Major League Baseball
Griffey's Blast In 9th Gives Cincinnati Win
CINCINNATI - CINCINNATI - Ken Griffey Jr. hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning Monday night, rallying the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 603rd home run of his career. Griffey connected off Matt Capps (1-3), who started the ninth with a 3-2 lead but couldn't get an out. David Ross opened with a double, and Griffey - who got into the game as a defensive replacement in the ninth - hit the second pitch he saw into the seats in right-center. Francisco Cordero (3-1) escaped a bases-loaded threat in the ninth, helping the Reds get the better of a matchup between the NL Central's bottom two teams. When he saw he was out of the starting lineup, Griffey playfully asked Darren Baker - son of manager Dusty - why he was out of the lineup. The 9-year-old responded, "You can't hit lefties, and you're old!"He showed he still has a little left in his 38-year-old body. Adam LaRoche hit a sacrifice fly and a two-run homer off Reds starter Aaron Harang. LaRoche hit the sacrifice fly in the second, and broke a 1-all tie in the sixth inning with his eighth homer. Left-hander Paul Maholm held the Reds to a pair of runs and five hits in seven innings. Jerry Hairston Jr. hit a solo homer, and Jay Bruce drove in a run by hitting into a force out. With little at stake in the standings, the Pirates used the series opener to experiment with the batting order. For the first time since 1957, their starting pitcher batted somewhere other than last. Maholm moved up to eighth and shortstop Jack Wilson batted ninth, making the Pirates the third NL Central team to try the unorthodox move this season. St. Louis and Milwaukee also have batted their pitchers eighth. Manager John Russell's move didn't have much effect. The bottom three batters in the order were a combined 2-for-10 and failed to score or drive in a run.