Until Sean Casey's final swing, it was a long and frustrating day for Cincinnati.
That last swing changed it into a long and successful day.
Hitless in his first five at-bats, Casey hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th inning for a 4-3 victory yesterday over the visiting Montreal Expos and another winning series.
There was more relief than celebration when Mike Cameron crossed the plate on Casey's fly out to deep left field, moving the Reds to a half-game behind Houston in the NL Central.
"It was just an exhausting day," said Casey, who lacked his usual exuberance afterward. "It was an emotional day, a back-and-forth day. It was a great win."
The Reds took two of three from Montreal and have won their last nine series since July 23, the longest streak in the majors this season. The New York Mets won eight in a row.
"It's pretty amazing," Reds Manager Jack McKeon said. "It's tough to sweep a series. You've got to be thinking two-of-three or three-of-four, but that's tough."
DIAMONDBACKS 7, PIRATES 5: The way Arizona is homering -- and winning -- away from Phoenix, there is no such thing as a home-field advantage for their opponents.
Luis Gonzalez, Matt Williams and Erubiel Durazo hit consecutive homers in Arizona's five-run first inning against Jason Schmidt in Pittsburgh.
Gonzalez added a solo homer in the ninth off Jose Silva -- his third homer in three games -- and drove in four runs. Omar Daal (13-6) withstood a four-run third inning for his 10th victory in 12 decisions.
DODGERS 9, PHILLIES 7: Gary Sheffield got even in a big way.
Angry after being brushed back in his previous at-bat, the slugger hit a pivotal grand slam in the sixth inning that helped Los Angeles win at Veterans Stadium.
"There was a lot of anger built up in me for that at-bat," Sheffield said. "I'm not going to hit a ball that far unless there's some anger inside me."
Sheffield finished with two hits and drove in a season-high six RBI as the Dodgers took two of three in the series.
BRAVES 3, PADRES 2: Terry Mulholland pitched eight strong innings before Brian Jordan drove in the winning run in the ninth with a one-out single as Atlanta completed a three-game sweep of visiting San Diego.
"My confidence is high right now," said Mulholland, who was acquired from the Chicago Cubs just before the July 31 trade deadline. "I love being out there for a challenge. Whatever it takes, I'll do it."
ROCKIES 3, CUBS 2: Larry Walker hit his 33rd home run while Colorado kept Sammy Sosa in the park in Chicago.
Sosa hit two home runs Friday and Saturday at Wrigley Field to raise his major league-leading total to 51. He went 1 for 3 with a single.
Walker, the NL's leading hitter at .358, connected with one out in the sixth inning. Dante Bichette added a two-run single in the eighth as Colorado won for the seventh time in 10 games.
GIANTS 7, BREWERS 3: Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent and Ellis Burks connected for consecutive homers in the first inning -- the second time in three days San Francisco hit three in a row -- in Milwaukee.
Kent homered in his first at-bat since coming off the disabled list as the Giants completed a three-game sweep.
After Bill Mueller singled, Bonds began the barrage with his 22nd home run. Kent followed with his 14th, and Burks hit his 24th.
ASTROS-MARLINS, PPD.: The game in Miami was rained out. Because the teams do not meet again this season in Florida, the game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Friday when the Marlins start a series at the Astrodome. The starting time has yet to be announced.