With Griffey on a May tear, the Reds (18-31) look to avoid a season-high fifth loss in a row as they continue a four-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates (20-27) on Saturday night.
Griffey hit his 574th home run in the sixth inning Friday night, moving him past Harmon Killebrew into eighth place on the career list. Cincinnati, though, lost 10-4 as the Pirates scored eight runs in the 10th inning.
Griffey leads the majors with 10 home runs in May, and is batting .330 with 21 RBIs this month.
The 37-year-old right fielder has 11 homers overall after getting off to a slow start this year, missing most of spring training while recovering from a broken left hand. He also missed some time during the regular season because of an inflamed digestive tract and pleurisy.
The Reds left 10 runners on base Friday and tied a season high with four straight losses. Cincinnati has dropped 18 of 22, leaving it with the major league’s worst record.
“Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen a lot of things that I couldn’t believe, and I’ve been in this game a long time,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said. “I’ve talked to them a few times. I’ve patted them on the back. I’ve kicked them in the rear. You’ve got to get it done on the field.”
The Reds’ latest loss came against a team that had lost five in a row and is just three games ahead of them in the NL Central.
Pittsburgh was struggling at the plate before breaking out in the 10th, its biggest inning since scoring nine runs on July 9, 2004 against Montreal. The Pirates had scored just 10 runs over their previous four games.
“It’s a strange game,” Pittsburgh right fielder Xavier Nady said. “Everybody here has been struggling.
Shawn Chacon (1-0, 3.48 ERA) will make his first start of the season for the Pirates, replacing the struggling Tony Armas. Chacon started 20 games for Pittsburgh and the New York Yankees in 2006, going 6-6 with a 6.06 ERA.
The right-hander struggled in his last appearance, giving up three runs and three hits in two innings of relief in a 9-4 loss to St. Louis on Tuesday night.
Chacon has not factored in a decision in two appearances against the Reds this season, posting a 7.20 ERA. He is 0-0 with a 7.25 ERA in six appearances with three starts against them.
Cincinnati will counter with Bronson Arroyo (2-4, 3.41 ERA), coming off his worst start of the season. He allowed six runs and six hits in two innings before the Reds came back to win 8-7 over Washington on Monday night.
The right-hander’s ERA was 2.64 heading into that start.
Arroyo is 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA in three career starts against Pittsburgh, where he played from 2000-2002.