With a four-homer splurge on Sunday, the Cincinnati Reds completed a three-game sweep and drew comparisons with a couple of the greatest hitters in baseball history.
Valentin hit his first career grand slam and a three-run homer, connecting from both sides of the plate during a 9-4 victory over the Colorado Rockies. The backup catcher became the first Reds switch-hitter to homer from both sides of the plate since Rose did it against Atlanta on Aug. 2, 1967.
"1967? Pete Rose? That's big," Valentin said excitedly.
He wasn't the only one measuring himself against history.
Griffey hit his 521st career homer, moving into a tie with Williams and Willie McCovey for 14th on the career list. Griffey recalled talking to Williams for about 20 minutes earlier in his career.
"I really don't put myself in that category," Griffey said. "You look at the things he's done. I've got three hitting streaks of 10 games or more, and his career average is what, .340? He went to war. I don't put myself in that category. I play baseball. He took a chance on sacrificing his life for his country."
Griffey hit a solo homer in each game of the series, showing flashes of his All-Century form. Griffey tore his hamstring from the bone last August and is just now rounding into form from major surgery.
"Now that we're going, I'm really glad to see him healthy and playing well," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "I did not enjoy seeing him play the last three days."
He wasn't alone in sending the Rockies to another dismal day on the road. The Reds scored all of their runs off four homers, all with two outs.
"After that, it seemed like every pitch I'm throwing I left up," Wright said.
Casey sparked the rally with his first homer of the season at Great American Ball Park, where more homers have been hit than anyplace else in the majors. The first baseman hadn't homered since June 5 at Colorado and has only four this season.
He flied out to the warning track in his previous at-bat, which reminded him of the drought.
"We've been joking around about how everyone's going to hit one but me," Casey said. "Then, in the AB before, I hit that one to center field and I'm like, 'C'mon, am I going to go the whole season without hitting one?' Finally, I got one."
Griffey's homer on the next pitch put the Reds ahead to stay. Finally, Valentin completed the nine-batter outburst with a grand slam to right-center, his fifth homer overall.
Valentin also connected from the right side in the eighth inning off All-Star reliever Brian Fuentes, completing the rare switch-hitting feat.
"Anytime you do something Pete Rose did, that's pretty special," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "And Griff tied a couple of big names, too. That's a pretty big day."
Ramon Ortiz (5-6) gave up four runs in 6 1/3 innings, handing the Reds an unwanted franchise record. They've gone 92 games into the season without a complete game, one more than the 2001 club's mark.
The Reds' rotation has pitched the fewest innings and given up the most runs in the majors, the main reason they're mired in last place in the NL Central. Cincinnati is the NL's only team without a complete game.
The sweep allowed the Reds to match their longest winning streak of the season -- three games, done six times.
Cory Sullivan had three hits, including a two-run homer, and J.D. Closser added a solo shot to pace Colorado. Aaron Miles extended his hitting streak to 12 games, matching Clint Barmes for longest on the Rockies this season.
|Players of the Game|
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|Cory Sullivan, CF||4||2||3||2||0||0||0||.288|
|a- Dustan Mohr, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.196|
|Aaron Miles, 2B||4||0||2||0||0||1||1||.293|
|Todd Helton, 1B||3||0||2||1||1||0||1||.290|
|Eric Byrnes, LF||5||0||0||0||0||1||6||.259|
|Garrett Atkins, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||1||3||.295|
|Jorge Piedra, RF||4||0||1||0||0||1||0||.308|
|Luis Gonzalez, SS||4||0||1||0||0||0||1||.291|
|Brian Fuentes, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|J.D. Closser, C||4||1||1||1||0||3||2||.207|
|Jamey Wright, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||1||.139|
|b- Eddy Garabito, PH||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||.317|
|Marcos Carvajal, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Desi Relaford, SS||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.231|
|a-popped out for Sullivan in the 9th|
|b-doubled for Wright in the 7th|
|2B - Luis Gonzalez (16, Ortiz), Eddy Garabito (5, Ortiz)|
|HR - Cory Sullivan (2, Ortiz), J.D. Closser (5, Ortiz)|
|SH - Aaron Miles (6)|
|RBI - Cory Sullivan 2 (14), Todd Helton (41), J.D. Closser (19)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|DP - Miles-Gonzalez-Helton|
|Jamey Wright (L,5-10)||6||5||6||6||4||5||3||5.43|
|IBB - Dunn by Jamey Wright|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jamey Wright 90-52, Marcos Carvajal 14-8, Brian Fuentes 27-17|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jamey Wright 6-7, Marcos Carvajal 1-1, Brian Fuentes 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Jamey Wright 27, Marcos Carvajal 3, Brian Fuentes 6|
|Felipe Lopez, SS||4||0||0||0||0||1||0||.301|
|Rich Aurilia, 2B||3||0||1||0||1||0||0||.251|
|Sean Casey, 1B||4||1||1||1||0||1||2||.310|
|Ken Griffey Jr., CF||1||2||1||1||3||0||0||.290|
|Kent Mercker, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Joe Randa, 3B||4||1||1||0||0||1||4||.292|
|Adam Dunn, LF||2||2||0||0||2||0||1||.242|
|Wily Mo Pena, RF||3||1||0||0||1||1||2||.274|
|Javier Valentin, C||4||2||2||7||0||0||0||.255|
|Ramon Ortiz, P||3||0||0||0||0||2||0||.138|
|Brian Shackelford, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Todd Coffey, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|David Weathers, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Kenny Kelly, PH-CF||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.333|
|a-grounded out for Weathers in the 8th|
|2B - Joe Randa (24, Wright)|
|HR - Sean Casey (4, Wright), Ken Griffey Jr. (20, Wright), Javier Valentin 2 (6, Wright, Fuentes)|
|RBI - Sean Casey (39), Ken Griffey Jr. (61), Javier Valentin 7 (22)|
|2-OUT RBI - Sean Casey (15), Ken Griffey Jr. (27), Javier Valentin 7 (10)|
|Team LOB - 3|
|Ramon Ortiz (W,5-6)||6.1||8||4||4||1||6||2||6.30|
|Brian Shackelford (H,1)||0.1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0.00|
|Todd Coffey (H,1)||0.2||1||0||0||0||0||0||5.58|
|David Weathers (H,8)||0.2||0||0||0||0||1||0||3.78|
|HBP - Helton (by Kent Mercker)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Ramon Ortiz 96-66, Brian Shackelford 5-3, Todd Coffey 11-9, David Weathers 6-5, Kent Mercker 18-11|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ramon Ortiz 5-8, Brian Shackelford 1-0, Todd Coffey 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Ramon Ortiz 28, Brian Shackelford 2, Todd Coffey 3, David Weathers 2, Kent Mercker 5|
|Attendance - 20736|
|Game Time - 2:47|
|Temperature - 78|
|Umpires - Home - Ron Kulpa, First Base - Dan Iassogna, Second Base - Dale Scott, Third Base - Tim Tschida|