Reds squeak by L.A. to take 2-0 lead

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES It was Giveaway Night at Dodger Stadium, only the fans didn't receive a thing. Instead, the Cincinnati Reds were the recipients.

Every run Cincinnati scored came with some help from Los Angeles and the Reds were outhit 14-6, but they beat the Dodgers 5-4 last night to take a 2-0 lead in their NL playoff series.

Eric Karros homered twice, doubled and drove in all four Los Angeles runs. But the Dodgers could not overcome a key error, a botched pitchout and three ninth-inning walks that led to two runs runs the Reds would need to win.

The Dodgers also lost right fielder Raul Mondesi, ejected after the seventh inning.

''By all rights, we shouldn't have won this game,'' Reds manager Davey Johnson said. ''But we weren't going to be denied. (Barry) Larkin got the key hit and he's done that a lot.''

Karros hit a two-run homer with one out in the ninth to make it 5-4. But Jeff Brantley retired Tim Wallach and Delino DeShields to earn a save.

Cincinnati's first two runs, on a homer by Reggie Sanders, were set up by a throwing error by shortstop Chad Fonville. Then, with the score 2-2, a wide throw by catcher Mike Piazza on a pitchout led to the go-ahead run, driven in on a two-out single by Larkin in the eighth.

''We've just got to come back now, pull an upset and win three straight games,'' Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda said. ''We had our chances tonight, we left a lot of runners on base. We just didn't win it. We gave them the first two runs.''

The Reds added their two runs in the ninth on only one hit, a two-out RBI single by Mariano Duncan, who scored an inning earlier on Larkin's hit.

The Reds used three walks, three stolen bases, an RBI grounder by Mark Lewis and Duncan's hit to score the two runs, which were charged to Kevin Tapani. Duncan came into the game in the seventh in a double-switch situation.

''I know my situation here,'' Duncan said. ''I know I don't play every day, but at the same time, I've got to be ready every day.

''We have one team on the field and another team on the bench.''

The rest of the best-of-5 series is in Cincinnati, starting with Game 3 tomorrow night. Hideo Nomo (13-6, 2.54 ERA) will pitch for the Dodgers against David Wells (6-5, 3.59 ERA).

The game was played before a paid crowd of 46,051 about 10,000 below a sellout. A crowd of 44,199 attended Tuesday night's game, won by the Reds 7-2.

This game was one of missed opportunities for the Dodgers. They had 14 hits four by Fonville and stranded 11 runners, eight of them in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Piazza, second in the NL with a .346 average, finished 0-for-5.

They also missed Mondesi, ejected by umpire Bob Davidson after the seventh. Mondesi was the on-deck hitter when DeShields fouled out with the bases loaded to end the inning, and was tossed for apparently remarking to Davidson.

Duncan singled with one out in the eighth off loser Antonio Osuna. With Larkin batting, Duncan stole second on an 0-2 pitch, beating Piazza's wide throw. Larkin followed by looping a single down the right-field line.

Dave Burba, the second of four Cincinnati pitchers, earned the victory with one scoreless inning of relief.

Dodgers starter Ismael Valdes retired the first 11 batters before Ron Gant reached second with two outs in the fourth on a wild throw by Fonville.

Sanders made the Dodgers pay for the mistake with a home run to center for a 2-1 lead. Fonville took over at shortstop in the last month for All-Star Jose Offerman, who made 35 errors.

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