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.
|Ken Griffey Jr. gets congratulated by his teammates after a two-run bomb, the 549th in his career. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Ryan Freel, CF||3||0||0||0||1||0||1||.302|
|Brandon Phillips, 2B||2||1||0||0||1||0||0||.310|
|Ken Griffey Jr., DH||3||1||1||2||1||0||0||.259|
|Rich Aurilia, 3B||4||1||2||0||0||1||2||.263|
|Austin Kearns, RF||3||0||0||0||1||1||3||.269|
|Adam Dunn, LF||4||1||1||2||0||3||2||.221|
|David Ross, C||4||0||1||0||0||3||1||.323|
|Scott Hatteberg, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.287|
|Juan Castro, SS||4||0||1||0||0||0||1||.231|
|HR - Ken Griffey Jr. (13, Sowers), Adam Dunn (24, Sowers)|
|SH - Brandon Phillips (3)|
|RBI - Ken Griffey Jr. 2 (41), Adam Dunn 2 (45)|
|CS - Scott Hatteberg (2, 2nd base by Betancourt/Shoppach)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|DP - Castro-B. Phillips-Hatteberg|
|Elizardo Ramirez (W,3-6)||6.1||7||2||2||1||3||0||3.61|
|Chris Hammond (H,5)||1.2||1||0||0||1||2||0||6.04|
|Todd Coffey (S,6)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||2.23|
|Pitches-Strikes - Elizardo Ramirez 93-61, Chris Hammond 28-19, Todd Coffey 5-4|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Elizardo Ramirez 10-6, Chris Hammond 2-0, Todd Coffey 3-0|
|Batters Faced - Elizardo Ramirez 27, Chris Hammond 6, Todd Coffey 3|
|Grady Sizemore, CF||4||0||1||0||0||2||1||.297|
|Ron Belliard, 2B||3||1||2||0||1||1||0||.288|
|Jhonny Peralta, SS||4||1||1||0||0||1||4||.254|
|Travis Hafner, DH||4||0||2||1||0||0||0||.310|
|Victor Martinez, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||0||1||.292|
|Todd Hollandsworth, RF||3||0||1||1||0||0||0||.202|
|Aaron Boone, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||0||3||.256|
|Joe Inglett, LF||3||0||0||0||0||1||0||.000|
|a- Ben Broussard, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.325|
|Kelly Shoppach, C||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.217|
|a-grounded out for Inglett in the 9th|
|2B - Ron Belliard (15, Ramirez)|
|SF - Todd Hollandsworth (1)|
|RBI - Travis Hafner (59), Todd Hollandsworth (13)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|DP - A. Boone-Belliard-Martinez|
|Jeremy Sowers (L,0-1)||5||5||4||4||1||3||2||7.20|
|IBB - Griffey by Rafael Betancourt|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jeremy Sowers 82-50, Guillermo Mota 21-12, Rafael Betancourt 36-19, Rafael Perez 9-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeremy Sowers 6-5, Rafael Betancourt 1-2, Rafael Perez 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Jeremy Sowers 20, Guillermo Mota 4, Rafael Betancourt 8, Rafael Perez 4|
|Attendance - 33139|
|Game Time - 2:49|
|Temperature - 72|
|Umpires - Home - Tony Randazzo, First Base - Jim Wolf, Second Base - Joe West, Third Base - Ed Rapuano|