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Reds Drop Tenth Straight 7-2

There was a stuffed gorilla seated by the railing of the Cincinnati Reds' dugout for good luck, of course.

The hitting coach was back on the bench, having patched up the club's latest rift. And Lenny Harris, the team's best pinch-hitter, was playing right field and leading off in a revamped lineup.

The Reds tried everything to break out of their month-long slump Tuesday, but couldn't come up with anything to match Johnny Damon's homers and Hal Morris' defense.

Damon drove in four runs with a pair of homers and Morris, a former Red, went 4-for-5 and made a game-saving play at first base, leading the Kansas City Royals to a 6-4 victory.

While Kansas City completed an invigorating 7-2 road trip, the Reds lost for the 10th straight time and the 18th time in 21 games in June.

"I can appreciate what they're going through," said Morris, who played for the Reds from 1990-97 and still has close friends on the team. "We had some tough times earlier this year and long losing streaks ourselves. Everyone goes through stretches where everything seems to turn against you. It seems to always happen at least once a year."

The Reds haven't been through anything like this in five years. The last time they went so long without a win was 1993, when they lost 12 in a row after Tony Perez was fired.

They pulled out everything on Tuesday owner Marge Schott sent down a stuffed gorilla for good luck, hitting coach Ken Griffey was back in the dugout after walking out in a huff the previous night.

When Damon misplayed a fly ball to set up a two-run first for the Reds, it looked like things might change.

"I said, `It looks like we might be getting some breaks for a change,"' manager Jack McKeon said. "I thought we were going to win that game. Deep down, I had a feeling. If we could have contained them for awhile, it might have worked."

Scott Klingenbeck (1-2) couldn't hold the rare lead. Jeff Conine hit a solo homer in the second and Damon tied it with another in the third. Damon followed it an inning later with a three-run homer, his eighth, and the tone was set.

Damon, who set a career high with eight homers last season, has been working on keeping his weight back so he can drive the ball farther. His swing is becoming more powerful.

"It's not McGwire-esque, because I'm not as strong," Damon said. "When I was growing up, I was pretty strong for a kid. For some reason, I've not been able to hit more home runs."

Pat Rapp (7-6) gave up eight hits and three runs in six innings to break out of a rut and win consecutive starts for the first time since May 7-13. Rapp had alternated wins and losses in his last seven decisions.

Scott Service got his first save since 1993 and the third of his career by pitcing the final three innings and giving up one run. Morris made a diving stop on Sean Casey's grounder down the line at first base to save a run and end a threat in the seventh.

"I think Morris' play turned the game," manager Tony Muser said. "If Hal doesn't make that play, we probably don't win."

"The ball found my glove somehow," Morris said.

While the Reds wondered how long their bad luck would hold out, Muser mused about ways to keep the Royals' road luck going when they return home.

"It was a good trip. It will be nice to be back home after eight days," he said. "We're going to wear our road grays tomorrow. I don't know if there's a league rule."

Notes: Morris has three four-hit games this season and 12 in his career. He had a 10-game hitting streak snapped Monday night when he came into the game late and fouled out in his only at-bat. ... The Royals have won their last four series. ... Rapp went 0-for-2 at the plate. Royals pitchers are 2-for-28 in interleague games the past two seasons. ... Rapp is 5-0 with a 2.47 earned run average in six road starts this season. He's 2-6 at home. ... Slumping Reggie Sanders (1-for-24) was out of the Reds' lineup. Harris started in right field, batted leadoff and went 0-for-4.

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

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