CINCINNATI (AP)—Ken Griffey Jr. let the glare speak for itself.
Griffey stared angrily into the Florida Marlins’ dugout after he rounded third base on his 492nd career homer Tuesday night, a three-run shot that sent the surging Cincinnati Reds to a 5-2 victory and left some feelings ruffled.
For the third time in five days, an opposing manager chose to intentionally walk Sean Casey, the NL’s leading hitter, to get to Griffey with a game on the line.
The All-Century outfielder evidently is taking it personally.
“Junior has a tendency to respond well to criticism and controversy and challenges,” said shortstop Barry Larkin, who also homered. “Walking the guy in front of him is definitely a challenge.”
Griffey also has a tendency to avoid reporters after a high-profile game, and did so on Tuesday.
The glare had everybody else talking.
“That’s something about Griff,” said Casey, who is hitting .379. “He can turn on the switch when he gets angry.”
He evidently was angry at Marlins manager Jack McKeon, who decided to have Josh Beckett face Griffey in the sixth inning with the game tied at 1. McKeon played the odds, figuring Beckett had a better chance of getting Griffey, who strikes out more than twice as often as Casey.
Plus, Griffey had never hit a homer off Beckett, the World Series MVP.
McKeon managed Griffey in Cincinnati in 2000, when he came to his hometown team in a trade. McKeon was fired after a second-place finish that year, and went on to lead the Marlins to a World Series title last season.
McKeon didn’t see the glare and passed it off as a natural reaction to having someone intentionally walked.
“I think everybody would be (thinking): ‘I’ll fix you,”’ McKeon said.
Beckett didn’t see the glare, either, but was upset when told about it.
“I’m glad you told me that,” he said. “I didn’t see it. I do take offense to that.”
Beckett said he didn’t care “if he’s a Hall of Famer or not. I don’t think I’ll forget it. I don’t know what he’s staring at.”
Only Griffey knew for sure.
His third homer in three games kept Paul Wilson (7-0) on the best start of his career and extended the Reds’ winning streak to seven games, their longest in two years. Cincinnati has the NL’s best record at 27-18 after winning 10 of its last 11 games.
Larkin added a solo homer and a run-scoring single, helping the Reds hold onto first place in the NL Central for a second day.
Wilson, who has never had a winning record or more than eight victories in any season, joined Houston’s Roger Clemens at 7-0 with another solid performance.
The right-hander gave up seven hits in seven innings, including Miguel Cabrera’s tying RBI single in the sixth as a thunderstorm approached. Fans were urged to leave the exposed upper deck in the middle of the inning.
With heavy rain falling, Ryan Freel singled to open the Reds’ sixth, then took second on Larkin’s groundout. Casey was intentionally walked to bring up Griffey.
Beckett became the 310th pitcher to give up a homer to Griffey, who passed Fred McGriff into 21st place on the career list.
Houston manager Jimy Williams intentionally walked Casey twice to face Griffey during the Reds’ recently completed four-game sweep. Griffey hit a tiebreaking RBI double in a 7-4 win on Friday, then grounded out in a sweep-clinching 7-5 victory on Monday night.
Wilson, 31, has been a cornerstone for the Reds’ turnaround, evolving into their most dependable starter. He had never beaten the Marlins, going 0-3 with a 4.50 ERA in eight previous appearances.
Cabrera also had a run-scoring double in the eighth among his three hits.Mike Lowell added three doubles for the Marlins, tying the club record.
Florida’s Wil Cordero, on the DL since May 17, had arthroscopic surgery Tuesday on his left knee. He’ll have the same procedure on the other knee in two weeks. … It was the 10th time a Marlin had three doubles in a game. Lowell has done it three times. … Casey was 0-for-3 with the walk, droppinghis average from .386 to .379.