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Harang pays tribute in Reds' 2-1 victory

July 24, 2007|From the Associated Press

CINCINNATI — Aaron Harang returned from his grandfather's funeral and pitched 10 innings Monday night, setting up the Cincinnati Reds' 2-1, 12-inning victory over the Milwaukee Brewers that was special for one particular player.

"He wanted to win that game so bad," said catcher Javier Valentin, whose single ended it.

Harang rejoined the Reds after spending the last three days in San Diego, where his grandfather died. He pitched on schedule because he figured it was a fitting tribute.

Earlier this season, Harang stayed behind after a series in San Diego to spend time with his grandfather, who loved the game.

"I know he's out there with me," Harang said. "He was a baseball fan. He wouldn't have wanted me to miss a start. When we were out there and I stayed an extra day, he was mad because he thought I might miss a start."

This time, the only thing Harang missed was the victory.

Valentin's bases-loaded single off Grant Balfour (0-2) ended a game between two free-swinging teams. The struggling reliever walked Jeff Conine and Pedro Lopez to open the inning, then threw to third base too late on David Ross' bunt to get an out. Valentin pinch-hit and lined Balfour's first pitch to right field to end it.

Balfour missed the 2005 season with shoulder and elbow injuries and spent last season on rehab in the Reds' farm system. He was called up by the Brewers last week after pitching well and throwing 95 mph in the minors.

He has made three appearances for Milwaukee, giving up four hits, six runs, one homer and four walks in 2 2/3 innings.

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