<
>

Griffey connects for No. 499 in loss

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Ken Griffey Jr. didn't make history, the
bullpen couldn't protect a lead and the manager watched Sunday's
final innings on the clubhouse TV.

The Cincinnati Reds didn't have a pleasant three-day stay at
Jacobs Field.

Griffey moved within one swing of history with his 499th career
homer, but the Reds' losing streak reached a season-high six games
with a 10-8 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

Matt Lawton hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning as the
Indians climbed back from a 7-1 deficit to complete a three-game
sweep with their third straight come-from-behind victory over their
in-state rivals.

The Reds have lost six straight -- all on the road -- and look
nothing like the team that led the NL Central for 20 straight days.

"We probably should have won all three games," said first
baseman Sean Casey. "Instead, we got three losses. It was a really
tough weekend for us."

The Indians trailed 7-1 in the fourth, but stormed back with
five runs in the sixth and three in the seventh -- capped by
Lawton's shot off Mike Matthews.

Cleveland outscored Cincinnati 18-3 from the sixth inning on in
the series, aided by the Reds' floundering bullpen, which blew
saves in each game.

"It's ridiculous," closer Danny Graves said. "We're major
league ballplayers and if you can't throw strikes, they'd better
find someone who can."

Griffey hit No. 499 in the third inning, and with his next homer
he'll become the 20th player to reach 500. He would've certainly
gotten there much earlier if not for a freakish run of injuries the
past few seasons.

He nearly hit the milestone homer several times during his
weekend at the Jake. But like the Reds, came up just short.

Griffey went 1-for-3 and walked twice. He came within a few feet
of No. 500 in the fourth inning with a shot to right that was
caught just short of the wall.

"I hit it off the end," said Griffey, who feels his pursuit of
500 homers is hurting the Reds.

"It's one of those things where guys don't want to mess up,"
he said. "Look at a no-hitter, it's the same thing. If I hit one
(homer), guys start pressing. It's natural."

Griffey gets his next shot at 500 on Monday in Philadelphia.

After walking in the first, Griffey connected for his 18th homer
-- and 10th in 21 games -- in the third, pulling a 1-1 pitch from
Cliff Lee over the wall in right.

Griffey paused to watch its flight as fans in the lower tier of
seats scrambled for the souvenir.

In his next at-bat in the fourth, Griffey nearly got beaned by
the first pitch from Lee, who was immediately ejected by plate
umpire Matt Hollowell.

Lee's fastball whizzed behind Griffey's head, and Hollowell
tossed the left-hander almost as quickly as the ball reached the
backstop. Ryan Freel scored on the play.

Lee maintained he wasn't trying to hit Griffey.

"I was trying to go in under his hands, and it just got away
from me," said Lee, who walked five in 3 2-3 innings. "He just
hit a homer on my last pitch, so it obviously looked like I was
throwing at him, but it just got away."

Several of the Reds came storming up the dugout steps, while
Griffey simply leaned on his bat and offered a puzzled look to Lee.

Griffey was asked if he thought Lee was aiming at him.

"I'm not going to answer that," he said.

Reds manager Dave Miley, who got tossed by Hollowell in the
sixth for arguing balls and strikes, was equally noncommittal.

"I'd rather not comment," he said. "Ask the home plate
umpire. He obviously thought there was some intent."

Coco Crisp hit a three-run homer in the sixth off Reds starter
Cory Lidle, and Omar Vizquel had a two-run shot in the inning off
Brian Reith (2-2) as the Indians tied it 7-7.

Brandon Larson's RBI in the seventh put the Reds back up, but
Tim Laker snapped an 0-for-14 slump with an RBI double and Lawton
followed with his 10th homer, giving Cleveland a 10-8 lead.

Matt Miller (1-0), who bounced around the minors until this
season, pitched the seventh for his first major league win. Jose
Jimenez worked the ninth for his fifth save in eight tries.

Wily Mo Pena hit his first career grand slam in the first for
Cincinnati, which built a 7-1 lead in the fourth after Casey's RBI
double.

But the Indians didn't quit, rallying as they did while
overcoming 5-2 and 5-1 deficits in the series' first two games.

"It was huge for us," said Laker, "especially with the crowds
we had. They were really into the game."

Game notes
Reds SS D'Angelo Jimenez was lifted for a pinch-runner in
the second after straining his left oblique. ... Indians C Victor
Martinez missed his third straight game with a sprained foot, but
is expected to DH on Monday. ... Beginning Tuesday in New York,
Cleveland will play 16 of 19 on the road. ... On Monday, Griffey
will face Philadelphia LHP Eric Milton. He's 4-for-6 with two
doubles, a homer and two walks against him. ... The Indians are
13-1 in weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) home games.