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Whitson’s Return Some Consolation : Baseball: Padres fall to the Cincinnati Reds, 8-1. Manager Greg Riddoch was pleased with pitcher’s first game action since an operation.

From Associated Press

Hal Morris padded his National League-leading batting average and Ed Whitson returned to the mound.

Both teams found something to their liking in the Cincinnati Reds’ 8-1 victory Sunday over the Padres.

Whitson, making his first appearance since elbow surgery July 15, gave up hits to the five batters he faced, but Padre Manager Greg Riddoch was happy about the way the elbow responded.

“The big thing was how his arm feels,” Riddoch said. “His arm was fine. He made some good pitches and had good movement on the ball.”

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Morris was two for four and drove in a run to increase his average a point to .320. His two singles figured prominently in the Reds’ come-from-behind victory--the first helped load the bases for a four-run sixth inning, and the other drove in one of three runs off Whitson in the seventh.

After starting the day zero for two, Morris was in danger of falling out of the batting lead. The two hits propped up his average, but failed to get him thinking about a possible batting title.

“I don’t think about it. If you do think about it--if you think of anything when you hit--you’re going to have problems,” Morris said. “When you start to press, that’s when you go into slumps. I’m trying not to think about anything.”

His hitting helped pull the Reds out of their recent slump. They’d lost the first two games of the series to San Diego and 10 of their last 14 overall, leaving them with a losing record for the season.

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The Reds trailed 1-0 before putting together a rally in the sixth with a little help from the Padre fielders. Shortstop Craig Shipley’s fielding error set up four unearned runs off Ricky Bones (4-6), who lost his third consecutive start.

Benito Santiago singled home a run in the first inning and Bones allowed just two hits over the first five innings to hold the lead.

Cincinnati loaded the bases with one out in the sixth on singles by Mariano Duncan and Morris and Shipley’s fielding error on a grounder by Barry Larkin. Paul O’Neill’s first sacrifice fly in 582 plate appearances this season tied it, and Chris Sabo pulled the third pitch from Bones for his career-high 26th homer.

“Ricky pitched a great game,” Riddoch said. “We just didn’t catch the ball for him when we had to.”

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The Reds added three runs in the seventh off Whitson. Bill Doran doubled home a run and Morris and Larkin had RBI singles.

The Reds added a run in the eighth on Jeff Reed’s second triple of the game. Ted Power (5-3) pitched one perfect inning in relief of Gino Minutelli to get the win, and Rob Dibble closed the game with a pair of strikeouts.


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