Although some of its key parts are on the blink, the Big Red machine is by no means ready for the scrap heap.

The Cincinnati Reds, pre-season pick by most baseball followers to win the National League West title, are playing with two of their best players, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan, sidelined with injuries, but remain in close contention.

Led by George Foster and pitchers Bill Bonham and Manny Sarmiento, the Reds downed the division-leading San Francisco giants, 5-0, Thursday night to move within one game of first place.

Foster drove in two runs with two singles and Bonham and Sarmiento combined on a three-hitter carrying the Reds to their second triumph in the three-game series with the Giants.

"If we keep winning, we'll be all right," Foster said. "We're starting to play good ball and we're close enough to keep the pressure on the giants."

Bonham, sidelined earlier this season with a sore elbow, gave up only two hits in 6 2/3 innings and posted his eighth triumph in nine decisions. Sarmiento took over in the seventh and allowed only one hit the rest of the way. Sarmiento also took over the NL lead in earned run average with 1.94.

"(Cincinnati manager) Spark Anderson felt he had a better man to bring in, and I don't have any ego problems," Bonham said about being replaced by Sarmiento.