Kearns Homers in Return

avier Valentin's pinch-hit, two-run homer in
the eighth inning rallied the Cincinnati Reds to an 8-7 victory
Monday over the Washington Nationals, who suffered their biggest
blown lead of the season.
Valentin's homer off Jon Rauch (2-1) was set up by a misplay
characteristic of the NL's worst team. Center fielder Nook Logan
and right fielder Austin Kearns let Scott Hatteberg's fly drop for
an RBI double ahead of Valentin's homer.
Jon Coutlangus (2-0) retired the four batters he faced, and
David Weathers finished for his ninth save in 10 chances.
Hatteberg homered and double twice, driving in four runs as the
Reds overcame a six-run deficit. Ken Griffey Jr. added a solo
homer, the 572nd of his career. Griffey is one behind Harmon
Killebrew for eight place on the list.
Second baseman Brandon Phillips went 0-for-4, ending his hitting
streak at 22 games. It was the longest streak in the NL this season
and the longest by a Reds batter since 1996, when Hal Morris hit in
29 straight.
The Nationals got up 6-0 in the second inning, but their usually
dependable bullpen let them down.
The game united the NL's two worst teams of this season, and
reunited players involved in one of last season's biggest trades -
one that's disputed to this day. The Nationals are last in the NL
East, with the Reds at the bottom of the NL Central.
They're also linked by a grievance.
Washington got Kearns and shortstop Felipe Lopez in an
eight-player deal with the Reds last July 13. The Reds filed a
grievance this month claiming that general manager Jim Bowden - who
was fired in Cincinnati in 2003 - failed to fully inform them about
Gary Majewski's sore pitching shoulder before the trade.
The teams hadn't played since the deal. Lopez and Kearns had
roles in getting the Nationals off to the 6-0 lead in their
With his game-opening single, Lopez started one of Washington's
biggest rallies of the season. The Nationals sent 10 batters to the
plate in a 20-minute, 49-pitch inning against Bronson Arroyo, who
lasted only two innings.
Dmitri Young doubled home a pair of runs during the four-run
rally, and singled ahead of Kearns' homer in the second inning for
a 6-0 lead - big stuff for a team that hasn't scored more than
seven runs in any game this season.
As usual, the Nationals didn't deal well with prosperity. Rookie
Levale Speigner gave up five runs in three innings, including
Hatteberg's two-run homer and Griffey's solo shot in the third.
Speigner opened the season in long relief, and is trying to help
the Nationals' injury-depleted rotation.
Notes: Since he returned to his accustomed spot at third in the
batting order on May 3, Griffey has hit seven of his nine homers.
He batted fourth or fifth early in the season. ... Speigner was the
364th pitcher to allow a homer by Griffey. ... LF Ryan Church was
out of the Nationals' lineup, a day after he was hit on the left
forearm by a pitch. The injury isn't serious. ... Reds OF Josh
Hamilton celebrated his 26th birthday on Monday without the
traditional fare. "I don't think I'll be eating any birthday
cake," he said. He was hospitalized in Cleveland on Saturday for
an inflamed digestive system.