CINCINNATI (AP)—Ken Griffey Jr. is letting his performance do the talking for him for a while.
The center fielder has hit four home runs and driven in 18 runs since being activated from the disabled list on May 11, after missing almost a month with a strained tendon in his right knee.
Griffey, apparently upset about recent criticism of his defense, refused to speak with the media after Tuesday’s game, but manager Jerry Narron, teammates and opponents had plenty to say.
“Any questions about Ken Griffey Jr. can be put to rest,” Narron said. “Junior’s definitely one of the best hitters in baseball. I told the coaches the other day that I still think he’ll lead the team in RBIs, even though he missed a month. I thought it would take him three weeks to a month to get into shape, but the way he’s playing, it looks like he’ll make a liar out of me.”
“I’m still a fan,” said Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips, who went 2-for-5 and scored on Griffey’s homers Monday and Tuesday. “When he does something, I get excited like I’m sitting in the stands or watching on TV.”
The Reds were losing 3-1 when Felipe Lopez and Phillips led off the fifth inning with singles to right off left-hander Dana Eveland. Griffey then hit a 1-0 pitch 411 feet into the stands in right for his sixth homer of the season and third in the last four games. He hit a grand slam at Detroit on Saturday and a three-run homer in the first inning on Monday.
It was Griffey’s 542nd homer, putting him 12th on the career list, six behind Mike Schmidt. Eveland is the 346th pitcher to give up at least one homer to Griffey.
In the top of the fifth, Griffey ran into the wall in right-center to rob Geoff Jenkins of his bid for an extra-base hit. He hit the wall in left-center to rob Bill Hall on Monday night and added a sliding catch of a sinking liner by Carlos Lee.
“Griffey’s a really great player,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. “He’s done everything to beat us—hitting, defense. When he’s healthy, he’s still one of the best.”
“We, as players, know how difficult the game is,” said Rich Aurilia, whose single drove in Griffey in the first inning with Cincinnati’s first run. “To do what he does is amazing. He’s in the top 1 percent all-time. When it happens, it’s not a surprise to us.”
Elizardo Ramirez (2-3) went five innings for his first win in four starts since beating Washington 4-2 on April 24. He allowed three runs and five hits with three strikeouts and three walks.
Eveland (0-1), making his third start of the season and first on the road, set a career high with seven strikeouts. But he gave up eight hits and four runs with one walk and a hit batsman in 4 2-3 innings.
The Brewers have lost four of their last five games.
Griffey doubled into the right-field corner with two outs in the first and scored on Aurilia’s broken-bat single up the middle.
The Reds added three runs on sacrifice flies. Griffey and Aurilia hit ones in the sixth and Jason LaRue had one in the seventh.
Yost was ejected by plate umpire Bill Welke in the first inning after the two argued over a comment Welke made to Milwaukee’s Brady Clark. “It was a difference of opinion,” Yost said. … Griffey extended his season-high hitting streak to seven games. … Aurilia’s RBI was the 600th of his career. … Aurilia had been hitless in 11 at-bats before his first-inning single. … Lee went 0-for-3 and has three hits in his last 30 at-bats. He hasn’t hit a home run since April 9. … Milwaukee reliever Joe Winkelsas made his second career appearance. His first was in 1999 for Atlanta. … Milwaukee reliever Carlos Villanueva made his major league debut in the ninth.