Reds 4, Rockies 3
CINCINNATI (AP)—With a game-turning homer and a lead-saving throw, Ken Griffey Jr. reminded everyone of what he can be as long as he’s healthy.
Griffey hit a tiebreaking solo homer and nailed a runner at the plate in the eighth inning Friday night, helping the Cincinnati Reds hold on for a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies that became another signature Junior moment.
“He’s making a statement this year,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s got some gas left in that tank, no doubt about it.”
No one ever doubted what Griffey could do when healthy. He won 10 Gold Gloves and grew into an All-Century slugger in Seattle, then returned to his hometown in a 2000 trade that was the beginning of his decline.
Injuries reduced him to an afterthought in his first five seasons with the Reds. The low point came last year, when he tore his right hamstring from the bone in early August. Three screws now hold it in place.
“People have to understand, I’ve just been hurt,” said Griffey, who leads the Reds with 59 RBIs. “I haven’t forgotten how to play baseball.”
His goal for this season was to stay in the lineup. He passed a milestone in that regard on Friday, playing in his 84th game—one more than last year and the most since 2001, his second season in Cincinnati.
Instead of breaking down, he’s getting better.
“Griffey’s trying to be an All-Century player in two centuries,” interim manager Jerry Narron said.
Griffey’s 519th career homer off Jason Jennings (5-9) snapped a 1-all tie in the sixth and redirected a matchup of the NL’s two worst teams. Adam Dunn added a two-run shot in the eighth, helping Aaron Harang get his first victory since May 30.
Harang (5-8) emerged from his deep slump by limiting the Rockies to a run and three hits in seven innings. The right-hander was 0-6 in his last seven starts with a 5.91 ERA, helping the Reds’ rotation sink to the bottom of the league.
The Rockies have the NL’s worst record at 31-57 and have been particularly bad on the road, going 7-34. They couldn’t get anything going in the ballpark that has yielded more homers than their own Coors Field this season—an average of three per game, the most in the majors.
All-Star shortstop Felipe Lopez had two of the five hits off Jennings, who made another solid start but didn’t get much help. In his last 10 games, the right-hander has gone 4-3 with a 3.48 ERA.
Jennings helped make Rockies history in his last start, throwing seven shutout innings against San Diego to set up the first 1-0 victory at Coors Field.
“Seven innings, two runs—I’ll take that every time out,” Jennings said. “But I don’t want to pitch good, I want to win. I didn’t make one run hold up tonight. I did the other night.”
Lopez singled and came around on Sean Casey’s RBI single in the first inning, ending Jennings’ shutout streak. Griffey homered on the first pitch he saw in the sixth, a fastball over the outside half of the plate that he drove into the seats in right field.
Griffey remained 16th on the career list, two behind Ted Williams and Willie McCovey.
Harang allowed a run in the fifth, when Piedra doubled and came around on Danny Ardoin’s soft liner to center that landed in front of Griffey for a single. Harang left for a pinch-hitter in the seventh, having thrown 107 pitches.
The Reds are the only team in the NL without a complete game. They’ve gone 90 games without one, one shy of the franchise record set in 2001.
The Rockies have lost their first game after the All-Star break in each of the last seven years. … The Rockies called up RHP David Cortes and OF Ryan Spilborghs from Triple-A. Spilborghs is the 14th rookie to play for Colorado this season. … Harang walked Garrett Atkins in the second, ending a streak of 19 innings without a walk by Reds pitchers. … Jennings led the NL in walks heading into the game, with 61. He walked only one—Griffey, intentionally. … Miles’ eighth-inning single extended his hitting streak to a season-high 10 games.