It's only July, and still too early to

By Tom Withers Associated Press Published:

It's only July, and still too early to start dreaming of an all-Ohio World Series.

But who would have thought the Indians and Reds would both be in first place at the All-Star break, either?

"There's no need to think about that now," Reds manager Jack McKeon said Sunday after Cincinnati rallied from an early four-run deficit to beat Cleveland 9-4. "There's a long way to go and a lot of things can happen."

True, Jack. But after the teams went toe-to-toe six times in the past month, there is little doubt an I-71 Series would be entertaining.

Eddie Taubensee and Mike Cameron each hit two-run homers in the eighth inning off Paul Shuey on Sunday as Cincinnati came from behind to win two of three games at Jacobs Field this weekend.

The win did more for the Reds than just ensure them of holding on to first place in the NL Central through the break. It gave them some revenge and some respect.

"I think this might send a message that the other team in Ohio is pretty good, too," Reds All-Star first baseman Sean Casey said.

One day after watching the Indians come from five runs down to win, the Reds showed that they too can come back.

And if not for Omar Vizquel's ninth-inning homer on Saturday, the Reds may have swept the series in Cleveland's ballpark just like the Indians did to Cincinnati at Riverfront Stadium last month.

"This was a fitting tribute to the guys after getting crushed yesterday," McKeon said while lighting a cigar. "After falling behind 4-0 we didn't pack our duds and go home."

Cincinnati has been playing from behind all year. The Reds were in last place on May 14, but have gone 35-18 since. More impressively, they're 12-1 against first-place teams since June 21.

With their 24th win in their last 31 road games, the Reds also improved baseball's best road mark to 29-13. They enter the break at 49-36, 14 games ahead of their pace last year.

"It's great," said starter Brett Tomko, who pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings after being touched for a four-run first. "For where we came from, when we were so far under .500, we know we've got a pretty good ballclub."

Manny Ramirez drove in two runs to increase his major league-leading RBI total to 96 and David Justice hit a two-run homer for the Indians, who'll send six All-Stars to Boston. Cleveland's major league-best 56-31 record is five games better than it was in 1998 through 87 games.

"At the start of spring training if somebody had said we would have 56 wins, we would have taken it," said Indians manager Mike Hargrove, whose team has been battling injuries all year. "It's been gratifying. But we know we must play equally well in the second half."

Taubensee, who hit a two-run single in the Reds' series-opening win Friday, followed a leadoff infield single by Barry Larkin in the eighth with his ninth homer, a shot to right off Shuey (5-4), who later said he has a minor groin pull.

Dmitri Young then singled and Cameron hit his 10th homer to left to make it 8-4.

Danny Graves (6-3), one of five former Indians on the Reds, pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the win. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh when pinch-hitter Jacob Cruz lined out to short and Kenny Lofton got doubled off second.

It was the eighth time this season that Graves has faced a bases-loaded situation, and the seventh time he has successfully worked out of the jam.

"You take any kind of double play you can get there," said Graves. "That one was real nice."

Taubensee added an RBI double in the ninth, pushing the Reds lead to 9-4.

"I'm glad we went into the ninth with a five-run lead," McKeon said. "We knew Vizquel couldn't hit a five-run homer."

Protecting a 4-2 lead, Indians starter Jaret Wright was stung by a pair of two-out walks in the sixth. After Cameron singled, Aaron Boone, robbed of extra bases earlier by Justice in left, hit a two-run single to tie it 4-4.

Cleveland jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first against Tomko on Ramirez's two-run double and Justice's 17th homer.

Ramirez, who homered twice on Saturday, has the third highest RBI total at the All-Star break in history. Only Hank Greenberg (103 in 1935) and Juan Gonzalez (101 in '98) had more.

"Manny has had a great season for most people in half a season," Hargrove said.

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