CINCINNATI (AP) -- With a noteworthy home run, Ken Griffey Jr. turned Father's Day into another personal hallmark moment.
Griffey hit a tiebreaking, three-run shot in the eighth inning Sunday, rallying the Cincinnati Reds to an 11-8 victory over the Atlanta Braves that snapped their six-game losing streak.Griffey's 513th career homer moved him into sole possession of 16th place on the career list, prevented a four-game sweep by the Braves and saved the last-place Reds from hitting another low point.Last year, Griffey hit homer No. 500 on Father's Day in St. Louis with his dad, Ken Sr., in the stands. His father followed the game from home on Sunday."He'll know," Griffey said. "Even though he's home, he's still there."Griffey has five homers on Father's Day, trailing Mike Piazza by
one for the most among active players. His 15 RBI are the most by any current player on the day."I've hit home runs on Father's Day, Mother's Day -- I try to space them out," said Griffey, whose gift was a tie with pictures of his children. "There's something about those days. Today means I can go home and do whatever I want -- which is watch TV, watch the basketball game and [relax]."The stakes were less personal but more dire this year.The Reds hadn't even led a game for a week. They pulled ahead three times on Sunday -- by two, five and one run -- and blew all three leads. Finally, Griffey gave them one that would stand up.Adam Bernero (4-2) gave up a pair of one-out singles in the eighth before Griffey homered deep to right, breaking a tie with Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews on the career list. Relieved teammates mobbed him."You can go to Sunday dinner and not have to think about a loss, but we've still got a lot of work to do," Griffey said. "Guys are going up there and putting a little too much pressure on themselves to win it all by themselves."Neither pitching staff had a good time. The Reds matched their season high with 17 hits, and the Braves reached double digits in hits for the sixth straight game."We've been doing it, for the most part," said Braves reliever John Foster, who gave up a pair of homers that put the Reds up 7-2 in the fifth. "We almost had the sweep there. We were close. Everybody has an off-day. Today was just one of those. That's not the last time we're going to get into a game like that."The Braves were in position to snatch it away in the end.Andruw Jones doubled and scored on Johnny Estrada's single off David Weathers (4-0) in the eighth inning, tying it at 8. Jones had an RBI single, the double and three walks, leading a resurgent offense.Atlanta has scored 63 runs in its last eight games, an average of just under eight per game."We're happy getting three of four," manager Bobby Cox said of the series. "We scored enough runs today to make you think you should have swept them. When you score that many, you should win."The Reds appeared to be in control after Adam Dunn hit a three-run homer into Atlanta's bullpen in the fifth and Joe Randa
followed with a solo shot into Cincinnati's bullpen for a 7-2 lead. It didn't last long, underscoring the Reds' struggle to do anything right.Since their chief executive flew to Colorado to deliver a win-or-else ultimatum two weeks ago, the Reds have gone 6-8 without major changes.The Braves completed a 4-3 trip that was encouraging under the circumstances. Atlanta has three starters -- John Thomson, Mike Hampton and Tim Hudson -- on the disabled list, forcing the Braves to squeeze starts out of relievers and rookies.Kyle Davies started on only three days of rest and gave up five runs in 4 1/3 innings. The 21-year-old rookie was fairly fresh -- he lasted only 2 1/3 innings Wednesday at Texas.Atlanta relied on homers to win the first three games of the series, hitting 11. The Braves took a different approach on Sunday, making their big comeback by stringing together singles during long innings. Wilson Betemit's solo shot off starter Luke Hudson was Atlanta's only homer.
The Braves have never swept a four-game series in Cincinnati. They did take a five-game series in 1984. ... Julio Franco, still recovering from a virus, got the day off. The 46-year-old first baseman hit two homers on Saturday night. ... Reliever Kevin Gryboski fell to his back but managed to catch Griffey's low line drive in the sixth. ... The Reds have given up 104 homers, most in the majors. They gave up a club-record 236 last year.