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Cincinnati at Washington

Cincinnati «1000103005132

Griffey's 30th homer helps Reds top Nationals

CBS wire reports

WASHINGTON -- After all of the injuries, after the long power drought to start 2005, Ken Griffey Jr. is a 30-homer player once again.

And the instant offense he's providing day in and day out for the Cincinnati Reds is precisely the sort of clutch hitting the Washington Nationals can only dream about right now.

Griffey reached 30 homers in a season for the first time since 2000, Brandon Claussen won his fifth straight decision by becoming the latest unheralded hurler to shut down Washington and the Reds beat the Nationals 5-3 Thursday.

"As you get older, stay around, you just go out and have fun and don't worry if you hit them out," said the 35-year-old Griffey, whose solo shot off Livan Hernandez (14-6) gave Cincinnati a 3-1 lead in the seventh. "I'm not trying to hit it out, just trying to get good contact."

With the loss and the New York Mets' victory in Arizona, the Nationals have sole possession of last place in the NL East for the first time this season.

Washington left 10 runners on base Thursday, and twice failed to score after getting someone to third base with only one out, including when Hernandez grounded into a double play in the fourth inning.

Less forgivable was Gary Bennett's popup to shortstop in the sixth with runners at the corners and one out. It came on a curveball that was the last pitch for Claussen (9-8), who gave up one unearned run, six hits and two walks over 5 2/3 innings. He is 5-0 with a 2.77 ERA over his last six starts.

"It's like a pasture out there," Claussen said. "It's a pitcher-friendly ballpark."

After Bennett, pinch-hitter Carlos Baerga grounded out against reliever Matt Belisle to end the inning.

"A real big spot for us," manager Frank Robinson said.

Why does Washington seem to have so much trouble getting runners home from third with less than two outs?

"That's a great question," Bennett said. "I wish had the answer to that. Or I wish somebody in here had the answer."

Robinson has lamented since spring training that his club lacks a true slugger, the sort of player who can alter the course of a game with one swing.

Someone like Griffey. But after getting at least 40 homers in seven of eight seasons from 1993-2000, he struggled through injuries that limited him to a yearly average of fewer than 16 homers and 80 at-bats from 2001-04.

There was a torn knee tendon, hip and thigh strains, a dislocated shoulder, a bad ankle, and then the torn hamstring in August 2004 that had to be reattached to the bone with screws. He began 2005 by going 79 at-bats without a homer, the longest such season-opening drought of his career.

But he's turned things around, particularly of late.

With two other hits Thursday, Griffey is batting .457 with five homers and 11 RBI over an 11-game hitting streak that's lifted his average to .297. He's got a chance to hit .300 over a full season for the first time since 1997 with Seattle.

His two runs put him at 1,400 for his career, and he moved within nine hits of 2,300.

"I don't really think about those things. I just concentrate on one at-bat at a time," he said. "And if I can put a good streak together, then that's OK."

Sean Casey also had three hits for Cincinnati, and Felipe Lopez and Austin Kearns added two each.

After Griffey's line drive on a 3-2 pitch began the seventh, Hernandez hit the next batter, Adam Dunn, before being lifted. Dunn eventually came around to score on reliever Hector Carrasco's wild pitch. Carrasco also gave up Jason LaRue's RBI double that made it 5-1.

That gained significance in the bottom of the ninth, when Brad Wilkerson hit a two-run homer off Kent Mercker. David Weathers, Cincinnati's sixth pitcher, gave up a single to Jose Vidro to bring the tying run to the plate before getting Nick Johnson to hit into a fielder's choice and striking out Jose Guillen.

"Everybody's moving around a little slow. We've got to come out with a better attitude," Wilkerson said. "It's hard to come back every game. We've got to come out with a sense of urgency right off the get-go."


  • The crowd of 40,762 put Washington above 2 million, with 2,007,656 in 59 games. The Montreal Expos drew fewer than 800,000 last season.
  • On June 30, the Nationals were a majors-best 30-13 at RFK Stadium, but since then they've gone 6-14 and lost five of six home series.
  • The Reds began the season 7-28 on the road, but they're 16-7 since, including winning 11 of their past 13 away from Cincinnati.
  • Hernandez allowed four runs on 10 hits (nine singles), walked three, hit a batter and was charged with a balk, one of three overall in the game. He's won only two of his last 10 starts; earlier in the year he won 11 decisions in a row.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Reds starter Brandon Claussen allows one unearned run while winning his fifth consecutive decision.  (AP)
Reds starter Brandon Claussen allows one unearned run while winning his fifth consecutive decision. (AP)

