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Reds Outlast Expos In 11th


Until Sean Casey's final swing, it was a long and frustrating day for the Cincinnati Reds.

That last swing changed it into a long and successful day.

Hitless in his first five at-bats Sunday, Casey hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the Reds a 4-3 victory over the Montreal Expos and another winning series.

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There was more relief than celebration when Mike Cameron crossed the plate on Casey's fly out to deep left field, moving the Reds to a half-game behind Houston in the NL Central.

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  • "It was just an exhausting day," said Casey, who lacked his usual exuberance afterward. "It was an emotional day, a back-and-forth day. It was a great win."

    The Reds took two of three from Montreal and have won their last nine series since July 23, the longest streak in the majors this season. The New York Mets won eight in a row.

    "It's pretty amazing," manager Jack McKeon said. "It's tough to sweep a series. You've got to be thinking two-of-three or three-of-four, but that's tough."

    They've won three-of-four twice during their streak, taken two-of-three six times and swept a two-game series.

    In all, the Reds have won 20 of 28 since July 24 and haven't lost two games in a row during that span. The win Sunday was one of the most remarkable of the bunch, as the Reds kept coming back for a three-hour, 47-minute win.

    "It wasn't pretty today, but it was just a huge win," said Aaron Boone, whose RBI single tied it in the 10th and gave the Reds a second chance. "This is the time of year when you need to win."

    Montreal's Vladimir Guerrero extended his hitting streak to 27 games, the longest in team history, with an RBI double in the first inning. Otherwise, the Expos had few good moments and a lot of bad moments defensively in the long afternoon.

    Montreal gave up a 2-1 lead by letting Cincinnati score a run on three ground-ball singles that found Expos' gloves in the seventh. Montreal has the worst fielding percentage and most errors in the majors.

    "They hit a lot of groundballs in this series," Expos manager Felipe Alou said. "You've got to give them credit for their speed and hustle. That extra effort will produce fruits like that."

    The teams traded runs in the 10th inning, when Shane Andrews' double off Scott Sullivan (4-3) put the Expos up 3-2 and Montreal brought on closer Ugueth Urbina to try for his 30th save.

    Barry Larkin singled, stole second and third and came home on Boone's single up the middle with two outs, giving Urbina (6-5) his eighth blown save in 36 chances.

    The Reds won it when Urbina walked Cameron with one out in the 11th, then gave up a single to Michael Tucker and walked Jeffrey Hammonds to load the bases. Casey fell behind 0-2 in the count, fouled off two pitches, took a ball and then hit a fly ball deep to left to end it.

    "There's no way I was striking out," said Casey, who slammed his bat and threw his helmet after striking out in the eighth. "He could have thrown me the kitchen sink and there's no way I was striking out. At 0-2, I wasn't worried."

    Montreal's Dustin Hermanson allowed four hits in six innings and turned a 2-1 lead over to the bullpen, only to remain winless against his boyhood team. Hermanson, who grew up in nearby Springfield, is 0-3 in seven starts against the Reds, although he could have broken the streak with just a little help on Sunday.

    "It was one of those days when my arm wouldn't loosen up all the way," Hermanson said. "It will make me a stronger person and pitcher to have a game like that and go out and battle them."

    Guerrero's RBI double off Ron Villone extended his streak and got the Expos rolling. Chris Widger followed with single that produced a run and an injury Widger fell rouding first and sprained his left knee, forcing him from the game.

    McKeon turned in a lineup without Greg Vaughn, who was in a 1-for-20 slump and is 0-for-11 career against Hermanson with five strikeouts. He pinch-hit in the eighth and struck out.

    Notes

  • Guerrero's streak is the third-longest in the majors this season, trailing Luis Gonzalez's 30-gamer for Arizona and Shawn Green's 28-gamer for Toronto.
  • Montreal's Brad Fullmer also extended his hitting streak to a career-best 16 games.
  • Montreal went 4-7 on its road trip. The Expos return home for a series against St. Louis and surging Mark McGwire, who had his way with Montreal's pitching staff at the end of last season. McGwire hit homers 66 through 70 off the Expos.
  • The Reds head to Atlanta, where they were swept in a three-game series April 30-May 2 and haven't won a series since 1995, dropping seven straight. The Reds have the best road record in the majors at 38-17.
  • Larkin flew out to the warning track in the fourth. He hasn't homered since June 21, a 54-game span that ties for third-longest of his career. He went 59 games without a homer in 1988 and had streaks of 54 and 55 games in 1990.

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

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