Cincinnati’s Ken Griffey Jr. is moving up the all-time home run list, and lately, he’s been rising fast.
Griffey hit his 568th career home run in Cincinnati’s 7-6 loss to Houston on Tuesday. The 37-year-old outfielder has hit all five of his homers this season in his last 11 games.
He is hitting .467 with four homers in eight games since missing four starts with pleurisy, an inflammation in the lining of a cavity surrounding the lungs. Harmon Killebrew is eighth on the home-run list with 573, four more than Palmeiro’s 569.
However, Griffey’s surge at the plate hasn’t prevented the Reds (14-19) from dropping six of their last seven games. Cincinnati’s bullpen has been a big part of the problem, allowing 13 runs in 22 2-3 innings and blowing two saves over that span.
On Tuesday, rookie reliever Brad Salmon gave up a Lance Berkman homer that erased a 6-5 lead, before veteran closer David Weathers allowed Morgan Ensberg’s double in the ninth to drive in the eventual winning run.
“We know we’re blowing games,” Weathers said. “It hurts us personally. It’s more frustrating for us than for anybody.”
Berkman has hit 14 homers at Great American - the most by any visiting player - and has 37 career homers and 105 RBIs against Cincinnati - his highest totals against any team. He has reached base in 26 straight games.
Carlos Lee also homered in the first inning for the Astros (15-17), who have won five of seven. The homer was his first in 77 at-bats dating back to April 17.
“(Coming from behind) is a great trait to have,” said Houston manager Phil Garner, whose club recorded its eighth comeback win of 2007. “Once you do that a few times, you start to believe.”
Matt Belisle (3-1, 4.10 ERA) will look to help Cincinnati bounce back after allowing five runs and nine hits in six innings of the Reds’ 11-inning, 6-5 loss to Colorado on Friday. Belisle, a converted reliever who was making his 13th career start, was coming off the first complete game of his career, an 8-1 five-hitter at Pittsburgh.
Belisle has made nine career appearances against the Astros, going 0-2 with a 3.65 ERA. His only start against them came on May 31, 2005, when he allowed three runs in five innings of a 4-3 road loss.
Houston will counter with Woody Williams (0-5, 5.49), who allowed three runs in six innings of Friday’s 3-2 loss at St. Louis. The 40-year-old right-hander, who is 0-5 for the first time in his 15-year career, has allowed just three runs while going at least six innings in each of his last three starts, but has lost all of them.
Williams is 8-5 with a 5.52 ERA in 20 career starts versus the Reds, but is 0-2 with a 7.62 ERA in seven starts against them since his last win in the series on June 19, 2004.
Griffey is 13-for-31 (.419) with five homers in his career against Williams, putting him in a four-way tie for the most home runs against the Astros starter.