Reds 6, Brewers 1

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MILWAUKEE (AP)—Ken Griffey Jr. still has it. Ben Sheets and Bob Boone will attest to that.

Griffey homered for the fourth straight game, and Ryan Dempster pitched seven strong innings as the Cincinnati Reds ended an eight-game losing streak by beating the Milwaukee Brewers 6-1 Friday night.

“He’s one a day, like a vitamin,” said Boone, Cincinnati’s manager.

Griffey’s home run, the 480th of his career, was a towering 405-foot shot to right that capped off a four-run sixth inning for Cincinnati.

“You’ve got to be precise, especially against Griffey,” Sheets said. “He ain’t closing in on 500 for no reason, you know. It showed today. He’s still got it.”

The Reds’ big inning broke a scoreless tie and allowed them to take control of the game.

D’Angelo Jimenez led off with a triple that was just out of the reach of right fielder John Vander Wal, and came home on a grounder by Barry Larkin. Third baseman Wes Helms fielded the grounder and threw wildly to home, allowing Larkin to take second. Jose Guillen then drove in Larkin with a single before Griffey homered.

The last time Griffey, who also struck out three times and walked once, homered in four straight games was May 20-23, 1994.

The homer came on the last pitch thrown by Sheets (7-7), who allowed four runs on six hits. He struck out four and walked none.

“I threw 20 pitches that inning and none of them were good,” Sheets said of the sixth.

“He was sailing right along,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. “He just started leaving pitches up and they took advantage.”

Dempster (3-6), who was relieved by Felix Heredia to start the eighth, allowed eight hits, seven of which came in three innings. Dempster struck out six and walked two.

Milwaukee center fielder Scott Podsednik doubled with two outs in the ninth inning to reach base for the 41st consecutive game, the longest such streak in the majors this season.

The Brewers blew a chance in the fourth when they loaded the bases with none out on a walk to Geoff Jenkins and singles by Richie Sexson and Vander Wal. Dempster struck out Helms and, after falling behind 3-0, got Keith Osik to hit into a double play to end the inning.

“I’ve struggled since I’ve come off the disabled list (June 7),” Dempster said. “Tonight was huge, going pitch for pitch with Sheets. The fourth was big, really big. I really think, when you do a thing like that, you fire the guys up offensively.

“Today was the most relaxed I’ve been all year. This is a tough game mentally. I’m hoping to go into the second half, getting 16-17 starts and grind away.”

Helms drove in Milwaukee’s lone run with a two-out single in the sixth that scored Vander Wal.

The Reds added two insurance runs in the eighth against reliever Leo Estrella. Guillen had an RBI double, his third hit, and later scored on a throwing error by Estrella.

“We finally had a big game,” Boone said. “Dempster was magnificent. Hewas really pumping strikes. This was his best outing of the year.”

Notes

All-Stars Sexson (25) and Jenkins (20) are the first Brewer teammates to hit 20 home runs prior to the All-Star break. … The Reds are 1-5-2 in their last eight series. … Guillen, who doubled and singled twice, continues to play while appealing his two-game suspension for bumping umpire Matt Hallowell on June 25 at St. Louis. “He’s probably our MVP right now,” Boonesaid. ‘He’s come up with some big hits.”

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