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RADINSKY BLOWS IT AGAIN; REDS SCORE TWICE IN 9TH TO DEFEAT SLIDING DODGERS : CINCINNATI 6, DODGERS 5.

Byline: Matt McHale Daily News Staff Writer

For almost 90 minutes after Sunday's 6-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, Dodgers closer Scott Radinsky sat in the dugout. He wasn't thinking about Randy Johnson.

He wasn't thinking about Fox stock, which has dropped four points since buying the team or that Bobby Bonilla's Achilles flared up a little overnight.

For the second time in three games, Radinsky blew a lead he was given to start the ninth inning. If he wasn't thinking about the eight games that now separate the Dodgers from first place in the National League West, maybe he should have.

``This is California, the sun will come up tomorrow,'' Radinsky said, not looking so sure during a brief dugout interview. ``It's two games, but I know it will be made bigger than it is.''

It will be made bigger than it is because the Dodgers (27-29) have been self-destructing for three games since it first appeared Johnson was arriving from Seattle.

It started Friday night when Radinsky led 4-2 with two outs in the ninth but gave up four consecutive singles that tied a game the Dodgers lost in 12 innings. Sunday, he led 5-4, but allowed a leadoff homer to Reggie Sanders. He later walked Barry Larkin, who scored when Dmitri Young doubled off the glove of first baseman Eric Karros and into right field.

``Two games, man,'' said Bonilla, who didn't start because of a sore left Achilles. ``I've seen Robb Nen go through it, I've seen John Franco go through it. Now, I've seen Scott Radinsky go through it. It happens.''

But is it happening to a team paralyzed by the thought of another big trade sweeping through the clubhouse?

The Mariners, who have scouted Hideo Nomo and Ismael Valdes the past two games, seem to be having second thoughts about Johnson, who can become a free agent after the season.

Johnson has 25 strikeouts in his last two starts and the Mariners haven't seen anyone to make them want to deal. The trade still is expected to be completed because all other teams have backed off. But Seattle still wants the Dodgers to put Darren Dreifort in the deal.

All that has made for a major distraction on the field and in the clubhouse.

``If you look at these things, they can actually make you stronger if you don't let them eat you up,'' said Bonilla, who pinch hit in the ninth. ``I think we'll be stronger.''

The Dodgers looked hungry at the outset when Raul Mondesi hit a grand slam in the first against Reds left-hander Mike Remlinger. The first five Dodgers reached base against Remlinger, who was Nomo-like with three walks in the inning.

They even added a run in the second after a leadoff double by Charles Johnson. It didn't seem possible they wouldn't score again.

But Remlinger gave way to the Reds bullpen, which did not allow a hit in the final 4-2/3 innings, including Danny Graves (1-0), who pitched a scoreless eighth. Jeff Shaw retired the Dodgers in the ninth for his 16th save.

Valdes, who said the trade talk ``is just part of baseball,'' clearly pitched better than his last outing, when he allowed a career-high nine runs.

He gave back two of the runs in the second on the first of two Bret Boone home runs but settled down from there. After throwing 85 pitches through four innings, Valdes faced the minimum nine batters in the fifth, sixth and seventh, but manager Bill Russell came to get him in the eighth after he gave up a leadoff single to Willie Greene.

The Dodger Stadium crowd of 41,306 roared its approval and Valdes tipped his hat. Little did anyone know what was coming.

Antonio Osuna, the closer until bombing the first month, threw a 1-0 fastball to his first hitter, Boone, who hit it into the left-field pavilion for his ninth homer.

Radinsky, who had saves in 10 of his first 11 chances, took over to start the ninth. He immediately gave up the home run to Sanders, then walked Larkin one out later. Young doubled home the winning run.

It could have been worse if Mondesi hadn't stretched his arm over the fence in center to take away a home run from Greene.

``He's a strong young man,'' said pitching coach Goose Gregson, who sat with Radinsky in the dugout for almost a half hour. ``He'll be OK.''

CAPTION(S):

2 Photos

PHOTO (1--2) Scott Radinsky sat dejected in the dugout for almost 90 minutes after he failed to hold a lead for the second time in three games. At right, Bret Boone greets Reggie Sanders after Sanders' game-tying solo homer in the ninth.

Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 1, 1998
Words:793
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