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Slumping Reds Fall To Young D'Backs

The new kids on the block are teaching baseball's oldest professional team a thing or two about how to play the game.

Jay Bell homered and drove in two runs and Devon White hit his first right-handed homer of the season Wednesday night, leading the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 4-1 victory over the slumping Cincinnati Reds.

The Diamondbacks have won the first two games of their series and will try for the first three-game sweep in franchise history on Thursday. The back-to-back wins are their first since June 1-2.

Arizona has the bigger payroll $30.6 million on opening day to $22 million for Cincinnati and seems to be on the upswing in its inaugural season.

"Over the last month, we've played pretty good baseball," Bell said, referring to Arizona's 16-16 record in the last 32 games. "We've gotten good starting pitching, the relief pitching has been very good, and we've had timely hitting.

"We've played good, competitive baseball. We knew there was going to be a point this year where we were going to do that. We're still not where we want to be."

While the Diamondbacks see a turnaround in the making, the Reds are headed nowhere. They've lost four in a row and 12 of 15, falling a season-low 12 games under .500 at 30-42.

During the four-game losing streak, Cincinnati has as many errors as runs seven. The Reds lead the major leagues with 70 errors in 72 games and have a feeble offense that has scored two or fewer runs in nine of the last 12 games.

The Reds have only two runs and 16 hits in their first two games against Arizona, which has the second-worst team earned run average in the National League.

"If I'm some of these guys, I'm embarrassed with all of the chances they've had to knock some runs in," manager Jack McKeon said. "Everybody else has been beating these guys up. They've been having some trouble scoring runs. Maybe my hitters aren't good enough. I don't know. I thought they were."

Andy Benes (5-7) rebounded from his shortest starts in two years by holding the Reds to five hits in eight innings. Benes lasted only 4 1-3 and 3 innings in his last two starts, when he gave up 13 runs.

"The last couple of starts haven't been good, to say the least," Benes said. "Over the course of a year, you're going to have bad games, though not usually back-to-back. It's not the bad games, it's how you respond to them."

Gregg Olson got the last three outs for his ninth save in 12 chances. He gave up a pair of singles to open the inning but got Dmitri Young to hit into a double play to undercut the rally.

Left-hander Mike Remlinger (4-8) gave up six hits in seven innings, including solo homers by Bell and White, as he lost for the fifth time in six decisions.

White, who retrned to the lineup in the series opener after missing two games with a strained wrist, singled home a run in the third to put the Diamondbacks up 1-0.

Bell hit his 11th homer and third in seven games for a 2-0 lead in the fourth. Hurting the Reds is nothing new for the former Pittsburgh shortstop, whose .329 career average against Cincinnati is his best against any team.

White hit a 414-foot homer in the fifth off the left-field foul screen, his 10th of the season and his first batting right-handed. White's last two right-handed homers were grand slams off Baltimore's Jesse Orosco last Sept. 1 and off San Francisco's Wilson Alvarez in Game 3 of the division series.

White said his teammates didn't believe him when he told them he had good power from the right side.

"A lot of them have never seen me hit (a homer) from the right side," White said. "They've been giving me a hard time."

Bell added a sacrifice fly in the eighth off Danny Graves.

Cincinnati scored in the fifth when Tony Tarasco doubled his first hit as a Red and came around on Remlinger's sacrifice bunt and Pat Watkins' sacrifice fly.

Notes: A banner in right field read, "Jay Bell Fan Club." Another in left said, "Andy Stankiewicz Fan Club." No Reds fan clubs were represented. ... Third baseman Matt Williams, who left Tuesday's game with a strained hamstring, was back in Arizona's lineup. Cincinnati's Reggie Sanders, who also strained a hamstring, was on the bench. ... The Diamondbacks have had an extra-base hit in their last 58 games. ... Reds catcher Eddie Taubensee stole second base in the second inning, the 11th steal of his career. His last steal was exactly two years earlier: June 17, 1996 in Houston. ... Pete Rose Jr., who was hitting .277 for Triple-A Indianapolis, was demoted to Double-A Chattanooga on Wednesday. He has split time between third base and first base.

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

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