CINCINNATI (AP) -- No historic homer. The capacity crowd had to
settle for a nondescript single and another late-inning comeback by
the home team.
Ken Griffey Jr. didn't seem to mind.
Griffey remained stuck at 499 homers, but everything else went
well Wednesday night for the Cincinnati Reds. Tim Hummel had three
hits, and Ryan Freel's double broke an eighth-inning tie and set up
a 7-4 victory over the Texas Rangers.
"Anytime you get a chance to do something, it means a lot,"
said Griffey, who was 1-for-4 with a walk. "When the little guys
do it, it helps the big guys. We get more of a spark from them than
they do from us.
"When those guys do it, it's more fun for us."
Freel's bases-loaded double snapped a 3-all tie in the eighth,
and Barry Larkin followed with a two-run single as the Rangers'
bullpen had a second straight meltdown.
The crowd of 42,000 stood, screamed encouragement and took
photos every time Griffey came to bat, hoping to see the
long-awaited homer. Instead, the night belonged to his teammates,
who have been energized by the attention to Junior.
"I think we're feeling the intensity," Freel said. "It's like
chasing history with him. If you look in the dugout when he comes
up, you see everybody up at the railing."
With his family watching nervously from the front row next to
the dugout, Griffey didn't come close. He hit a routine fly, fouled
out and walked against left-hander Nick Bierbrodt, who was called
up from the minors before the game and wound up in a surreal
"That was nice," said Bierbrodt, who lasted six innings.
"After a couple of years pitching in Tampa, it's nice to have fans
screaming at you."
Bierbrodt didn't make a big mistake against Griffey, who appears
to be pressing to get No. 500 out of the way.
"The guy flies in here to Cincinnati yesterday, and I've never
seen him play," Texas manager Buck Showalter said. "The next
thing you know, he's trying to keep Ken Griffey Jr. in the
The bullpen held him down, too.
Griffey singled off reliever Ron Mahay in the seventh, then
grounded into a double play that ended the decisive rally in the
Griffey is one homer from becoming the 20th player to reach 500.
He has one more chance to get it in his hometown -- the Reds
complete their three-game interleague series Thursday, then head
for St. Louis.
"Everybody wants to see 500, and you can't blame them," Freel
said. "You've got 39,000 people who want to see 500, but they want
to see the Reds win, too."
Frank Francisco (1-1) allowed the Reds to load the bases with
none out in the eighth, and Freel doubled to center to send the
Rangers to their third straight loss. Phil Norton (1-2) pitched the
last two innings, giving up a solo homer to Michael Young.
Undefeated Paul Wilson also came up empty again after turning a
3-2 lead over to the Reds' bullpen. Wilson is 7-0, but the bullpen
has blown save chances in each of his last three starts.
Alfonso Soriano had an RBI single for Texas in the first. He
also singled in the third, stole second and came around on David
Dellucci's slump-busting single.
Dellucci hadn't gotten a hit since May 30, going 0-for-20.
Hank Blalock homered to center in the seventh off reliever John
Riedling to tie it at 3, keeping Wilson stuck at seven wins. It was
the fourth time this season that the right-hander left a game with
the lead, but the bullpen blew it.
Bierbrodt gave up three runs and six hits, three to Hummel.
Adam Dunn led off the second inning with his 19th homer, a high
drive that carried into the first row in right field.
Hummel, who wears No. 60 and has played only 45 games in the
majors, led off the third with his first homer of the season and
the third of his brief career. Larkin's sacrifice fly in the fifth
put the Reds up 3-2.
C Rod Barajas was out of the Rangers' lineup because of a
swollen right thumb, bruised in a home plate collision with Griffey
the previous night. Tests found no serious injury. ... Reds OF
Austin Kearns, on the DL since June 8 with a sore on his right
thumb, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville and went
2-for-3 with a single and double. ... RHP Aaron Harang will start
for Louisville on Friday. Harang has been on the DL since June 4
with an inflamed elbow.