08/09/2002 10:30 PM ET
Boone's bombs doom Padres
Three dingers lift Cincy over San Diego in slugfest
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Aaron Boone belted three home runs, including a record-tying two in the first inning, to awaken the Cincinnati Reds' offense and spark them to a 12-10 victory Friday night over the San Diego Padres.
The Reds (59-55), who scored 11 runs while losing all three games of their previous series at Colorado, nearly matched that output in the first inning alone by scoring nine. That was the Reds' most in an inning since Sept. 4, 1999, when they amassed nine in the fifth inning at Philadelphia. Cincinnati's 14 hits against the Padres fell one short of its total for the Colorado series.
Boone became the 40th player in Major League history to homer twice in one inning when he opened and closed Cincinnati's first-inning scoring with a pair of two-run shots off former teammate Brett Tomko. The third baseman was the 22nd player in National League history to accomplish the two-homer feat.
Five players homered twice in an inning earlier this season: Seattle's Bret Boone -- Aaron's brother -- and Mike Cameron, both in the first inning at Chicago on May 2; Tampa Bay's Jared Sandberg, in the fifth inning against Los Angeles on May 11; Boston's Nomar Garciaparra, in the third inning against Tampa Bay on July 23; and Texas' Carl Everett, in the seventh inning against Oakland on July 26.
Boone added his final homer of the game in the fourth inning, a one-out clout off Tomko. He became the second Red this season to hit a franchise-record three homers in a game. Russell Branyan also homered three times last Sunday at San Diego.
With a Major League-record four homers in his sights, Boone struck out in the sixth inning and dribbled an infield single in the eighth. His four hits and five RBIs matched personal bests.
Neither starting pitcher lasted long. Cincinnati's Jared Fernandez failed to capitalize on his offensive windfall. He left after three innings, having allowed five runs and seven hits while walking four. Tomko (5-8) worked 3 1/3 innings and surrendered 10 runs and nine hits, including all of Boone's homers and another by Jason LaRue.
John Riedling (1-1), the second of four Cincinnati relievers, pitched two perfect innings to earn the decision. He was the only Reds pitchers to emerge unscathed, as the Padres continued to chip away at their early 9-1 deficit.
Cincinnati, which entered Friday trailing first-place St. Louis by three games in the NL Central and Wild Card leader Los Angeles by five games, improved its Cinergy Field record to 28-27, exceeding its 2001 victory total of 27. The Reds have won five of their last six home games.
After the Padres (48-67) opened the scoring on doubles by Trenidad Hubbard and Phil Nevin, Todd Walker christened the Reds' big first with a single to center field. Up came Boone, who belted the first pitch he saw over the left-field barrier.
Tomko walked Ken Griffey Jr. before Austin Kearns laced a one-out double. Sean Casey, playing his first game since leaving the disabled list, stroked a two-run single. Casey went to second on the throw home, then scored on Barry Larkin's single. LaRue drilled his seventh homer of the season to widen Cincinnati's lead to 7-1.
Boone's next at-bat came with two outs in the inning and Reds starter Jared Fernandez aboard via a walk. Boone again cleared the left-field wall, connecting on Tomko's 0-1 pitch. This was a familiar fate for Tomko, who allowed 31 homers in 172 innings in 1999, his last of three seasons as a Red. He surrendered three homers in the first inning against the New York Mets in a June 15 game that year.
The Padres responded with three runs in the second inning, loading the bases with nobody out on Deivi Cruz's single and two walks. Ramon Vazquez singled home a run, Ryan Klesko's fielder's-choice grounder scored another run and Nevin added an RBI single.
Cruz singled again with one out in the third, advanced to third base on two passed balls and scored on Hubbard's single, narrowing the difference to 9-5. San Diego actually sent the potential tying run to the plate by loading the bases on a walk to Vazquez, but Fernandez coaxed a groundout from Klesko.
Boone's third homer, a one-out blast in the fourth, hiked his season total to 21 and Cincinnati's lead to 10-5. San Diego responded with Tom Lampkin's leadoff homer in the fifth. The Reds then struck for two more runs in the sixth off reliever Kevin Walker. Todd Walker doubled and came around to score on a passed ball and a wild pitch; Adam Dunn doubled and scored on Kearns' single.
Nevin's groundout with runners on second and third and one out in the eighth inning accounted for his third RBI. Cruz's third single and Eugene Kingsale's RBI double started San Diego's three-run ninth off reliever Scott Sullivan, which continued with Mark Kotsay's pinch-hit, two-run homer. Sullivan then retired Vazquez on a grounder to first base to end the game.
Chris Haft covers the Reds for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.