Any rumors of Ken Griffey Jr.’s decline have been premature.
Griffey hit two homers to help the Reds to a 5-4 win on Friday. The 35-year-old center fielder, who had missed more than half of his team’s games from the beginning of 2001 through 2004 due to injuries, posted the 51st multihomer game of his career. He now has 515 career homers, good enough for 16th on the all-time homer list, six behind Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Willie McCovey.
The last-place Reds snapped an eight-game road losing streak and improved to 3-0 under Narron, who took over after Dave Miley was fired on Tuesday.
“Any time you win it is fun, but Jerry’s a good guy and let’s keep it going,” said Griffey, who went 3-for-4 on Friday and is batting .347 (35-for-101) with 23 RBIs in his last 26 games.
Narron said he figured it was just a matter of time before Griffey started hitting with authority.
“I’m not surprised at what he’s doing,” Narron said. “His slow start was a matter of him getting his legs. He hits with his legs and he wasn’t able to do that earlier.”
Griffey has had his way with the Indians during his career, batting .299 (146-for-488) with 33 homers and 92 RBIs in 126 games.
Jose Hernandez homered twice for Cleveland, which despite the loss is a major league-best 13-3 in interleague play.
The Indians, who have lost four straight following their season-high nine-game winning streak, will look to get back into the win column on Saturday when they give the ball to surging Jake Westbrook.
Westbrook had been expected to build on his career year in 2004, when he went 14-9 and earned an All-Star appearance. However, the Indians, batting a league-worst .252, have scored only 15 runs in his nine losses this year.
Of late, the 27-year-old right-hander has started to make the most of his limited support, winning three of his last five starts.
Westbrook gave up two runs and five hits over eight innings in Cleveland’s 3-2 win over Arizona on Sunday, as he improved to 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA in his last five outings at Jacobs Field.
“You try to pitch the same whether it is close or you have a big lead,” said Westbrook, who has given up two runs or less in eight of his last 10 starts. “I try not to think of the score, but it’s tough. I’m mentally more into it in a one-run game, just because you have to be.”