Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

Scoreboard
Pittsburgh (38-44)010002000390
Cincinnati (39-45) «001001002480

Griffey comes off bench, hits two-run, walk-off homer

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

CINCINNATI -- Darren Baker hasn't yet learned the distinction between old and vintage.

The 9-year-old son of Reds manager Dusty Baker playfully called Ken Griffey Jr. old on Monday, then watched the 38-year-old outfielder end the game with a swing that was as sweet as ever. His two-run shot -- the 603rd of his career -- sent Cincinnati to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Just like old times.

The fifth game-ending homer of Griffey's career decided a matchup of the NL Central's bottom two teams. It also suggested he's far from over-the-hill, regardless of what the manager's son thinks.

"You try not to do that too many times," said Griffey, who has 10 homers. "You'd like to play 8½ and shake hands, but shaking hands at home plate isn't bad, either."

Griffey connected off Matt Capps (1-3), who started the ninth with a 3-2 lead and gave it away in only six pitches. David Ross opened with a double to deep center that brought up Griffey, who got into the game as a defensive replacement in the ninth.

Griffey was out of the starting lineup, getting some rest with left-hander Paul Maholm starting for Pittsburgh. He had some fun with it before the game, jokingly asking Baker's son why he wasn't playing.

Darren Baker's answer: "You can't hit lefties, and you're old!"

Griffey laughed. He also got the last laugh by connecting on Capps' changeup.

"It just worked out like that," Dusty Baker said. "We were hoping to get him into the game. They've got a ton of left-handers over there."

Capps, a right-hander, finished June in a fitting way. The closer converted his first 15 save chances before blowing one on June 10. He has now blown four of his last six chances.

"It's been a rough month," Capps said. "I gave up a home run to a Hall of Famer tonight. Tonight's was probably the easiest one to do. He's a pretty good hitter. It was down and had some movement on it."

Francisco Cordero (3-1) escaped a bases-loaded threat in the ninth, helping the Reds move a percentage point ahead of the Pirates.

Adam LaRoche hit a sacrifice fly and a two-run homer off Aaron Harang, allowing the Pirates to take a 3-2 lead into the ninth. LaRoche hit the sacrifice fly in the second, and broke a 1-all tie in the sixth inning with his eighth homer, one of his three hits overall.

It was a breakout game for LaRoche, who was batting .196 in his last 27 games.

"We've been waiting on it," manager John Russell said. "You see signs of it. I think he's starting to feel a lot more comfortable. That would be a big lift for us if he gets going like he's capable."

It came down to the two bullpens.

Harang had just finished icing his shoulder and was standing in the clubhouse by his locker, talking to Adam Dunn, when Griffey came to bat.

"Dunner said he had a feeling Junior was going to do something," Harang said. "Ross got the double, and the next thing you know Junior is going around the bases."

Maholm held the Reds to a pair of runs and five hits in seven innings. Jerry Hairston Jr. hit a solo homer, and Jay Bruce drove in a run by hitting into a forceout.

With little at stake in the standings, the Pirates used the series opener to experiment with the batting order. For the first time since 1957, their starting pitcher batted somewhere other than last.

Maholm moved up to eighth and shortstop Jack Wilson batted ninth, making the Pirates the third NL Central team to try the unorthodox move this season. St. Louis and Milwaukee also have batted their pitchers eighth.

Russell's move didn't have much effect on the outcome. The bottom three batters in the order were a combined 2-for-10 and failed to score or drive in a run. Wilson ended up leading off an inning twice after Maholm made a final out.

"Interesting," Russell said. "It kind of worked in our favor a couple of times."

The Pirates also had to make one unplanned lineup move. Leadoff hitter Nate McLouth was a late scratch because of a sore left knee.

