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Boone HR lifts Indians to cap homer-filled weekend

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Aaron Boone had almost forgotten what it's
like to hit a home run.

Boone emerged from a long slump Sunday with a tiebreaking,
two-run homer in the eighth inning, sending the Cleveland Indians
to a 6-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Boone's fourth homer off reliever David Weathers (3-3) provided
a fitting final touch to a wild weekend series between the
intrastate rivals. Fourteen homers were hit during the three games,
including a pair of grand slams.

The decisive one was perhaps the most unlikely. Boone hadn't hit
one since June 7, and was in a 4-for-42 slump overall that had him
taking a lot of extra batting practice.

"I've been so not hitting homers this year. It felt good to get
one," Boone said. "The last thing I want to do is because I
haven't been hitting home runs, to go up there and try to."

Ben Broussard added a pinch-hit solo shot in the ninth off
Cincinnati's bullpen, which has given up 42 homers this season, the
most in the majors.

A Cleveland bullpen that gave up five homers in the first two
games finally dug in. Guillermo Mota (1-3) pitched the seventh
inning in relief of C.C. Sabathia to get the victory. Boone,
playing third base, started a double play that scuttled a rally in
the eighth.

Bob Wickman, who blew leads in his last two appearances, got the
final three outs for his 12th save in 15 chances. He fanned
pinch-hitter Ken Griffey Jr. on a slider with runners on
first-and-third to end it.

Wickman gave up Adam Dunn's game-ending grand slam in the series
opener, the only homer he has allowed all season. He followed the
same pattern in pitching to Griffey.

"Same way I went at Dunn the night before," Wickman said. "I
don't give up home runs. I don't believe people should elevate the
ball."

Griffey, who had homered in five of the last six games, got a
day of rest from the starting lineup, but wound up pinch-hitting
for the second time this season.

"It doesn't bother me," he said. "If you don't want to be in
that situation, you're in the wrong sport. We fell short, but I
enjoy it -- but not too often. Maybe once or twice a year."

Ohio's two major league teams split their six-game season
series, each taking two-of-three on the road. Cleveland leads the
series overall, 26-19.

The Indians finished a 4-2 trip to St. Louis and Cincinnati that
included back-to-back meltdowns in the ninth inning. They also
traded first baseman Eduardo Perez, a function of their recent
fade.

"We've definitely been playing better baseball," manager Eric
Wedge said. "We should have been 6-0 on the trip. Hopefully this
is a good start for us."

David Ross hit a pair of solo homers to lead Cincinnati, which
finished a 3-3 homestand and fell to 20-22 at Great American Ball
Park. Manager Jerry Narron was ejected for arguing after first base
umpire Chris Guccione called Dunn out on a close play in the bottom
of the eighth.

Travis Hafner was out of the Indians' starting lineup for the
fourth consecutive game with a sore elbow. Hafner, who came off the
bench and hit a grand slam in Cleveland's 12-7 victory on Saturday
night, pinch-hit and flied out in the seventh.

After the teams combined for 36 runs in the first two frenetic
games, starters Eric Milton and C.C. Sabathia made the offenses
slow down on a sizzling, 90-degree afternoon.

Milton gave up three runs in six innings, including Ronnie Belliard's solo homer. The left-hander has given up six homers in
his last three starts, one of the things preventing him from
getting his first victory since June 6.

Sabathia also gave up three runs over six innings, including the
two homers by Ross. Dunn drove in the other run with a single. Dunn
has the same number of homers and singles this season -- 26 each.

Game notes
The Indians went 8-10 in interleague play this season. The
Reds were 6-9. ... C Victor Martinez made his fourth career start
at 1B. ... Hafner is the first player since 1968 to hit four grand
slams before the All-Star break, according to the Elias Sports
Bureau. Only four others have done it: Lou Gehrig in 1934, Sid
Gordon in 1950, Jim Gentile in 1961 and Jim Northrup in 1968.
Hafner hit his fourth slam on Saturday night as a pinch-hitter. ...
The Reds were 44-37 at the season's midpoint for the third time in
the last five years. They had the same mark in 2002, when they
finished third at 78-84, and again in 2004, when they ended up
fourth at 76-86. ... Ross has 12 homers, a career high.