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Griffey hits 569th as Reds finally defend home from Astros

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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CINCINNATI -- -Now that his hand is fully healed, Ken Griffey Jr. is climbing the home run list again.

Griffey hit his 569th career homer Thursday, a two-run shot that tied him for ninth place on the career list and helped the Cincinnati Reds get a breakthrough 9-5 victory over the Houston Astros.

Houston won the first three games of the series, improving to 5-0 at Great American Ball Park this season.

Pitcher Woody Williams and the Astros make themselves at home when they come here. Williams called a vendor over to the dugout and bought four bags of peanuts during the first inning, sharing them with teammates.

Griffey and Adam Dunn led the Reds to their elusive first win.

Cincinnati pulled ahead 7-0 after three innings against starter Matt Albers (1-2) and held on. Dunn hit a three-run homer, his sixth in the last 11 games, and added a triple and a double, coming up one single short of hitting for the cycle.

Griffey had a sacrifice fly and a two-run homer off Albers that left him tied with Rafael Palmeiro on the career list. Harmon Killebrew is eighth at 573.

"Just keep plugging away," Griffey said. "My thing was I was just trying to get the guy home from third, and it just happened to go out."

The 37-year-old outfielder has been on a tear since he moved back into his accustomed third spot in the batting order. Griffey has hit safely in seven of those eight games, with four of his six homers.

He missed most of spring training because of a broken left hand, suffered last December. The injury wound up helping him as a hitter.

"I wouldn't recommend it as a way to learn patience, but when you break your hand, you don't want to be swinging at too many pitches early," Griffey said. "It hurt the first three weeks of spring training. Look at how I took batting practice. The first couple of times, I didn't swing at very many balls."

Aaron Harang (5-1) struggled to hold the early lead, giving up Chris Burke's three-run homer as Houston cut it to 7-5. Then, the Reds sweated out more bullpen drama.

The Astros loaded the bases with one out in the eighth off left-hander Mike Stanton. Closer David Weathers escaped the threat after a frightful moment -- pinch-hitter Morgan Ensberg's potential grand-slam drive hooked foul down the line.

Ensberg took a few steps from the plate and pointed fair with his right hand, then gave up when he saw the ball hooking.

"Not close enough," Ensberg said. "Off the bat, I thought I might have a chance. I could tell pretty clearly it was going to be foul halfway (toward the pole)."

Weather recovered by striking him out on the next pitch, then finished it off for his seventh save in eight tries. Cincinnati's bullpen has only two saves since April 15.

"I'm screaming, 'Go foul,' and he's screaming, 'Go fair,"' Weathers said. "Luckily, it went foul. It was a slider. Then I struck him out with a slider. Bad slider. Good slider."

Houston was trying to reach .500 for the first time since April 23 and finish its first four-game sweep in Cincinnati since July 17-20, 2003, nine days before the Reds fired manager Bob Boone and general manager Jim Bowden.

Four years later, the Reds are in another free fall, finishing a 2-5 homestand that dropped them into last place in the NL Central. They trail the first-place Brewers by an imposing 9½ games.

For once, they managed to contain Lance Berkman, who homered in each of the first three games of the series. Berkman has been a huge problem for the Reds throughout his career -- 38 homers and 107 RBI, his highest totals against any team.

The Astros couldn't overcome a poor start by Albers, who got hit hard in his first career appearance at the homer-friendly ballpark. Dunn hit his team-high 11th homer in the first inning to set the tone, and added a triple off Albers in his next at-bat.

"You'd like to win four, no question," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "We had a lot of momentum going into this game, but they took it away from us early."

Dunn doubled in the fifth off Brian Moehler, leaving him only a single away from the cycle. No Reds players has achieved it since Eric Davis on June 2, 1989, against San Diego. Dunn grounded into a double play in the sixth, his final plate appearance.

David Ross added a two-run homer in the fifth off Moehler.

Notes

  • The Astros are 7-2 overall against the Reds this season.
  • Berkman went 6-for-14 during the series with three homers.
  • Burke's homer was his 200th career hit and his first homer since Sept. 12 at St. Louis.
  • Dunn has two triples this season, matching his career high.
  • 2B Brandon Phillips extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games.
 
