CINCINNATI (AP) -- Melissa Griffey remained in Florida for
Cincinnati's weekend series against Montreal, and she reminded her
husband before Sunday's finale to not hit the four home runs he
needed to reach 500.
Ken Griffey Jr. kept his word, hitting just two.
He hit his 497th and 498th homers on consecutive pitches, and
the Reds rallied for three runs in the ninth inning to beat the
"I told my wife to stay home his weekend, because it was only a
three-game series," Griffey said. "She said, 'Don't hit four
today.' She would have been mad. When I got the walk, I said,
Pinch-hitter Jacob Cruz hit a two-out, two-run homer in the
ninth that tied the score against Rocky Biddle (0-4), and the Reds
won the game on singles by pinch-hitter Barry Larkin, Ryan Freel
and D'Angelo Jimenez, who went 3-for-5. Cruz's homer was his first
since May 29, 2002, and it was his first as a pinch-hitter.
After Montreal took a 3-0 lead in the first inning, Jimenez
singled and Griffey hit a 3-2 pitch from Livan Hernandez to the
opposite field for his 16th homer of the season. He pulled the next
pitch he saw from Hernandez 409 feet to right field to tie the game
in the third.
"He's having fun," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "He feels
good. It's fun to watch and see them change that number (in center
field) and see who he's catching and who he's passing. The home
runs are good for the team, too."
Griffey, who had his 50th multihomer game, tied teammate Adam
Dunn and the Cardinals' Albert Pujols for the major league lead
with 17. He has 100 since joining the Reds before the 2000 season.
"You want to see a friend be successful, especially when
they've gone through as much garbage as he has," Larkin said.
"People have been very critical of him. Now, the same people are
jumping on the bandwagon. I get more enjoyment out of seeing that
Griffey has three home runs in Cincinnati's last two games and
nine in his last 14 games. With two more, he would become the 20th
major leaguer to reach 500.
"The most important thing is we got the win," he said. "I
would have been satisfied with getting the guy in with a single.
After his second homer, Griffey responded to the crowd by coming
out of the dugout and waving his cap. The crowd of 31,814 booed
when Hernandez walked Griffey on four pitches with one out and
nobody on in the sixth inning.
Griffey flied out in the eighth. His family will join him on the
road trip to Oakland and Cleveland.
"When you win, it's a lot of fun," he said. "I think the fans
don't know how important they are. When they're behind us, they
give us the extra energy level to go out and perform for them."
Mike Matthews (1-0) earned the win by getting the final out in
the ninth after Montreal had taken a 5-3 lead on pinch-hitter
Terrmel Sledge's two-out RBI single and Brad Wilkerson's
run-scoring bunt single.
"We had a shot at shutting them down and winning the series,"
Expos manager Frank Robinson said. "It's very disheartening when
you do things right on the field and you can't get over the hump."
With its second straight last at-bat win, Cincinnati maintained
a two-game lead in the NL Central.
Hernandez, the 314th pitcher to allow a Griffey homer, allowed
three runs and six hits in eight innings. He is 0-3 in his last
Cincinnati starter Todd Van Poppel gave up three runs and five
hits in five innings.
Van Poppel allowed four runs in the first inning of his previous
start and gave up three in the first Sunday before retiring 14 of
his final 16 batters. Jose Vidro hit a two-run double in the first
and scored on Nick Johnson's double.
"I can't explain it. How can we be shut down totally by the
same guy we just got three runs off of?" Robinson said.
Dunn struck out three times. ... Cincinnati's Sean Casey
went 0-for-4, dropping his league-leading average to .377. ... RF
Austin Kearns was out of the Cincinnati lineup for the eighth
consecutive game due to a sore on the side of his right thumb. ...
Larkin missed his third consecutive start with sore abdominal
muscles. ... Lopez was 1-for-13 while starting the previous three
games before his first-inning single. ... Biddle blew a save chance
for the third time in 14 opportunities. ... The Expos have lost
their last six series.