Cleveland's bullpen couldn't hold a 3-0 lead in interleague play againstthe Reds.
By TOM WILLIAMS
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
CLEVELAND -- Lately, the Indians bullpen has excelled when trusted with a lead, recording 17 saves in 19 chances.
That streak of good fortune ended Friday at Jacobs Field when Tribe relievers imploded against their cross-state rivals, the Cincinnati Reds.
Cleveland squandered a 3-0 lead in a 7-4 loss that saw former Indians Bill Selby, Jim Brower and Danny Graves shine for the fifth-place Reds of the National League Central Division.
Selby's two-run homer in the sixth inning off reliever Steve Reed put the Reds ahead, 4-3, and swung momentum in their favor.
"Selby's home run took the starch out of us," Indians manager Charlie Manuel said. "Things kind of got real quiet. They got the big hits at the right time and we didn't execute."
Third straight: Selby said the Reds' third straight win "is huge for us because we haven't been swinging the bats real well. They [the Indians] are probably the best team in baseball, from their bullpen, their starting pitching, their hitting.
"We had good pitching, but tonight it felt good to hit the ball well," the second baseman said.
Right fielder Alex Ochoa also sparked the Reds with four hits, three RBIs and two runs scored.
Charles Nagy, making his first start at home since coming off a year-long stint on the disabled list, was staked to a 3-0 lead, but didn't survive the sixth inning.
"I got away from throwing my fastball," said Nagy, adding that he had trouble controlling his breaking pitches.
"He threw a lot of good breaking balls, but he didn't get [strike calls]," Manuel said. "I'm not saying the umpire was wrong, but that's how he [Terry Craft] called the game."
Nagy's night ended shortly after Ochoa led off the sixth inning with a double down the left-field line.
A passed ball assessed to catcher Einar Diaz gave Ochoa third base, and he scored the Reds' second run on Sean Casey's groundout.
Dmitri Young singled to send Nagy to the bench and Reed to the mound. With two outs, Selby hit his first major-league homer in five years to put the Reds ahead.
Selby, who spent most of last year with the Indians' Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, played 30 games for the Indians, then signed with the Reds as a free agent.
Knowing Reed's ability to throw sinkers, the 30-year-old infielder said, "I was just looking for a pitch up. He threw a breaking ball in there and it caught more of the plate than I think he wanted it to.
"I got a good piece of it; I was just hoping it would stay fair because it hooked a little bit."
Burks homers: Ellis Burks' 14th homer of the season, the 299th of his career, tied the score at 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning.
The Reds went ahead for keeps in the seventh inning when Brady Clark, pinch-hitting for Deion Sanders, singled off losing pitcher Rich Rodriguez (2-2).
Clark stole second base and scored on Ochoa's single up the middle off Paul Shuey.
In the ninth inning, Ochoa connected for his second double of the game. This one came against Steve Woodard and brought home Pokey Reese and Michael Tucker.
A walk, two hits, a sacrifice fly and a bad throw from the outfield produced the Indians' first two runs.
With one out in the second inning, Travis Fryman walked and took third base on Wil Cordero's base hit. Cordero ended up at second base when center fielder Ruben Rivera's throw to third base soared.
Russell Branyan's sacrifice fly scored Fryman for a 1-0 Indians lead. Diaz's two-out single brought in Cordero.
The lead grew to 3-0 on Roberto Alomar's solo homer in the third inning.
Brower, who was traded to the Reds for catcher Eddie Taubensee last November, relieved starter Rob Bell in the third inning.
The 28-year-old right-hander pitched three-and-a-third innings to get the win and improve to 3-3.
The Reds scored their first run in the fourth inning when Young's two-out double plated Ochoa.
Graves retired three batters in the ninth inning for his 14th save.