Players of the Game

K. Griffey
AB 5
R 2
H 3
HR 1

S. Casey
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 0
Cincinnati Reds
Felipe Lopez, SS5120012 .291
Rich Aurilia, 2B4000103 .276
Ken Griffey Jr., CF5231002 .297
Adam Dunn, LF4100005 .249
Sean Casey, 1B4130100 .322
Austin Kearns, RF4022112 .249
Jason LaRue, C5011018 .269
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B4010021 .245
Brandon Claussen, P3010011 .049
    Matt Belisle, P0000000 .143
   a- Jacob Cruz, PH1000001 .224
    Brian Shackelford, P0000000 .000
    Todd Coffey, P0000000 .000
    Kent Mercker, P0000000 .000
    David Weathers, P0000000 .000
a-popped out for Belisle in the 7th
2B - Jason LaRue (23, Carrasco)
HR - Ken Griffey Jr. (30, Hernandez)
RBI - Ken Griffey Jr. (86), Austin Kearns 2 (49), Jason LaRue (49)
2-OUT RBI - Austin Kearns 2 (24)
Team LOB - 11
DP - F. Lopez-Aurilia-Casey
E - Edwin Encarnacion (7, Wild throw), Felipe Lopez (13, Misplayed grounder)
Cincinnati Reds
Brandon Claussen (W,9-8) 5.2610250 4.29
Matt Belisle (H,7) 0.1000000 3.98
Brian Shackelford 1000110 1.69
Todd Coffey 1100000 4.80
Kent Mercker 0.1122001 3.63
David Weathers (S,11) 0.2100010 3.50
HBP - Schneider (by Kent Mercker)
Pitches-Strikes - Brandon Claussen 96-65, Matt Belisle 5-4, Brian Shackelford 19-13, Todd Coffey 12-9, Kent Mercker 13-8, David Weathers 9-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brandon Claussen 4-8, Matt Belisle 1-0, Brian Shackelford 1-1, Todd Coffey 1-2, Kent Mercker 1-0, David Weathers 1-0
Batters Faced - Brandon Claussen 25, Matt Belisle 1, Brian Shackelford 4, Todd Coffey 4, Kent Mercker 3, David Weathers 3
Washington Nationals
Brad Wilkerson, LF4112112 .246
Jose Vidro, 2B5010011 .270
Nick Johnson, 1B3000202 .296
Jose Guillen, RF5010033 .300
Preston Wilson, CF4010012 .263
Vinny Castilla, 3B4120001 .250
Gary Bennett, C4000015 .241
Jamey Carroll, SS2021000 .245
   a- Carlos Baerga, PH1000002 .271
    Cristian Guzman, SS1000000 .195
Livan Hernandez, P2010001 .246
    Joey Eischen, P0000000 .333
    Hector Carrasco, P0000000 .000
   b- Tony Blanco, PH1000000 .204
    Travis Hughes, P0000000 .000
    Mike Stanton, P0000000 .000
   c- Brian Schneider, PH0100000 .288
a-grounded out for Carroll in the 6th
b-flied out for Carrasco in the 7th
c-hit by pitch for Stanton in the 9th
2B - Preston Wilson (25, Claussen)
HR - Brad Wilkerson (9, Mercker)
RBI - Brad Wilkerson 2 (46), Jamey Carroll (17)
2-OUT RBI - Jamey Carroll (8)
Team LOB - 10
DP - Vidro-Carroll
Washington Nationals
Livan Hernandez (L,14-6) 61044351 3.87
Joey Eischen0111000 3.80
Hector Carrasco 1100010 2.32
Travis Hughes 0.1100000 0.00
Mike Stanton 1.2000000 5.11
HBP - Dunn (by Livan Hernandez)
WP - Hector Carrasco (5)
Pitches-Strikes - Livan Hernandez 115-73, Joey Eischen 4-3, Hector Carrasco 20-14, Travis Hughes 10-7, Mike Stanton 19-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Livan Hernandez 5-7, Mike Stanton 1-4
Batters Faced - Livan Hernandez 31, Joey Eischen 1, Hector Carrasco 4, Travis Hughes 2, Mike Stanton 5
Game Information
Attendance - 40762
Game Time - 3:27
Temperature - 83
Umpires - Home - Greg Gibson, First Base - Angel A. Hernandez, Second Base - Chad Fairchild, Third Base - Tom Hallion