.
He jogged around the bases with his head down, following baseball protocol the whole way, then pointed to his father, Robert, in the stands after he crossed the plate.
“He hasn’t come to a game since all those things started happening,” Larkin said. “My mom is still not coming because she’s so upset.”
The crowd stayed on its feet for an extended ovation, drawing Larkin from the dugout for a curtain call.
“The fans were great. They’ve been great through this entire ordeal,” said Larkin, who has eight homers this season and 198 career.
It was the loudest moment in a game with a few other highlights.
Juan Castro hit a solo homer and two-run double off left-hander Dave Williams (2-3). Dunn also had a solo homer, a second-inning shot that broke a tie with Greg Vaughn for fourth place on the franchise list. George Foster holds the team record with 52 homers in 1977.
Dunn already has set a major league mark for strikeouts in a season. He fanned one time Friday, raising his total to 192.
Jack Wilson made Pirates history with his 200th hit, a third-inning single to the opposite field. He became the first Pirates player with 200 hits since Dave Parker had 215 in 1977.
Honus Wagner is the only other Pittsburgh shortstop to get 200 hits—he had 201 in 1908.
“Before my second at-bat, I said it would be pretty special if I got my 200th hit (to right field),” Wilson said. “That’s the extra step I took this year—hitting the ball the other way.”
Craig Wilson hit his 29th homer in the seventh inning for the only run for Pittsburgh, which lost for the eighth time in 10 games.
Paul Wilson (11-6) allowed only five hits in his third career complete game, giving him victories in his last two starts. Wilson, who made $3.5 million and is eligible for free agency, wound up a symbol of the Reds’ season.
The right-hander won his first seven decisions, helping the Reds turn into baseball’s early season surprise. He was 9-2 on July 8, but didn’t win again until last Saturday in Pittsburgh.
Pirates OF Jason Bay, a leading candidate for NL rookie of the year, went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. … Reds closer Danny Graves, recovering from strep throat, probably won’t appear during the series. Graves tired quickly when he threw in the bullpen Friday. … Castro was a late replacement for 2B D’Angelo Jimenez, who has a sore right thumb.