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Lohse, Reds top Marlins, keep slim playoff hopes alive

Sep 29, 2006 - 2:12 AM MIAMI (Ticker) -- With slim playoff hopes, the Cincinnati Reds held up their end of the bargain.

Kyle Lohse pitched six effective innings and hit a two-run double and Javier Valentin had two hits and an RBI as the Reds posted a 5-1 victory over the Florida Marlins.

With the win, Cincinnati (79-80) stayed alive, moving within 2 1/2 games of fading St. Louis (81-77) in the National League Central Division with three games remaining. A St. Louis victory on Thursday against Milwaukee would have eliminated the Reds from playoff contention, but the Cardinals continued their horrid play, losing 9-4.

"We just have to win and see what happens," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "Just try to win every game, that's all we can do."

Lohse (3-5) allowed one run and three hits, striking out five and walking three. He has struggled in his previous five starts, going 1-4 with a 7.66 ERA, but turned it around on Thursday.

Lohse came to the Reds in a July 31 trade with the Minnesota Twins where he had pitched as a reliever after returning from a rehabilitation stint on June 9.

"Every start that I've had since coming over here has meant a lot," Lohse said. "I've been through the pennant races before and that kind of helps. Maybe I've put a little too much pressure on myself the last couple of starts. I just went out there tonight and kept the ball down and tried to relax."

Lohse helped himself with the bat as well. With two runners on in the sixth, he lined a two-run double off rookie Ricky Nolasco (11-11) to give Cincinnati a 5-1 lead.

The Reds opened the scoring in the first with the help of some shaky Marlins defense. With the bases loaded, Valentin grounded into a forceout, but second baseman's Dan Uggla's relay throw to first base was wild and two runs scored.

Nolasco yielded five runs and seven hits in six innings, striking out five and walking three.

Miguel Cabrera had two hits and an RBI for the Marlins, raising his average to .340, but he still trails Pittsburgh's Freddy Sanchez by .004 in the race for the National League batting crown.

Marlins first baseman Mike Jacobs left the team after the game for "personal reasons." He will not be back for Florida's final three-game set against Philadelphia that starts Friday. The club gave Jacobs permission to miss the series.

"They pretty much knocked us out (of the playoffs)," Marlins manager Joe Girardi said, referring to the Phillies. "It's important for us to win the series."

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