Coco Crisp’s three-run double with two outs in the eighth inning helped Cleveland come from behind again to beat Cincinnati 8-7, handing the Reds their fifth straight loss.
Griffey Jr. remained stalled in his pursuit of 500 career homers, and the Reds’ slide continued as they failed to hold a 5-2 lead after five innings for the second straight night.
“I live for those kind of moments,” said Crisp, one of many stars in Cleveland’s comeback. “We didn’t give up and that shows we have character— and heart.”
The streaky Indians, who have won nine times in their final at-bat this season, scored twice in the seventh and four times in the eighth—capped by Crisp’s double—off three Cincinnati relievers.
Phil Norton (0-2) lost for the second time in 24 hours.
Griffey went 0-for-4, striking out twice and drawing an intentional walk. He’s still two shy of becoming the 20th player in history to join the 500-homer club.
Before recording their 11th comeback win of 2004, the Indians trailed 5-4 entering the eighth.
Belliard’s hustle then kept the inning alive.
“I got a good jump on it,” said Belliard, who popped up signaling “safe” in unison with second base umpire Lance Barksdale. “He (Lopez) wasn’t even touching the base, and the ump did a good job calling me safe.”
Belliard’s heads-up baserunning allowed Crisp to become a hero.
“Coco’s hit doesn’t happen if Ronnie doesn’t bust his butt to get to second,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “I can’t say enough about Ronnie, he plays the game the way it should be played.”
Crisp worked the count to 3-2 against Graves before ripping his double off the fence in front of Cincinnati’s bullpen, scoring three to make it 8-5.
Crisp also drove in a run in the seventh, giving him four RBIs one night after he matched a career high with four hits.
“I’m just going for fours,” he said, smiling. “Maybe I’ll hit four homers or four doubles next. Nah, just kindding.”
As usual, Cleveland’s shaky bullpen made things interesting in the ninth.
Jason LaRue hit a three-run homer for the Reds, who have dropped five straight—all on the road.
“I’m not pointing fingers and I’m not naming names, but we’ve got to play better,” said manager Dave Miley, who was particularly upset with his team’s inability to get the forceout on Broussard’s roller.
“We’ve got to take the out,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. We’re not too happy about it. They showed the replay. He flipped it and it didn’t look like Lopez got there.”
Griffey, who just missed hitting two homers on Friday, popped out to foul territory in his first at-bat and struck out swinging to end the third as Scott Elarton blew a fastball by him.
Elarton, making his Cleveland debut, chose not to mess with Griffey in the fifth and walked him intentionally. In the sixth, Griffey came up with runners at the corners and two outs, but fanned against left-hander Cliff Bartosh.
He grounded out to second in the ninth inning.
On each of Griffey’s swings, light bulbs flickered throughout the nearly sold out Jacbos Field by fans—several thousand from Cincinnati—trying to freeze frame history.
The Indians were again without catcher Victor Martinez, their best hitter and probable All-Star, who missed his second straight game with a sprainedright foot.
Cavaliers guard LeBron James, the NBA’s rookie of the year and soon-to-be U.S. Olympian, visited with Griffey before the game. Later, James watched from a TV booth wearing C.C. Sabathia’s red 1975 Indians “throwback” jersey, a gift from the pitcher. … C Sandy Martinez started for Cleveland. It was his first appearance in a major league game since April 2, 2001, forMontreal.