Reds get four-run first inning, cruise to win over Dodgers

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES Maybe their first-inning outburst put the Reds in a greedy mood, maybe it was Pete Schourek shutting the Dodgers down.

Whatever the case, Cincinnati was craving more after beating Los Angeles 7-2 Tuesday night in Game 1 of their playoff series.

''Obviously, it's huge to get this first one,'' winning pitcher Pete Schourek said. ''We have a chance to sweep them tomorrow. Games 1 and 3 are the most pivotal in a five-game series. We made a big step getting this first one.''

''We came here trying to win both games. We weren't going to be happy with a split here,'' outfielder Thomas Howard said.

The Reds scored four runs in the first inning on a two-run double by Hal Morris and a two-run homer by Benito Santiago, opened a 7-0 lead in the fifth and kept a crowd of 44,199 about 10,000 short of capacity hushed the rest of the way.

Schourek, an 18-game winner appearing in his first career postseason game, limited the Dodgers to five hits and two runs in seven innings while walking three and striking out five.

''I had some butterflies,'' Schourek said, smiling. ''The four-run first kind of helped.''

Barry Larkin and Ron Gant hit one-out singles in the first before Reggie Sanders fouled out. Morris then sliced a 1-2 pitch to the left-center field gap and Santiago hit a 2-1 pitch into the left-field seats.

''It's tough to come back from that,'' Larkin said. ''We want the home field advantage (which they already have), and the only way to have the home field advantage is to go home with at least one win. Hopefully, now we can get two wins and really have home field advantage.''

The big first inning sent a quick message the Reds made it clear their shaky play during the season's final month, especially on natural grass, meant nothing.

They had lost 10 in a row on grass and 18 of their last 31 overall during the regular season.

''The last two times we were in the postseason, we won the last two games in Oakland (on natural grass in the 1990 World Series),'' Larkin said. ''You can take those stats and do what you want to do with them.''

Schourek, 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA against the Dodgers this season, allowed only three baserunners in the first four innings and was pitching with a 7-0 lead when he finally allowed a run in the sixth.

''I made a couple bad pitches and it cost me four runs,'' losing pitcher Ramon Martinez said. ''I was throwing the ball good, but my pitches were high. The fly ball (by Morris), I thought that would be caught for the third out.''

But it wasn't. By the time the top of the first ended, the Reds had all the runs they would need.

''We had two outs and we had two strikes on the hitter (Morris),'' manager Tom Lasorda said. ''Then they scored four runs. That hurt us a great deal.

''Martinez had been pitching good. Unfortunately, it was one of those nights. What I told him in the clubhouse was, 'Don't hang your head, it's a best-of-5 series.' We've got to come out tomorrow and get a win.''

The Reds extended their lead to 7-0 in the fifth. Sanders doubled, took third on a single by Morris his third hit and scored on a sacrifice fly by Santiago.

Bret Boone followed with a double to knock out Martinez and Jeff Branson greeted reliever John Cummings with a two-run double.

Martinez allowed 10 hits and seven runs, all earned, while walking two and striking out three in 4 1-3 innings. He was appearing in a postseason game for the first time, too, but he wasn't as fortunate as Schourek was.

Martinez had his personal six-game winning streak against Cincinnati snapped, and his 10 victories in his last 11 decisions meant as little as the Reds' 10-game losing streak on grass.

Read Next Article