Harang's advice pays off, Mariners beat Reds

Jeff Wallner, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


CINCINNNATI -- Mariners right-hander Aaron Harang spent seven seasons in Cincinnati and is quite familiar with the hitter-friendly environs of Great American Ball Park. Harang, who pitched in Cincinnati on Friday for the first time since leaving the Reds as a free agent in 2010, had this message for Mariners hitters prior to the game:
"I told them not to change their approach at the plate," Harang said. "Maybe it's good that we didn't take batting practice today, so they didn't get too excited."
Harang then followed his own advice on the mound, allowing two runs over six innings, while Nick Franklin and Michael Saunders homered to lift Seattle to a 4-2 victory over Cincinnati in the opener of a three-game interleague series before 33,956 fans, who greeted Harang warmly throughout his return.
"I finally got that first start here from the opposing side of the field," Harang said. "It was nice to finally get to come in and make a start here. I still keep up with the (Reds). I keep an eye on the standings."
Harang (3-7) allowed two runs on six hits in six innings, walked one and struck out four.
"It has to be a big deal for him," said Mariners manager Eric Wedge. "He had a lot of good years here. I felt like the fans appreciated him here today, and he went out and threw a good ballgame."
Wedge didn't discuss batting leadoff with Brad Miller prior to Friday's game, but Miller responded by going 2-for-4 with a pair of triples and scored in his big-league debut hitting first.
"I like the way he comes out of the box," Wedge said. "I didn't say anything to him about batting leadoff. I didn't want to make a big deal out of it."
First baseman Joey Votto went 2-for-4 including his 15th home run for Cincinnati, which fell to 1-9 all-time against Seattle.
The Mariners led 4-0 in the fifth, but the Reds climbed back into the game.
Shin-Soo Choo's RBI double in the fifth drove home Cincinnati's first run.
In the sixth, Votto launched a 1-1 pitch from Harang an estimated 443 feet into the television camera booth in center field to make the score 4-2.
Oliver Perez struck out three straight batters in the ninth to earn his second save.
Mike Leake (7-4) took the loss for the Reds.
"They had a game plan," Leake said. "They were aggressive, and I made a couple of mistakes that got me."
It took just two pitches from Leake for the Mariners to grab the lead. Miller's first career triple came on Leake's first pitch and was immediately followed by Franklin's fifth home run, a two-run shot putting Seattle ahead 2-0.
"They came out smoking," said Reds manager Dusty Baker of the Mariners. "Leake wasn't fooling anybody. He was getting the ball up. They had a whole bunch of left-handers in their lineup. We got Leake out before they did too much damage."
Saunders hit a solo homer off Leake in the second and added a sacrifice fly in the fourth to give the Mariners a four-run lead. Leake, who allowed two home runs for the first time since May 8, pitched five innings and was charged with four earned runs and five hits.
The early run support was a boost for Harang in his 14th start, helping him improve to 3-0 lifetime against his former team.
"He was mixing his pitches up real well," Reds third baseman Todd Frazier of Harang. "It was a weird game. It felt like we could come back. They came out swinging, and with Harang throwing well and mixing his pitches and hitting his spots, that's a win for them."
NOTES: Miller is the first player to hit two triples at Great American Ball Park and the first Mariners player to do it since Carlos Guillen on May 9, 2003 against the White Sox. ... Harang returned to Cincinnati, where he made 217 appearances, including 213 starts, for the Reds from 2003 to 2010. He ranks sixth in franchise history with 1,125 strikeouts. Harang was facing the Reds for the fourth time, going 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in three prior outings. ... Wedge discussed why he wanted Miller batting leadoff. "He puts up good at-bats. I like having the young kids up top, then veterans in the middle" ... Mariners OF Michael Morse, on the disabled list with a right quad strain, did not run the bases as planned before Friday's game because of damp conditions at Great American Ball Park. He was eligible to come off the DL on Friday but is expected to go on a rehab assignment. ... Reds LHP Sean Marshall, on the DL since May 24 with a shoulder injury, threw 39 pitches off the mound and is expected to throw another bullpen session on Sunday when he will mix in breaking pitches.