for this game

Aurilia, Harang lead Reds past Pirates

Sep 30, 2006 - 1:55 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Rich Aurilia's timely hitting and Aaron Harang's tough pitching kept the Cincinnati Reds in the postseason chase.

Aurilia homered among his three hits and Harang tossed his second consecutive complete game as the Reds kept alive their chances for the National League Central Division title with a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In winning for the sixth time in eight contests, Cincinnati (80-80) remained 2 1/2 games back of first-place St. Louis with two remaining. After losing eight of their last 10, the Cardinals have two games remaining with the Milwaukee Brewers and also may have to face the San Francisco Giants in a makeup contest on Monday.

"We're alive at least one more day," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "It's a great learning experience for everybody what we've gone through the last month."

"Right now, it's about us playing well and winning, but it's probably more about luck and getting some other teams to lose," Aurilia said. "We'll just play it out and see what happens. ... (The playoff chase) is fun, but at the same time, you look back and go, 'What about this game? What about that game?' But it's fun."

Batting .348 (31-for-89) in September, Aurilia snapped a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning with his 23rd homer, a two-run shot to center field off starter Zach Duke. He also added an RBI single in the seventh for a 4-1 lead.

"I saw the ball well and I feel like I hit the ball well tonight," Aurilia said. "(Duke) left a pitch up and out over the plate on the home run. Other than that, I was fortunate to drive some runs in tonight as guys in front of me got on base. Everybody seemed to contribute tonight, which was good."

After Jack Wilson halved the deficit with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh, Cincinnati added an insurance run in the eighth when Juan Castro scored on Brian Rogers' wild pitch on an intentional ball thrown to Jason LaRue.

Going the distance for the sixth time this year, Harang (16-11) struck out nine to move ahead of San Diego's Jake Peavy for the league lead (216). He yielded two runs and eight hits without issuing a walk.

"It's great because we were able to keep the bullpen fresh and give them a day off so they could be good and ready for the next couple of days, if need be," Harang said. "I'm not typically a strikeout pitcher. It's definitely something to be excited about."

"He finished off for him a great regular season of starts," Narron said. "I don't know what to tell you. He pitched outstanding."

Duke (10-15) slipped to 9-4 at home after giving up four runs and 12 hits in 6 2/3 frames, striking out three and walking one.

Freddy Sanchez went 2-for-4 and raised his batting average to a league-best .345 for the Pirates, who have dropped eight in a row.

"I want to go out and get some hits, and at the same time, you want to win, but we're not winning right now," Sanchez said.

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