Notes

  • Russell tentatively plans to start RH John Van Benschoten on Wednesday.
  • The Pirates hadn't batted their starting pitcher higher than ninth since April 18, 1957, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
  • OF Jason Bay extended his hitting streak to eight games.
  • OF Jason Michael struck out four times.
  • In his first eight games, Bruce batted .552 with three homers and seven RBI. In his last 24 games, he's batting .194 with one homer and eight RBI.
 
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. blasts his 603rd career homer after coming in as a defensive replacement.  (AP)
Ken Griffey Jr. blasts his 603rd career homer after coming in as a defensive replacement. (AP)

Players of the Game
Cincinnati

K. Griffey
AB 1
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
Pittsburgh

A. LaRoche
AB 3
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 3
 

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Pittsburgh Pirates
Freddy Sanchez, 2B4010010 .233
Jason Michaels, CF5000042 .230
Jason Bay, LF4010112 .284
Ryan Doumit, C4110104 .344
Xavier Nady, RF4110013 .315
Adam LaRoche, 1B3133000 .230
Doug Mientkiewicz, 3B4010014 .265
    Damaso Marte, P0000000 .000
    Matt Capps, P0000000 .000
Paul Maholm, P3000021 .161
    Jose Bautista, 3B0000100 .259
Jack Wilson, SS3010000 .312
Totals34393310  
Batting
2B - Ryan Doumit (14, Harang), Xavier Nady (21, Harang)
HR - Adam LaRoche (8, Harang)
SF - Adam LaRoche (3)
SH - Freddy Sanchez (6)
RBI - Adam LaRoche 3 (34)
Team LOB - 10
Pittsburgh Pirates
Paul Maholm 7522251 4.28
Damaso Marte (H,15) 1100120 3.18
Matt Capps (BS,4; L,1-3)0222001 2.97
HBP - Encarnacion (by Paul Maholm)
Pitches-Strikes - Paul Maholm 89-60, Damaso Marte 26-19, Matt Capps 6-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Paul Maholm 7-9, Damaso Marte 1-0
Batters Faced - Paul Maholm 29, Damaso Marte 5, Matt Capps 2
Cincinnati Reds
Jerry Hairston Jr., CF-LF4121000 .329
Jeff Keppinger, SS4010000 .320
Adam Dunn, LF3000112 .221
    Corey Patterson, PR-CF0000000 .189
Brandon Phillips, 2B4120012 .279
Joey Votto, 1B3000114 .280
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B2010112 .248
Jay Bruce, RF3001002 .279
   a- Javier Valentin, PH1000002 .219
    Francisco Cordero, P0000000 .000
David Ross, C4010024 .244
    Daryl Thompson, PR0100000 .000
Aaron Harang, P2000011 .176
   b- Norris Hopper, PH1000000 .200
    Jared Burton, P0000000 .000
    Ken Griffey Jr., RF1112000 .237
Totals3248437  
a-grounded out for Bruce in the 8th
b-grounded out for Harang in the 7th
Batting
2B - Jerry Hairston Jr. (15, Maholm), David Ross (5, Capps)
HR - Jerry Hairston Jr. (2, Maholm), Ken Griffey Jr. (10, Capps)
RBI - Jerry Hairston Jr. (15), Jay Bruce (15), Ken Griffey Jr. 2 (36)
Team LOB - 8
Cincinnati Reds
Aaron Harang 7733181 4.47
Jared Burton 1200010 2.28
Francisco Cordero (W,3-1) 1000210 2.52
HBP - J. Wilson (by Francisco Cordero)
Pitches-Strikes - Aaron Harang 104-74, Jared Burton 14-9, Francisco Cordero 27-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Aaron Harang 7-6, Jared Burton 1-1, Francisco Cordero 2-0
Batters Faced - Aaron Harang 29, Jared Burton 5, Francisco Cordero 6
Game Information
Attendance - 20745
Game Time - 2:37
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Chad Fairchild, First Base - Mark Wegner, Second Base - Jeff Kellogg, Third Base - Rob Drake