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Griffey Hits 499th Homer in Reds' Loss

Outfielder connects in third inning, but Cincinnati falls to Cleveland, 10-8, and is swept in three-game series.

June 14, 2004|From Associated Press

CLEVELAND — Ken Griffey Jr. came close to making history, but the bullpen couldn't protect a lead and the manager watched Sunday's last few innings on the clubhouse TV.

The Cincinnati Reds didn't have a pleasant three-day stay at Jacobs Field.

Griffey moved within one swing of history with the 499th home run of his career, but the Reds' losing streak reached a season-high six games with a 10-8 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

Matt Lawton hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning, and the Indians rallied from a six-run deficit to complete a three-game sweep with their third consecutive come-from-behind victory over their in-state rivals.

The Reds have lost six in a row -- all on the road -- and look nothing like the team that led the National League Central for 20 consecutive days.

"We probably should have won all three games," first baseman Sean Casey said. "Instead, we got three losses. It was a really tough weekend for us."

The Indians trailed, 7-1, in the fourth inning but stormed back with five runs in the sixth and three in the seventh -- capped by Lawton's shot against Mike Matthews.

Cleveland outscored Cincinnati, 18-3, from the sixth inning on in the series, aided by the Reds' struggling bullpen, which blew saves in each game.

"It's ridiculous," closer Danny Graves said. "We're major league ballplayers and if you can't throw strikes, they'd better find someone who can."

Griffey hit No. 499 in the third inning, and with his next homer he'll become the 20th player to reach 500. He would've certainly gotten there much earlier if not for a freakish run of injuries the last few seasons.

Griffey went one for three and walked twice. He came within a few feet of No. 500 in the fourth inning with a shot to right field that was caught just short of the wall.

"I hit it off the end," Griffey said.

After walking in the first, Griffey connected for his 18th homer -- and 10th in 21 games -- in the third, pulling a 1-and-1 pitch from Cliff Lee over the wall in right field.

In his next at-bat, in the fourth, Griffey nearly got beaned by the first pitch from Lee, who was ejected by plate umpire Matt Hollowell.

Lee maintained that he wasn't trying to hit Griffey.

"I was trying to go in under his hands, and it just got away from me," Lee said. "He just hit a homer on my last pitch, so it obviously looked like I was throwing at him, but it just got away."

Griffey was asked if he believed Lee was aiming at him. "I'm not going to answer that," he said.

Red Manager Dave Miley, who got tossed by Hollowell in the sixth for arguing balls and strikes, was equally noncommittal.

"I'd rather not comment," he said. "Ask the home plate umpire. He obviously thought there was some intent."

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One to Go

Ken Griffey Jr. needs one home run to reach 500. Active home run leaders through Sunday:

*--* Barry Bonds 676 Sammy Sosa 549 Rafael Palmeiro 537 Ken Griffey Jr. 499 Fred McGriff 492 Juan Gonzalez 434 Frank Thomas 434 Jeff Bagwell 428 Jim Thome 399 Gary Sheffield 388 Mike Piazza 372 Manny Ramirez 364

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