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Reds Lose Crucial Game In 10


The Cincinnati Reds' vaunted bullpen didn't come through, and the NL playoff race got a whole lot tighter.

The Reds couldn't hold a three-run lead, and Ron Belliard's two-out single scored Mark Loretta as the Milwaukee Brewers beat Cincinnati 4-3 in 10 innings on Friday night.

The loss kept the Reds (95-65) in a tie for the NL Central lead with the Astros (95-65), who lost 5-1 to the Dodgers. Cincinnati and Houston's lead over the New York Mets in the wild-card race was sliced to one game with two games left to play.

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Game Summary

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  • "What hurts is knowing Houston lost and we didn't close this one out tonight," said reliever Scott Sullivan, who lost the game by allowing consecutive two-out singles in the 10th. "What hurts is knowing we let a golden opportunity slip away."

    The Reds' bullpen, considered one of the majors' best throughout the season, was uncharacteristically sloppy.

    "We're sure making things interesting," manager Jim Lefebvre said. "We came out and did our job a little better than they did."

    Reliever Scott Williamson blew a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning when Jeff Cirillo's single scored Jose Valentin and Loretta. The tie erased six strong innings of work by starter Denny Neagle, who was looking for his seventh straight win.

    Sullivan (5-4) hit Loretta with a pitch opening the 10th. Two outs later, rookie pinch-hitter Kevin Barker singled to right, advancing Loretta to third.

    Belliard then sinled to right and Loretta scored easily, bringing the Brewers out of their dugout for a small celebration.

    Neither reliever was looking for excuses after the game.

    "I fell behind in the count to (Cirillo), and he got me," Williamson said. "I just didn't do my job."

    "We let one slip away, and I was the biggest part of it," Sullivan said. "But you can't harp on a loss right now. We've got to come back here in 12 hours."

    Rocky Coppinger (5-3) pitched two innings for Milwaukee, which used seven pitchers.

    "That was the most exciting game I've ever been involved in," Coppinger said. "We're not going out easy. We're building for spring training."

    Cincinnati had two on in the 10th, but Marquis Grissom made a diving catch of Eddie Taubensee's sinking liner to center, ending the inning.

    Reds manager Jack McKeon thinks the NL Central race will probably go down to a one-game playoff.

    "It sure looks like it's going that way, doesn't it?" he asked. "Nobody's getting out of this thing easy."

    Neagle, who allowed four hits and struck out four, left before the seventh with a chance to become the Reds' fourth 10-game winner.

    But Williamson, who had a strong start before developing tendinitis in his shoulder in September, walked Valentin leading off the eighth. Loretta hit a one-out double, and Cirillo then lined a pitch back up the middle that scored Valentin and Loretta, who slid under Mike Cameron's throw.

    Greg Vaughn, who led the majors with 14 homers and 33 RBIs in September, drove in his 115th run with a fourth-inning solo homer off Scott Karl that put the Reds up 3-0. Pokey Reese stole a career-high three bases for the Reds.

    Cameron hit a homer in the third that scored Reese, who reached on a walk, was sacrificed to second by Neagle and stole third. Cameron's homer was a low shot that landed just behind the short left-field porch at County Stadium.

    One inning later, Vaughn hit a slightly higher shot that landed about 10 yards to the left of Cameron's homer. Karl, who was drilled in his right hip on a comebacker by Sean Casey two pitches earlier, hung a curveball that became Vaughn's 44th homer.

    Neagle, who worked through the sixth inning of each of his last six wins, allowed just two singles in the first five innings but tired in the sixth, when Cirillo doubled in Vlentin for the Brewers' only run off Neagle.

    A light rain fell in Milwaukee most of the day but stopped shortly before game time, when the temperature was a chilly 54 degrees. The drizzle began again in the eighth.

    Notes

  • The Reds' loss clinched home-field advantage for the Arizona Diamondbacks in the playoffs' first round.
  • Karl left after the fourth because of a bruise.
  • Cirillo's first RBI, his 84th of the season, was a career high and a record for a Brewers third baseman.
  • All-Star Brewers catcher David Nilsson, who last played on Aug. 28 before going on the disabled list with a broken right thumb, grounded out to first as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. Nilsson, a free agent at the end of the season, is expected to leave the Brewers this winter.
  • Plate umpire Dana DeMuth called Vaughn out on strikes in the 10th, and Vaughn became incensed. He yelled at DeMuth from the dugout and threw his helmet on the field, but DeMuth didn't eject him.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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