CINCINNATI, AUG. 11 -- Good grief. Has it really been 11 years since we saw Joe Morgan kiss his Cincinnati uniform goodbye -- and since the Reds last won so much as a division title? Fourteen years since Morgan MVP'd the Reds to their last National League pennant? And world championship?

And can it be that the famine isn't yet about to end?

The San Francisco Giants' 4-2 victory over the Reds tonight in the second game of a crucial four-game NL West series, on Joe Morgan Night, made you wonder more than ever.

Sure, there are 50 games to go, but once more the Giants have cut what once was a 14 1/2-game gap to 4 1/2. Two big runs were batted in by Will Clark, who ended a famine of his own by homering for the first time in his last 125 at-bats.

Morgan made the honorary first pitch to Hall of Fame predecessor Johnny Bench, but what turned out to be the biggest pitch was the one from Jose Rijo that pinch hitter Ernest Riles hit for a tie-breaking sixth-inning single that stood up for rookie John Burkett's 11th victory in 15 decisions.

Riles was batting for Burkett, and relievers Mike LaCoss -- yes, he's back -- and Jeff Brantley finished his job.

Rijo (8-5) had two outs and a 2-1 count on Clark in the first inning when Clark, who had a 10-game hitting streak end Friday, went to the opposite field -- and over the fence, 387 feet from home. That 1-0 lead became 2-0 when Kevin Mitchell roped the next pitch for a long single to left, Matt Williams was hit by a pitch and Gary Carter scored Mitchell with a single to center.

Burkett retired the first four Reds, two on strikeouts, but Hal Morris got his 52nd hit in 125 at-bats (.416) since his June recall from Nashville, and it was a towering homer to right-center.

Rijo held San Francisco hitless the next four innings, and the Reds caught up at 2 in the fifth. They'd left the bases full in the fourth -- after the Giants intentionally walked Morris with runners on second and third and one out. They wasted a double by Chris Sabo as Mariano Duncan and Jeff Reed made the bases-loaded outs, but they put two more doubles to good use.

Billy Hatcher led off the fifth with one to left-center, and after Rijo sacrificed, Barry Larkin hit one off the left-center fence. Paul O'Neill and Sabo each hit long fouls, but Burkett got them out.

Larkin's big hit was all the more remarkable because the previous inning Clark submarined him on a force play at second base. Play was halted several minutes while Larkin was attended to.

He stayed in the game long enough to get his productive at-bat, but the .311-hitting all-star didn't take the field in the sixth. It was announced a bit later that he had a "mild to moderate hyperextension sprain of the left knee." He will be examined further Sunday.

Asked if he felt the play exempified Clark's hellbent brand of play, Reds Manager Lou Piniella said: "It was a standing block. I'm going to look at the replays tomorrow, but if he hit him before the bag -- they weren't going to get a double play . . . but, you know Will Clark plays hard. In the American League that would have been called a double play {for interference}. Do they allow stand-up blocking in this league? They don't in the AL."

Clark called it a "good, hard, aggressive slide."

Duncan moved to short, with Ron Oester playing second.

The Giants regained the lead in the sixth. Robby Thompson sent a one-out double to the right field corner, and with two out Riles lined a first-pitch single.

LaCoss, in his first appearance since April 26, was sent out to protect the 3-2 edge and worked two scoreless innings. Brantley replaced him to start the eighth.

Clark provided insurance for Brantley's 17th save with a sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Marge Schott, the team owner, addressed the team in the clubhouse before Friday night's victory, and Eric Davis said she struck the right chord.

She showed the players a video of her younger sister, Winnie, a paraplegic who has become an accomplished rifle shooter. "It's an inspiration to see someone less fortunate than you who's still striving to do something positive," said Davis, a star struggling through an off season.

It was Schott's first pregame visit with the players this season.

Tonight she introduced Morgan in the pregame ceremony honoring him as the city's newest Hall-of-Famer. It was a quick transition from good vibrations -- the Friday game was followed by a Beach Boys concert -- to glory days.

And before the game, Piniella saw no reason the trend wouldn't continue. With a team in first place since Day 1 of the season, he never-minded the Reds' recent slump and the doomsayers. "We are capable" of winning the NL West wire to wire, he said. "We should be all right."

"Tell you what," said the Reds' manager, "we got the right four pitchers going in this series."

This was in the afterglow of left-hander Norm Charlton's series-opening, three-hit shutout, and with left-handers Tom Browning (11-6) set for Sunday and Danny Jackson, a siege of arm trouble behind him, penciled in for Monday.

After all, the Reds were leading the league in ERA (3.26) and tied for second in batting (.266).

And the Giants had become not-so-hot pursuers of late, losing of five of seven before tonight.