PITTSBURGH (AP)—Ken Griffey Jr. is seven hits away from 2,300 for his career. On a night he homered twice, he was more excited for two teammates with a combined eight career hits.
Winning pitcher Aaron Harang ended the longest hitless streak by a major leaguer in 14 years and Aaron Holbert got his first big league hit in 16 pro seasons during the Cincinnati Reds’ soggy 6-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
Griffey, enjoying being healthy so late in a season for the first time in five years, hit his 31st and 32nd homers—giving him three in two games. Adam Dunn added a two-run shot, his 35th, in a three-run third inning against Mark Redman (5-14).
But the hits that brought the Reds out of their dugout yelling, gesturing and waving towels, were Harang’s RBI single up the middle in the second that ended an 0-for-49 streak and Holbert’s pinch-hit double in the ninth that ended an 0-for-forever streak.
“Harang, Holder, I mean those are the guys that really deserve it,” Griffey said. “Aaron (Holbert) has worked hard and done so much and just hung around and hung around, and tonight was his night. You can’t take that away from him.”
Harang’s hitless streak was the longest by any major league batter since Padres pitcher Andy Benes went 0-for-50 in 1991, and the longest by a Reds player since pitcher Jack Billingham went 0-for-67 in 1973. But Holbert’s streak was longer—he played more than 1,500 professional games before getting a major league hit.
Holbert, 32, was St. Louis’ first-round draft pick in 1990 and had three at-bats with them in 1996. He went 10 seasons before being called up again, by the Reds on Aug. 16. He had been 0-for-2 since.
“It finally happened,” he said, accepting postgame congratulations from players and club officials. “The guys came out of the dugout and were clapping. … I’m just grateful to have had the experience.”
Griffey is simply glad to be healthy following four consecutive injury-interrupted seasons. He has eight multihit games during a 12-game hitting streak, going 23-for-51 (.451).
“Over the course of the season, you’ll get on a streak where you get a couple, but the main thing for me is to try to get my hits,” Griffey said.
Obviously, he is.
“He’s the hottest hitter in baseball right now, and we didn’t make good pitches to him,” Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said.
They also didn’t to the game’s coldest hitter. Harang’s pitching wasn’t bad, either, on a wet night when the rain was light at times and a near downpour at others, requiring the PNC Park grounds crew to rake the mound and batter’s box and pour quick-drying material on the infield nearly every inning.
Reds manager Jerry Narron, clearly fearful that standing water behind third base and the muddy mound and infield might cause a player to slip and injure himself, was seen talking at length with crew chief Larry Young during the sixth.
As Narron walked back into the dugout, he waved his hand disgustedly at Young. But maybe he should be glad play continued—the next inning, Griffey hit a drive off the right-field foul pole, giving him his 52nd career multihomer game and his second this season. And the rain finally stopped in the eighth.
“Just say the grounds crew did a great job on the field,” Narron said. “Larry Young felt the conditions were safe.”
Despite the muddy mound, Harang (9-11) threw 83 of his 117 pitches for strikes and limited the Pirates to one run and seven hits over seven innings, striking out five and walking one. He has allowed two runs in 14 innings in his last two starts.
Redman lost for the 10th time in 11 decisions since June 10, and is 0-4 in his last six starts. He has won only once in his last 13 starts after allowing three earned runs or fewer in 13 of his first 14 starts.
“I would have told you were crazy back then if you’d told me he’d be 5-14,” McClendon said,
The Reds, playing in Pittsburgh for the first time since last September, won their third in four games on their current 13-game road trip and their 12th in their last 14 road games.
The Pirates have allowed two or more homers in three consecutive games. … The Reds are 25-15 since the All-Star break. … The Pirates lost their sixth in seven games and their eighth in 11. … Griffey also homered Thursday in Washington. … Harang was 6-for-134 (.045) in the majors before he singled. His only previous career RBI came on a single off Florida’s A.J. Burnett on April 22.