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Marlins' new starter stifles Reds

Associated Press
Published May 27, 2004

CINCINNATI - Tommy Phelps kept the lineup card from his first start in Cincinnati, the one that brought his first win and changed his team's direction.

His second start at Great American Ball Park also was suitable for framing.

Phelps held the surging Reds to one double over seven innings Wednesday, leading the Florida Marlins to a 3-0 victory that ended Cincinnati's winning streak at seven games.

For the second season in a row, Phelps got an unexpected chance to start and surpassed all expectations.

"He was great," catcher Mark Redmond said. "He was the MVP of that game."

The Reds were held to one hit for the first time since Sept. 26, 2001, when Philadelphia's Randy Wolf beat them 8-0. It seemed it was going to take something extraordinary to end their roll, and Phelps and the Marlins were up to it.

Hee Seop Choi hit his fourth homer in his past five games against the Reds, who lead the NL Central and have the league's best record after a late-May surge.

Phelps took care of the rest, handling the heart of the Reds order with ease. Ken Griffey went 0-for-3 against the left-hander, ending his homer streak at three games.

"He shut us down and kept us off-balance," Casey said. "I remember that from last year. It was like, "Who's Tommy Phelps?' and before you know it, he shut us down."

Phelps got the Marlins started on their playoff surge last season at Cincinnati. He made his first major-league start May 23 and got his first win, an 8-4 victory that was the beginning of Florida's turnaround.

Phelps kept the lineup card from that game - it's framed at his house - and tried not to think about it too much when he returned.

"I didn't want it to be a big issue," Phelps said.

It turned out to be better than the first one. Phelps kept it simple, letting Redmond call the pitches and run the game.

"I told him before the game, "Put your glove where you want it and I'll try my best to hit it,' " Phelps said.

He got the opportunity to start when Darren Oliver was demoted to the bullpen. Phelps allowed two walks and Sean Casey's double just inside first base in the fourth.

Matt Perisho got the first two outs in the eighth, and Armando Benitez finished for his 17th save in 18 chances. He hasn't allowed an earned run since Montreal's Jose Vidro homered on opening day.

Benitez's streak of 252/3 innings without an earned run is two outs shy of Luis Aquino's club record in 1994.

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