Indians 12, Reds 7
CINCINNATI (AP)—Three pitches. One grand slam. The rest of the game off. Travis Hafner found the perfect way to get his aching elbow—and his reeling team—a little bit better.
Hafner had a pinch-hit grand slam Saturday night that tied a Cleveland record for bases-loaded brilliance and rallied the struggling Indians to a 12-7 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
“It’s almost like the ideal day,” said Hafner, who rounded the bases and got treatment for his elbow. “Either way, my day is done. It lets me go in and ice and enjoy and hope the team holds on.”
Hafner, scratched from the lineup because of the elbow, matched Al Rosen’s 1951 club mark with his fourth grand slam of the season. The fifth-inning shot off Joe Mays (0-1) was salve for a team aching from back-to-back meltdowns in the ninth inning.
Hafner has no explanation for what he’s done with the bases loaded this season—6-for-9 with four homers.
“It’s just purely coincidence,” he said. “You can go several years without hitting a grand slam. I don’t think you get up that much with the bases loaded. It’s a great thing, but I couldn’t see myself doing that many.”
Left-hander Cliff Lee (8-5) remained unbeaten since May 29 and perfect during interleague play. Lee gave up four runs in six innings, including Ken Griffey Jr.’s solo homer, while improving to 7-0 in 10 career interleague starts.
A Cleveland bullpen that was rocked for nine runs in the series opener had plenty of margin for error, and needed it. Austin Kearns hit a two-run homer off reliever Rafael Perez in the seventh, and Ryan Freel homered off Fernando Cabrera in the eighth.
This time, there was too much ground for the powerful Reds to make up.
The Reds scored their four runs off Lee on a couple of noteworthy hits. Griffey hit his fifth homer in six games and the 553rd of his career, leaving him 10 behind Reggie Jackson for 10th place on the career list.
Mays doubled off Lee with the bases loaded for the first three RBIs of his career, but it wasn’t enough to get the Reds their first win before a full house at home. The Reds fell to 0-3 before capacity crowds at Great American Ball Park this season.
The intrastate rivals have combined for nine homers in their two games, including a pair of grand slams. Adam Dunn’s game-ending slam gave the Reds their 9-8 win in the series opener and set the no-lead-is-safe tone.
“I don’t expect it,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “I don’t like it. You don’t want to see that many runs put up on the scoreboard at this level—or at any level, as far as I’m concerned.”
Mays has never beaten the Indians during his career, going 0-8 with a 6.38 earned run average with Minnesota, Kansas City and now Cincinnati. Not even his bases-loaded double in the fourth could get that breakthrough win.
“My main reason for getting out of the AL was seeing those guys too many times, but you’ve got to go out and do your job,” Mays said. “I didn’t do mine, and the team paid for it.”
A decision by Wedge helped to break it open. With the bases loaded and one out, Wedge decided to bat Hafner for outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who already had a pair of singles off Mays.
“It was a little bit surprising, but it was a perfect spot for him,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said.
Wedge knew that with the bases loaded, Mays would have to give Hafner something to hit.
“Haft’s a special player, a special hitter,” Wedge said. “But what he did tonight, you don’t ever anticipate.”
Hafner, making his second pinch-hit appearance of the season, hit Mays’ third pitch over the wall in center for his sixth career grand slam. It was Hafner’s first career pinch-hit homer and the Indians’ first since Josh Phelps had one on Sept. 25, 2004 against Minnesota.
The last Cleveland player with a pinch-hit grand slam was Ben Broussard on Aug. 12, 2004 against Toronto.
Indians OF Jason Michaels began a brief rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Buffalo. Michaels, who has recovered from a sprained right ankle, is eligible to be reinstated from the DL. … Cleveland’s Joe Inglett and Ryan Garko doubled for their first big-league hits. … Mays tied his career high by giving up eight runs in five innings. It was his second start for the Reds, who signed him to a minor league deal on May 8 and promoted him last month. … 2B Brandon Phillips stole his 16th base in 16 tries, the best streak by a Reds player since Ken Griffey Sr. opened the 1980 season with 19 consecutive steals.