Reds 11, Giants 10
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—With the game on the line, Ken Griffey Jr. faced the worst sun he had seen in his 17 major league seasons, and his ninth-inning misplays in center field certainly had the Reds fearing another heartbreaking road defeat.
“It’s one of those things that if you keep playing and keep battling, things are going to happen,” said Griffey, who hit his 517th career home run in the third. “Fortunately, especially in the ninth with the two balls hit at me, we got a break and they weren’t able to score the tying run.”
Jason LaRue hit a tiebreaking three-run double and finished with a career-high six RBIs, and his big day helped the Reds end a four-game road losing streak and win away from Great American Ball Park for just the third time in their last 19.
LaRue hit a two-run homer in the third following his second-inning sacrifice fly, then lined a double to right in the sixth with the bases loaded. LaRue had six RBIs in his previous 14 games.
“I never worried. I know I can do what I’m doing,” he said.
He wasn’t the only one to produce some big hits.
Wily Mo Pena hit a three-run homer in the fourth that extended his career-best hitting streak to 10 games for the Reds, who opened a seven-game road trip with an impressive power display.
Griffey hit his 16th homer of the season leading off the third, moving within four of tying Willie McCovey and Ted Williams for 14th on the career list.
“All I can say is, wow,” Reds interim manager Jerry Narron said. “Jason LaRue had a huge day for us.”
Ryan Wagner (3-2) pitched two innings for his first win since May 27. Kent Mercker allowed back-to-back doubles to pinch-hitter Pedro Feliz and Moises Alou to start the ninth—Griffey said he couldn’t see either ball—and was replaced by Belisle, who got the final three outs for his first major league save.
“I love it!” he said. “It was awesome.”
San Francisco’s J.T. Snow doubled among his three hits, drove in two runs, and made a remarkable stop at first with the bases loaded in the second. He dove to knock the ball down, then threw from a seated position on the ground to pitcher Kirk Rueter on the bag.
Alou had two RBI doubles and Michael Tucker doubled twice, had an RBI single and scored three runs for the Giants, who lost their third straight following a four-game winning streak.
After San Francisco went ahead on Deivi Cruz’s solo home run in the fifth, the Reds tied the game at 8 in the sixth when Rich Aurilia scored on a passed ball by Jack Taschner, which spoiled a chance for Jeremy Accardo (0-2) to notch his first major league win.
Elizardo Ramirez, recalled before the game from Triple-A Louisville and sent back down afterward, failed to pick up his first major league victory in his fourth big league start. He has allowed a home run in each start. This was his first start since May 26 and first appearance since June 3.
The Giants scored the tying run in the fourth when Ramirez failed to hold onto a throw from Felipe Lopez trying to complete a double play at first.
Ramirez gave up a single to Snow moments later, and he was done after 3 2-3 innings. The right-hander was tagged for seven runs on three hits and he walked two.
Rueter allowed a season-high three homers after giving up only four homers in 17 previous games against the Reds.
Rueter, who hasn’t won since beating the Astros in Houston on May 13, also saw his winless stretch reach nine starts and he has a five-game losing streak during that span.
He allowed seven runs and nine hits in four innings, struck out two and walked four.
Manager Felipe Alou said afterward the Giants would discuss whether to keep the struggling left-hander in the rotation.
“It’s an uphill battle,” he said of the rotation. “Coming into spring training, we had what I thought was a very good situation with the starting rotation. We’re scoring enough runs to win games. You say we need Barry Bonds, but this team hits.”
It was Griffey’s first homer on the Fourth of July. There are just 13 calendar days between March 31 and Oct. 3 on which he hasn’t homered. … Aurilia, the Reds’ 2B who spent parts of nine seasons with the Giants, is still a fan favorite at SBC Park. He received a warm ovation when the batting order was announced and again during his first at-bat. … Rueter allowed four homers in six June starts. He has walked four in each of his last three starts and four of five. … The Reds sent LHP Randy Keisler to Triple-A Louisville for a rehab assignment. He’s been on the DL since June 26 with left elbow inflammation. … LaRue has had five RBIs in a game twice. … The Reds will purchase the contract of RHP Jason Standridge from Triple-A Louisville on Tuesday.