Dodgers 9, Reds 3

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CINCINNATI (AP)—Left-hander Eric Milton blew out an anguished breath and stared ahead, his eyes wide with disbelief, while Jason Phillips rounded the bases and changed the game.

Again, a home run had done Milton in.

Phillips’ first career grand slam topped a stellar performance by Ken Griffey Jr. and rallied the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 9-3 victory Sunday night over the struggling Cincinnati Reds.

The NL West leaders overcame a pair of contrasting solo homers—Milton’s first, Griffey’s 504th—and sent the Reds to their ninth loss in 10 games. Phillips had four hits and drove in five for the first time in his career.

Phillips hadn’t hit a grand slam since he was a senior in high school. He couldn’t remember a game like this one, not even as a kid.

“I don’t recall that—ever,” said Phillips, 28. “I’m smiles right now. It was a very lucky night.”

As it often happens, this one got away from Milton (2-3) because he got a pitch up at the wrong time.

Trailing 2-1, the Dodgers loaded the bases with none out in the sixth on three consecutive singles. After Olmedo Seanz flied out to Griffey in center— much too shallow to get in a run—Phillips hit a belt-high, first-pitch fastball into the seats in left field for his first homer of the season.

Last year, Milton gave up 43 homers, most in the NL. Milton Bradley also homered Sunday off Milton, who has given up 13 so far, the most in the majors.

“I’m at a loss right now,” Milton said. “I’ve tried about everything. I’ve let the team down early in the season. I feel bad for the fans. It’s all on me. I’ve got to figure something out and turn this thing around. It can’t get worse.”

Jeff Weaver (4-2) doubled home a run and pitched out of a bases-loaded threat during his 6 2-3 innings. He gave up six hits, including the two solo homers, and had a season-high eight strikeouts.

His biggest test came in the sixth, when the Reds loaded the bases with one out. Weaver got Joe Randa on a fly to shallow center, then struck out Rich Aurilia to end Cincinnati’s last, best chance.

“With that lineup they have, there’s going to be one or two innings where you’re going to have to grind it out,” Weaver said. “In the sixth, I just had to make something happen.”

Weaver also drew a warning after he hit Griffey on his surgically repaired right hamstring the next time he faced him after the homer. Griffey smiled at Weaver as he walked to first base, and plate umpire Terry Craft pointed to both benches. There were no more problems.

Until Phillips turned it with one swing, the game was a showcase for Griffey, who stretched to catch Bradley’s drive at the top of the wall in the fourth.

In the bottom of the inning, he hit his first no-doubt homer of the season, a drive estimated at 417 feet to center. Griffey’s 504th homer tied him with Eddie Murray for 19th on the career list.

The homer also extended Griffey’s hitting streak to 12 games, his best in five seasons with his hometown team, and provided more evidence that he’s starting to round into form after hamstring surgery last August. Griffey failed to homer in 48 spring-training at-bats, and went 79 at-bats before hitting his first this season—the longest opening drought of his career.

His first homer barely cleared the wall in Milwaukee, and the second never made it that far, bouncing off the top of the wall in center at Great American Ball Park before being incorrectly ruled a homer.

No. 3 left the bat with an authoritative “crack” and headed for the seats while Griffey took a couple of steps and admired it. Two innings later, the first pitch from Weaver hit him in the leg, drawing the warning.

Griffey wasn’t available to comment after the game.

Milton had to improvise a home run trot in the third, when he hit one that barely cleared the wall in left. It was his first homer in 97 career at-bats.

Notes

Phillips’ grand slam was the first off a Reds pitcher this season. … Phillips also had four hits on June 27, 2003, against the Yankees. … Weaver is the 319th pitcher that has given up a homer to Griffey. Griffey had been 0-for-11 off the right-hander. … Griffey’s longest hitting streak was 16 games in 1999. … OF J.D. Drew was out of the Dodgers lineup, getting a day of rest. … Reds 1B Sean Casey hit into his ninth and 10th double plays, most in the majors. … The Reds are 7-13 in Sunday night games on ESPN.

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