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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Ken Griffey Jr. hits his 569th career homer, a two-run shot in the second inning off Matt Albers.  (AP)
Ken Griffey Jr. hits his 569th career homer, a two-run shot in the second inning off Matt Albers. (AP)

Players of the Game
Cincinnati

A. Dunn
AB 4
R 3
H 3
HR 1
RBI 3
Houston

C. Burke
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 3
 
Houston Astros
Orlando Palmeiro, RF5000001 .174
Mark Loretta, SS4110101 .375
Lance Berkman, 1B4220102 .296
Carlos Lee, LF5021023 .291
Luke Scott, CF4011002 .261
Mike Lamb, 3B4130000 .395
Chris Burke, 2B3113000 .238
Brad Ausmus, C4000004 .271
Matt Albers, P1000000 .143
    Brian Moehler, P2010010 .250
   a- Morgan Ensberg, PH1000013 .228
    Trever Miller, P0000000 .000
    Dave Borkowski, P0000000 .000
Totals37511524  
a-struck out for Moehler in the 8th
Batting
HR - Chris Burke (1, Harang)
RBI - Carlos Lee (32), Luke Scott (20), Chris Burke 3 (6)
2-OUT RBI - Carlos Lee (14), Luke Scott (5), Chris Burke 3 (4)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Moehler-Ausmus-Berkman, Berkman-Loretta-Moehler
Houston Astros
Matt Albers (L,1-2) 3977122 5.47
Brian Moehler 4522141 3.55
Trever Miller 0.2100110 6.00
Dave Borkowski 0.1000000 3.65
Pitches-Strikes - Matt Albers 68-44, Brian Moehler 61-43, Trever Miller 13-7, Dave Borkowski 1-1
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Albers 3-4, Brian Moehler 3-3, Trever Miller 1-0
Batters Faced - Matt Albers 19, Brian Moehler 16, Trever Miller 4, Dave Borkowski 1
Cincinnati Reds
Ryan Freel, 3B3220101 .272
Scott Hatteberg, 1B4110013 .295
   a- Jeff Conine, PH-1B0000100 .259
Ken Griffey Jr., RF3123112 .323
Brandon Phillips, 2B5120003 .277
Adam Dunn, LF4333001 .286
    Norris Hopper, LF0000000 .385
Josh Hamilton, CF3001011 .268
Juan Castro, SS4010011 .133
    David Weathers, P0000000 .000
David Ross, C4112021 .207
Aaron Harang, P3020010 .222
    Jon Coutlangus, P0000000 .000
    Mike Stanton, P0000000 .000
    Alex Gonzalez, SS1010000 .293
Totals34915937  
a-walked for Hatteberg in the 8th
Batting
2B - Ryan Freel (5, Albers), Adam Dunn (7, Moehler), Alex Gonzalez (7, Miller)
3B - Adam Dunn (2, Albers)
HR - Ken Griffey Jr. (6, Albers), Adam Dunn (11, Albers), David Ross (3, Moehler)
SF - Ken Griffey Jr. (1), Josh Hamilton (1)
SH - Ryan Freel (1)
RBI - Ken Griffey Jr. 3 (19), Adam Dunn 3 (24), Josh Hamilton (18), David Ross 2 (10)
2-OUT RBI - Ken Griffey Jr. 2 (5), David Ross 2 (4)
SB - Ryan Freel (8, 3rd base off Albers/Ausmus)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Ken Griffey Jr. 1
Cincinnati Reds
Aaron Harang (W,5-1) 6.2955121 5.04
Jon Coutlangus 0.1000000 4.22
Mike Stanton 0.1200000 7.84
David Weathers (S,7) 1.2000120 2.40
HBP - Burke (by Mike Stanton)
Pitches-Strikes - Aaron Harang 103-75, Jon Coutlangus 5-3, Mike Stanton 13-9, David Weathers 21-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Aaron Harang 7-10
Batters Faced - Aaron Harang 29, Jon Coutlangus 1, Mike Stanton 4, David Weathers 6
Game Information
Attendance - 25796
Game Time - 2:53
Temperature - 78
Umpires - Home - Tim Timmons, First Base - Rick Reed, Second Base - Chuck Meriwether, Third Base - Alfonso Marquez