Ken Griffey Jr. looks to continue his home run streak and possibly help the Cincinnati Reds pull into a tie atop the NL Central when they open a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians at Great American Ball Park on Friday.
Griffey homered for the fourth straight game in the Reds’ 6-5 victory over Kansas City on Thursday, and is one game shy of tying the club record that he shares.
Griffey, 11th on the career home run list with 552, homered in five straight games in 2003 to tie the mark set by Ted Kluszewski in 1954 and equaled by Johnny Bench in 1972.
Griffey’s current streak began with a two-run homer in a 4-2 victory over the Indians (35-42) on Sunday. Cincinnati (43-36) took two of three from the Indians last weekend, winning its first series over its intrastate rival since the first year of interleague play in 1997.
Adam Dunn also homered Thursday and drove in the winning run with a double in the eighth inning.
The victory gave the Reds consecutive wins on the same homestand for the first time since beating Milwaukee May 22-23. Cincinnati has gone 5-12 at Great American Ball Park since.
“It’s good to win them at home so people don’t really think it’s a misprint in the paper seeing our record,” said Dunn, who batted second for the second time in three games. “Whenever we come home, we don’t play very well.”
Despite their problems at home, the Reds trail struggling St. Louis by one game for the NL Central lead.
Cincinnati’s Elizardo Ramirez (3-6, 3.61 ERA) will try to beat Cleveland for the second time in less than a week Friday.
Ramirez allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-2 victory Sunday. The win was his first since May 23 after going 0-3 with a 3.66 ERA in his next five starts.
The 23-year-old right-hander is 1-1 with a 4.73 ERA in two career starts against the Indians.
Cleveland ended a string of seven straight series losses by winning its first two games over St. Louis, but couldn’t complete the sweep Wednesday.
“It was a total defensive collapse,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. “We gave it back to them a lot easier than we took it from them. It was an embarrassing ending to what potentially could have been a real big game for us.”
Grady Sizemore went 4-for-5 with an RBI and is batting .415 (17-for-41) with three homers and 10 runs during a 10-game hitting streak.
Paul Byrd (6-5, 4.37) looks to duplicate the outing he had against the Reds last weekend when he takes the mound Friday.
Byrd allowed five hits and didn’t walk a batter in eight innings of Saturday’s 4-0 win.
“These guys have scored a lot of runs for me this year and today was my turn to pick them up,” said Byrd, who receives an average of 7.48 runs of support. “Attitude has so much to do with (success) in this game. At times, you feel snakebit and are playing not to lose instead of playing to win.”
The right-hander is in the midst of his best stretch of the season, going 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA in his last four starts.
Byrd is 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 12 games against Cincinnati.