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Padres' Hamilton Ends Losing Skid

For the first time in five weeks, Joey Hamilton wasn't frustrated with the results.

The right-hander ended his six-game losing streak the worst of his career by allowing just two runs in eight innings in the San Diego Padres' 4-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night.

Since winning at Florida on May 2, Hamilton had lost six straight starts.

"That's tough to do, it really is, especially the fact that I was healthy," Hamilton said. "I wasn't throwing that bad, I just had some problems with my control and my walks and keeping runners off the bases. ... For the most part I wasn't doing my job."

Hamilton (4-7) finally got almost everything right. He went from allowing a career-high seven walks in his previous start to allowing just three, and he stayed away from the big innings that had killed him.

"I was giving up three to four runs in some innings but you really can't do that," said Hamilton, who won a $3.25 million salary in arbitration. "I just got back to where I needed to be. I just have to keep my walk count down and I think everything will be all right."

Hamilton allowed seven hits and struck out five in the only NL game of the night.

Trevor Hoffman pitched the ninth for his 17th save in as many opportunities, and his 25th straight dating to last year, the longest active streak in baseball.

Cincinnati came along at just the right time. Hamilton has won his last five starts against the Reds dating to Sept. 16, 1996. One of those victories was the second game of this season at Cincinnati, in which the Padres rallied from a 6-1 second-inning deficit to win 10-9.

Tony Gwynn, meanwhile, left the game with a left calf strain after flying out in the fifth, finishing an 0-for-3 night. Manager Bruce Bochy said he doesn't think Gwynn will be back before a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers starting a week from Tuesday. That means he'd miss the final two games of the Reds series and a three-game series against San Francisco, which took the NL West lead from San Diego over the weekend.

"It looked like we were getting everyone back full time," Bochy said. "It's a minor setback.

"It's another log on the fire," said Gwynn, whose been bothered by toe and knee injuries. "It's just one thing after another. It goes from the toe to the knee to the toe to the knee, now to the calf."

The Padres broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning by scoring two runs on two singles, two walks, a sacrifice fly by Ken Caminiti and Wally Joyner's RBI groundout.

Quilvio Veras and Steve Finley singled off Scott Sullivan (1-3) to open the seventh, and Sullivan fell behind Ruben Rivera 2-1 before being relieved by Danny Graves. On Graves' first pitch to Rivera, Veras and Finley pulled off double steal, with Veras taking third when Willie Greene dropped Eddie Taubensee's throw. After Rivera walked, Caminiti hit a sacrifice fly to break the tie.

"If we get the guy out at third (on the double steal), then there would have been no runs in the inning," Reds manager Jack McKeon said. "It was a perfect throw."

Greg Vaughn walked to load the bases again, and Joyner hit a chopper to first baseman Dmitri Young, who stepped on the bag for the second out, but his throw home was too late to get Finley.

Reds starter Scott Winchester allowed two runs in the second inning on two hits and three walks.

"We got the one guy out who was throwing balls, but the other guys couldn't (throw strikes)," McKeon said. "The one guy who was dependable is Graves. But that inning was already set up."

Vaughn hit a leadoff triple, and with two out Winchester issued three straight walks, including one to Quilvio Veras to force in a run and make it 1-1. Finley then hit a chopper that Winchester fielded, but Young wasn't covering first, so it went as an infield single that scored Chris Gomez for a 2-1 lead.

The Reds tied it at 2 in the fifth with three straight one-out hits. Barry Larkin's double to right-center scored Reggie Sanders, who singled and took third on Lenny Harris' hit-and-run single.

Sanders, who went 3-for-5, tripled leading off the game and scored on Harris' groundout.

Winchester allowed two runs and four hits in five innings, with five walks and three strikeouts.

Notes: Veras extended his hitting streak to a career-best 10 games with a bunt single that flew over Sullivan's head leading off the seventh. ... In 14 starts this year, Hamilton has allowed 15 first-inning runs. ... The Reds have committed the most errors in the majors, 60, but none in the last five games, their longest errorless streak of the year. ... Andy Ashby, who's pitched three straight complete games, starts for the Padres tonight against Brett Tomko.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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