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Mabry’s two-run homer helps Oakland lead Boston

By Joe Kay, The Associated Press
Saturday June 22, 2002

CINCINNATI — Every move by the Oakland Athletics is coming up a winner. 

John Mabry, added to the lineup after Cincinnati lost its only left-handed reliever, hit an RBI single and two-run homer to lead Oakland over the Reds 5-3 Friday night. 

The Athletics, playing in Cincinnati for the first time since the 1990 World Series, sent the Reds to their season-high fifth straight loss. 

Miguel Tejada also homered as Oakland got its fifth straight win and its 13th in 14 games. The streak has pulled them back into contention in the AL West and moved them a season-high 10 games over .500. 

“Awesome,” Mabry summed up. “It’s just phenomenal to watch.” 

Manager Art Howe wasn’t going to start the left-handed-hitting Mabry, until he arrived at the ballpark and learned that Gabe White, Cincinnati’s only left-handed reliever, had been hospitalized with an infected pitching hand. 

Mabry ended up making the difference — typical of how things have gone for the Reds during their longest losing streak of the season. 

“They’re not missing mistakes right now,” said starter Jimmy Haynes, who gave up two runs in six innings. “Everything seems to go wrong. That’s just what happens when you get into a funk. Now we’re in a pretty big one.” 

Billy Koch pitched the ninth and set a franchise record by saving a fifth consecutive game, including one in each of the last four days. Koch has 19 saves in 23 chances overall and isn’t about to slow down. 

“It’s working, keep going,” said Koch, who gave up an unearned run in the ninth. “If I throw a pitch and it lands halfway to the plate, then I’ve probably been out there too much.” 

The A’s are the toughest team to beat in interleague play, going 12-1 this season. They’ve won 20 of their last 22 against the NL, leaving them 62-37 overall. 

“I think we need to go to the National League,” Koch said. “Pick a division, it doesn’t matter.” 

Their latest win came in a ballpark that was the setting for one of the most disappointing series in franchise history. 

In 1990, the Bash Brothers — Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco — led the Athletics to the World Series. The Reds won the first two games against their heavily favored opponent at Riverfront Stadium, then went on to complete a sweep in Oakland. 

There were only two holdovers Friday. Reds shortstop Barry Larkin went 0-for-4, ending his hitting streak at 13 games, and right-hander Jose Rijo watched from the bench. Rijo, who was MVP of the 1990 Series, is on the disabled list with a weak shoulder. 

The A’s had the upper hand this time against a team stuck in a deep offensive slump. 

The Reds have scored only seven runs — two of them unearned — during their losing streak. The majors’ worst clutch-hitting team is 2-for-40 with runners in scoring position during the skid. 

Manager Bob Boone shook up the Reds’ slumping lineup Friday, benching third baseman Aaron Boone, first baseman Sean Casey and right fielder Austin Kearns. 

It didn’t make much of a difference. In six innings against Aaron Harang (3-2), the Reds managed only three infield singles and doubles by Ken Griffey Jr. and Juan Encarnacion. 

Encarnacion had a sacrifice fly in the first, and the AL’s top-fielding team got sloppy in the fourth, committing a pair of errors that set up an unearned run off Harang. 

“It’s a game of feel and when you don’t feel it, boy, it’s tough,” Bob Boone said. “You hate to see so many guys go into it at once. That’s very unusual. Nobody’s feeling comfortable standing in the batter’s box.” 

Tejada led off the fourth with his 15th homer off Haynes, and Mabry singled on a two-strike pitch to tie it for a run-scoring single that tied it at 2 in the sixth inning. 

Terrence Long opened the seventh with a double off Scott Williamson (2-1) and scored the tie-breaking run on a groundout and a wild pitch. Mabry hit his second homer off Scott Sullivan an inning later. 

Griffey was back in the Reds’ lineup after resting his tender hamstring for one game, getting a double in four at-bats. 

Oakland was missing Jermaine Dye, one of its hottest hitters. The outfielder was on the bench with a tight hamstring. 

Notes: The Reds sold 26,101 tickets for the game and a Village People concert immediately afterward. ... The Athletics also played in Cincinnati during the 1972 World Series, which they won in seven games. ... A’s 2B Mark Ellis committed a throwing error and went 0-for-4, ending an eight-game hitting streak.