CLEVELAND (AP) -- Jeremy Sowers quickly learned what 349 other
big league pitchers already knew -- Ken Griffey Jr. can hit a
Ken Griffey Jr. hit the 549th home run of his career in the Reds' victory at Cleveland. Griffey's shot came off Indians starter Jeremy Sowers, in his first game in the majors. The highest career-homer number for any player against a pitcher making his major league debut was by Hank Aaron, who welcomed the Dodgers' Rex Hudson to the majors with his 726th homer in the only game of Hudson's big league career (July 27, 1974).• For more Elias Says, Click here.
Griffey and Adam Dunn each hit a two-run homer to help the
Cincinnati Reds to their first series victory over the Cleveland Indians in nine years with a 4-2 victory Sunday. Both connected in
the fourth inning to ruin Sowers' much-anticipated major league
debut."They've been there, done that a lot more than the average
person," Sowers said, referring to two sluggers who have a
combined 731 career homers. "The first one was to a future Hall of
Famer. It won't be the last."Griffey's 549th homer -- off 350 different pitchers -- broke a tie
with Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt and gave him sole possession of
11th place on the career list, 14 behind Reggie Jackson."I swung at the first pitch the first time," said Griffey, who
flied out to end the first. "The second time I tried to be a
little more patient. I got a pitch and was able to hit it."Elizardo Ramirez (3-6) pitched 6 1-3 innings for his first win
in six starts since May 23 as the Reds took two of three in the
series. Cincinnati had not won a series from its state rival since
the first year of interleague play in 1997, going 0-5-2 since.Todd Coffey needed only five pitches to throw a perfect ninth
for his sixth save. The Reds won for only the fifth time in 16
games overall, though they are 11-3 on the road since May 31."It was a good end to our trip," manager Jerry Narron said.
"Now it would be nice if we could win some games at home."Cleveland has lost seven of nine -- all to NL teams -- after going
15-3 in interleague play in 2005."We couldn't do anything offensively," manager Eric Wedge said
after the Indians dropped their seventh straight series. "I know
these guys care and the effort is there, but the mental toughness
is not."Sowers (0-1) displayed composure despite admitting to a case of
the jitters."I was nervous, but worked through it," he said. "It was kind
of an overwhelming experience, but hopefully I'll make some
adjustments and do well when I face them in five days."Sowers was drafted 20th overall in the first round by Cincinnati
in 2001, but spurned the Reds' contract offer to attend Vanderbilt
University. He signed with the Indians in 2004 after being the No.
6 overall pick.The left-hander compiled a 23-5 record and 2.00 ERA in 42 starts
in the minors, including a 9-1 mark and 1.39 ERA in 15 starts at
Triple-A Buffalo this year."Obviously, he's on the fast track," Griffey said. "Everyone
is nervous in their first start, but he's up here for a reason."Sowers allowed only a single to Rich Aurilia over the first
three innings before walking Brandon Phillips to open the fourth.
Griffey then hit a 3-1 pitch 418 feet to straightaway center for
his 13th homer and a 2-0 lead."I missed my spot a little here, a little there," Sowers said.
"They were not terrible pitches, just not good enough."Aurilia singled and, one out later, Dunn hammered his 24th homer
to make it 4-0."He's going to be a good one," Dunn said. "It was 3-0. I
figured he doesn't walk many guys. If it was in a certain area, I
was going to swing and it was close enough to that area."Sowers allowed five hits and four runs over five innings,
walking one and striking out three.Limited to three singles over five innings, Cleveland scored
twice in the sixth.Ronnie Belliard doubled to center and went to third on a single
just out of the reach of second baseman Phillips. Travis Hafner
followed with a broken-bat RBI single.Victor Martinez then sliced an opposite-field drive that
third-base umpire Ed Rapuano ruled was inches foul. Martinez walked
to load the bases and Todd Hollandsworth hit a sacrifice fly to
make it 4-2.Ramirez balked the runners to second and third before getting
Aaron Boone on a grounder to end the inning.
The Reds snapped their longest homerless streak of the
season at five games. ... The Reds were successful on 14 straight
steal attempts until 1B Scott Hatteberg was thrown out by Cleveland
C Kelly Shoppach in the seventh. ... Sowers' first pitch was a
called strike to Ryan Freel, who came in hitting .536 (15-for-28)
in his last six road games. ... A crowd of 33,139 brought the
three-game total to 99,138, the largest series attendance at Jacobs
Field in 2006.