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Updated: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 1:50 AM EDT
MLB RECAP
Cincinnati Reds
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
12 17 2
Pittsburgh Pirates
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
4 9 2
W Harang (4-2)
L Perez (4-9)
S Reith (1)
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CINCINNATI 12, PITTSBURGH 4
 

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Rookie Ryan Freel returned from a hamstring injury and attempted to make up for lost time.

Freel collected a career-high four hits, drove in three runs and scored three times and D'Angelo Jimenez had three hits and three RBI, leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 12-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates .

Freel had not played since suffering a strained right hamstring on September 2.

"I was a little nervous," he said. "I hadn't seen live pitching for a couple of weeks. I was just trying to hit the ball up the middle. It's been really frustrating sitting on the bench. Just glad to get back out and get to play again."

The 27-year-old belted his fourth homer of the season off Pirates starter Oliver Perez (4-9) in the fifth inning to give Cincinnati a 4-1 lead and his two-run single in the ninth capped the scoring.

"I was able to get a couple of good pitches to hit, trying to stay with my game plan," Freel said. "Every day I'm just thrilled to be able to put a jersey on in the major leagues. I'm still living it up. This is something I've dreamed of. To do something this good is pretty overwhelming."

Jimenez had an RBI triple in the seventh inning that put the Reds ahead, 5-2, and highlighted a five-run eighth with a two-run base hit that pushed their advantage to five runs. He is batting .319 (31-for-97) with 20 RBI in his last 31 games.

Wily Mo Pena homered and drove in two runs for the Reds, who improved to 2-3 on their 10-game road trip.

Also returning from an injury, Aaron Harang (4-2) allowed two runs and four hits in five innings to pick up the win. Harang had to leave his start on September 5 in the second inning with a lower back strain.

"They said they didn't want to let me go any longer," said Harang, who threw 74 pitches. "I feel pretty good now. There was a little tightness, no pain really. With the lead, you can relax. I just tried to make sure I didn't do anything to re-injure my back."

Brian Reith , who entered with a 5-4 lead, tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings to notch his first major league save.

Perez gave up four runs and eight hits in five innings and was tagged with the loss.

"I went out and did my best," the 22-year-old lefthander said through an interpreter. "I just couldn't always get the ball where I wanted to."

"Certainly Oliver didn't have his best stuff," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "There's going to be growing pains. You know, you're going to have that with a young pitcher, that's part of it. You keep throwing them out there, that's how they get better."

Reggie Sanders , Rob Mackowiak and Jack Wilson each drove in a run, but the Pirates lost for the fourth time in their last 12 home games.

Sanders opened the scoring with a run-scoring single, but Pena smacked his fourth homer of the season in the second to tie. Sean Casey and Pena added RBI singles in the third for a 3-1 lead.

After Jimenez gave Cincinnati a three-run advantage with his triple in the seventh, the Pirates tallied twice in the bottom of the inning off Reds reliever John Reidling on Rob Mackowiak 's RBI triple and a run-scoring single by Jack Wilson to pull within 5-4.

Cincinnati's Dave Miley was ejected for the first time in his major league managerial career during the inning when Craig Wilson was safe on a clay play at the plate.

However, the Reds scored seven runs over the last two innings to reach double-digits for only the second time in their last 54 games.


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