CINCINNATI (AP)—Ken Griffey Jr. dramatically ended his slump at the expense of a closer who finds things getting worse every time he gets to the mound.
Griffey’s bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth inning sent the Cincinnati Reds to a 6-5 victory Friday night over the Milwaukee Brewers, who overcame a nearly three-hour rain delay at the outset but couldn’t handle another meltdown by their closer.
The Brewers took a 5-3 lead into the ninth, but Derrick Turnbow (4-7) couldn’t throw a strike, helping the Reds rally for their sixth victory in their eight games since the All-Star break.
“Wow,” Griffey said. “It’s been a long day. I’m glad it’s over with.”
This one ended at 1:15 a.m. EDT, with a few thousand fans in the stands and the Brewers expecting an entirely different outcome.
Instead, Turnbow blew his fifth straight save opportunity by giving up a leadoff single to Brandon Phillips, then loading the bases with one out on a pair of four-pitch walks. At that point, manager Ned Yost had seen enough.
He brought in left-hander Dana Eveland, who has one career save. Eveland walked Javier Valentin to force in a run, and the slumping Griffey—0-for-13 since his single last Sunday—hit one into the gap in left-center that the discouraged outfielders didn’t bother to chase.
There was no point.
“All I had to do was get a ball in the air and hit a sacrifice fly to tie it,” Griffey said. “I just hit it in the gap.”
It was the final straw for Yost, who plans to take Turnbow out of the closer’s role for now.
“He’s really fighting himself,” Yost said. “We’ll give him a break.”
Turnbow didn’t object when told of Yost’s plans.
“I feel confident, but I’m not making confident pitches,” Turnbow said. “I’ve got to find it. They haven’t talked to me about it. I’ll understand. I don’t want to cost the team games.”
Gary Majewski (4-3), acquired in an eight-player trade with Washington a week ago, pitched the ninth for his first win with Cincinnati, which pulled off its second early morning comeback in three days.
The Reds overcame a 4-0 deficit and a 2-hour, 23-minute rain delay on Wednesday, rallying to beat the Mets 7-4 in a game that ended at 12:28 a.m.
“We’re pretty good after midnight,” manager Jerry Narron said. “I didn’t know we were this good after 1 a.m, though. It was nice to see (Griffey) get that hit. I sure didn’t want to play until 3 a.m.”
A thunderstorm and lingering rain delayed the start by 2 hours, 55 minutes— the type of interruption that can knock a pitcher out of whack. But Brewers All-Star starter Chris Capuano was sharp from his long-awaited first pitch—a strike that Ryan Freel grounded right back to him.
The left-hander limited the Reds to six hits, including Jason LaRue’s solo homer and Edwin Encarnacion’s two-run shot, before leaving with two outs in the seventh and a 5-3 lead. He walked two and struck out four, a major improvement over his last outing.
Capuano was coming off the worst of his 20 starts, an 8-1 loss at Arizona last Sunday in which he gave up eight runs in only 3 2-3 innings. The drubbing ended his streak of five wins.
At that point, it was up to Turnbow to finish it off. He couldn’t, throwing only six strikes out of 17 pitches.
The light-hitting Capuano added a run-scoring single off Elizardo Ramirez, who was uncharacteristically off-target after the long delay. Ramirez gave up five runs and a career-high 11 hits in only five innings.
Cincinnati’s Rich Aurilia had a single off Capuano that extended his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games, matching Felipe Lopez for the longest by a Reds player this season. Lopez went to Washington in that eight-player trade.
Prince Fielder was hit by a pitch and singled, extending his hitting streak to eight games. The first baseman is 13-for-27 during the first seven games of the Brewers’ nine-game trip.
Brewers RF Geoff Jenkins turned 32 on Friday. He went 1-for-4. … Capuano is 6-for-42 with two RBIs and 22 strikeouts. … SS Royce Clayton has hit in all six games since he came to the Reds in the eight-player deal with Washington. … RHP Joe Mays is scheduled to start Saturday, ending his long layoff. Mays, the Reds’ fifth starter, hasn’t pitched since July 6. Mays has made three starts this season, going 1-0 with an 8.82 ERA. … Only standing-room tickets are left for Saturday’s game, which will be Cincinnati’s fourth home sellout this season. The Reds are 0-3 before a full house.