CINCINNATI, AUG. 12 -- Schottzie's team! She did it all!" Reds owner and dog lover Marge Schott proclaimed at the end of today's 6-4 Cincinnati victory that put the San Francisco Giants at bay in the National League West title hunt. But it's a human St. Bernard who's truly come to the front-runners' rescue.

Hal Morris just keeps hitting, and after his perfect day today it seemed he could be the Red to carry the team to its first division flag in 11 years. They now have a 2-1 edge in the key four-game series the Giants projected as their time to climb, and have reopened a 5 1/2-game lead.

Morris, a rookie, contributed an RBI single to a four-run first inning, a solo home run after the Giants closed to 4-3 in the third, then was walked twice. He even hurt the defending champions when they put him on intentionally, leaving his day's batting line at 2 2 2 2. So while there's been a natural tail-off in all those stratospheric batting averages other Reds sprouted in getting the team off to its sensational 23-7 season start, Morris stays on an unnatural tear.

The first baseman-outfielder the New York Yankees traded in the offseason for pitcher Tim Leary in fact didn't stick with the Reds early in the season. But since his June 18 recall from Class AAA Nashville, bingo. As in 55 for 129, which equals .426 and puts his overall average at .393.

And another Yankees' discard, Lou Piniella, is loving it.

The former New York manager stoked the big inning with a lineup twist that clicked to the benefit of left-hander Tom Browning (12-6). Piniella moved laboring cleanup hitter Eric Davis to leadoff -- Davis's first appearance there since the last day of the 1986 season -- and dropped Barry Larkin to third.

The Reds figured they needed a different look to confront Scott Garrelts, who on July 29 had a no-hitter until two out in the ninth and beat them, 4-0. Today Davis killed the no-hitter on his second swing, grounding a single to left.

Davis said the only difference between the pitcher he faced in the near no-hitter at Candlestick and today's starter "was there was no 20 mile an hour wind blowing in here."

That brought up Paul O'Neill, who had spoiled the no-hit bid in San Francisco. O'Neill grounded a single to center. Next Larkin worked to a 2-0 count that caused pitching coach Norm Sherry to walk out to talk to Garrelts. Larkin drove the next pitch off the left field wall for a double, scoring Davis.

Garrelts hit Todd Benzinger with a pitch, filling the bases for Morris. He worked the count to 3-2, then looped a hit over shortstop to make it 2-0.

Chris Sabo rapped into a third-home-first double play, but Mariano Duncan beat out a chop to third for an RBI single and Joe Oliver lined a run-scoring hit to left.

In four more innings Garrelts (9-9), left in by Manager Roger Craig, yielded nothing more than Morris's sixth homer.

Robby Thompson homered in the second and the Giants mounted a two-run third that threatened to be more, but Browning bulldogged through it. There were singles by Brett Butler and Will Clark, an RBI ground-rule double by Kevin Mitchell, and, after an intentional walk to Matt Williams, a sacrifice fly by Gary Carter. But there were no more runs off Browning -- now 31-7 against the NL West since late 1987 (including 12-0 in '88) -- before Piniella turned the lead over to Rob Dibble and Randy Myers, who earned his 23rd save.

Dibble was nicked for a run in the eighth after Craig protested that he was going to his mouth (Dibble and Piniella said he was just wiping sweat off his brow). But by then it was 6-3, thanks to a two-out triple by Benzinger, the intentional pass to Morris and Sabo's RBI single.

Myers then mowed down the Giants' heart -- Clark (strikeout), Mitchell (comebacker) and Williams (strikeout), and the focus returned to the day's batting hero.

"I'm just a contact hitter and I just try to put the ball in play," Morris said. "Some balls went through today. We're not playing scared {as many had accused the Reds during the 5-14 slump they carried into today's game}. We play the same every day."

The 1989 International League batting champion (.326 at Columbus) said he followed the same philosophy after the Yankees traded him. "I was happy to be moving closer to home," he said. "That's Indiana, and my folks and friends were here today" helping push the day's attendance to 40,134 after a Reds season-high 49,780 Saturday night.

And when the Reds sent him down this season?

"The other guys were going so well, and I wasn't after missing so much spring training {in the lockout}. I really needed the at-bats. . . . For a while I had a loop in my swing, but I do regular drills every day, and Lou and Tony {Perez, batting coach} worked with me . . . and now it's just one of those periods where you're more lucky than good."