06/20/2004 6:40 PM ET
Morris, Cardinals salute Griffey
Sellout crowd marks historic moment with ovation
By Alan Eskew / Special to MLB.com
Matt Morris was more upset with the three-run blast he surrendered to Jason LaRue than the historic homer he allowed to Ken Griffey Jr. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS -- Matt Morris wanted a cutter in on a 2-2 pitch to Ken Griffey Jr. in the sixth inning.
"It wasn't in far enough," Morris said.
Griffey turned on it and hit it into the right-field stands for his 500th career home run in the Reds' 6-0 victory over the Cardinals on Sunday. Morris has surrendered a Major League-leading 23 home runs this season.
"It was the only pitch I threw in to him all day," Morris said. "I threw him sinkers away in his previous at-bats on the pitches he popped up on, so to speak. With the 2-2 count, I tried to slip a fastball by him. I guess people have been doing that 500 times. He's a great player."
Griffey flied out to Jim Edmonds in deep left-center to leadoff the second inning. His sacrifice fly to Edmonds in the fourth scored Ryan Freel with the first run. Then came the milestone blast to start the sixth.
Cardinals right fielder Reggie Sanders knew Griffey's blast was long gone the moment it left his bat.
"I didn't move. It was a no-doubter," Sanders said. "It was definitely good for our fans to witness that. It wasn't a game-winner. They were already up 5-0. It was not anything that exactly hurt us."
The Busch Stadium sellout crowd of 45,620 gave Griffey a rousing standing ovation and he came out of the visitor's dugout to recognize the fans.
"That why I feel they are the best fans in baseball," Sanders said. "I'm sure they appreciated the opportunity to witness it."
Sanders believes Griffey won't be stopping at 500, but sees 600 over the horizon.
"I would hope so," Sanders said. "I think he's back physically and mentally, so anything is possible."
Griffey's home run was his first in a week, since June 13 at Cleveland.
"It was just a matter of time before he was going to do it." Cards left fielder Ray Lankford said.
Griffey, who is 34, has spent much of the past four seasons on the disabled list with hamstring, knee, shoulder and ankle injuries.
"He's missed a lot of at-bats or he'd been there [at 500] sooner," Cards manager Tony La Russa said. "There's no problem in tipping your cap to an achievement like that. He deserves a lot of credit and respect. We competed all weekend against him. He got the one he wanted."
La Russa said it was good to see the reaction of the fans.
"He deserved it," La Russa said. "If there's a place that's going to recognize achievements like that, it is going to be St. Louis."
Alan Eskew is a contributing writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.