Big day for Reds' Griffey, Livingston
Junior connects for No. 587; starter excels with arm and bat
ATLANTA -- Interim manager Pete Mackanin had an outside-the-box brainstorm he thought might help his Reds score runs against the Braves.Mackanin's team was coming off back-to-back losses to the Mets while scoring a total of three runs. On Monday, the Reds beat up on the Braves for a 10-3 win and stopped Atlanta's five-game winning streak. "You go into a town and the [opposing] manager comes over and you're chatting and he says, 'We just can't score any runs," Mackanin said. "I say, 'Get away from me, I don't even want to hear it. Just leave me alone.' Invariably, it happens. The guy will come over complaining that his team can't score." Then he added with a wry smile: "You know what?" Mackanin said. "I'm going to do that with Bobby [Cox]." Mackanin didn't end up approaching the Braves' skipper, and it turned out that he didn't need to. The Reds mounted a 16-hit attack, using 15 singles. Ken Griffey Jr.'s three-run home run in the third inning was the lone extra-base hit for Cincinnati. "I'll take 15 singles any day," Mackanin said. "I wish we could have had some of those the other night." Don't look now, but the last-place Reds (38-55) are one game from getting out of the cellar after the 39-54 fifth-place Astros lost their game. Even Reds starting pitcher Bobby Livingston got in on the act with a 4-for-4, one-RBI night, becoming the first Reds pitcher to collect four hits in a game since John Smiley went 4-for-4 at Montreal on June 7, 1993. With starter Kyle Davies not having it on the mound, Atlanta had to patch together all 27 outs using its bullpen. Ryan Freel led off with a single against Davies and Scott Hatteberg walked. Atlanta employed a defensive shift on Griffey that opened up the left side of the infield. Griffey punched a rolling single into left field that scored Freel for a 1-0 lead. "If they're going to give you something, you have to try and take advantage of it," Griffey said. "I was able to do it in the first and we got two across. The big thing was to keep the inning going and staying out of the double play." Davies (4-8) walked the next two batters, including Adam Dunn on four pitches with the bases loaded. He was given the hook by Cox after only five batters. "We got into their bullpen, deep," Mackanin said. "If we can do it again tomorrow, hopefully [John Smoltz] won't be able to go eight or nine [Wednesday]." A steady assault on the Braves' bullpen commenced in the second inning. Griffey started it with his three-run homer to right field off Oscar Villarreal for his fourth RBI and a five-run lead. It was Griffey's 24th homer of the season and No. 587 for his career, which broke a sixth-place tie with Frank Robinson. "The first three starts I've had in the bigs, Griffey homered in all of them," said Livingston, who last started and won for the Reds at Colorado on June 1. "That's something to tell the grandkids. I don't know if I'm good luck that I'm here and he does that. As long as he can do that every five days, I'm happy." Livingston (2-0), who was called up from Triple-A Louisville for the spot start, went five innings for the win and allowed two earned runs and eight hits with two walks and four strikeouts. The left-hander also worked out of a pair of bases-loaded jams. In the third inning with the bases full and one out, Andruw Jones hit a two-run single that made it a 6-2 game, but Livingston escaped further damage. Cincinnati kept the pressure on with two more runs in the fourth before Atlanta gave Livingston his biggest challenge in the fifth with the bases loaded and no outs. Jones struck out swinging before Jeff Francoeur was called out on strikes and ejected for arguing with home plate umpire Angel Hernandez. Moments later, the Reds' rout became the night the lights sort of went out in Georgia. With two banks of Turner Field's lights partially failing and dimming the field, the game was halted. The delay stretched for 11 minutes and the sudden stop could have doused Livingston's chances of getting a win. "When Livingston got into that pickle and then got those two guys out, he's got some rhythm going and the lights go off," Mackanin said. "I was like, 'You've got to be kidding me.' I felt he had good momentum and was making good pitches." Livingston did his best to keep busy and made some warm-up pitches. He eventually went to cool off in the dugout during a muggy night. "I was more worried about not trying to sweat so much," he said. "I had to change two shirts tonight. I was worried about staying hydrated out there and keeping myself energized." When play resumed, Livingston got Matt Diaz to pop out to the catcher. He batted in the sixth and beat out a single to shortstop for his fourth hit, but did not return for the bottom of the sixth despite having just 86 pitches. "He came back in and did a [great] job," Mackanin said. "After that, there was no way I could let him go back out after he got out of a jam like that." It's likely Livingston has earned himself another start when the fifth spot comes up against Saturday at Florida. "I made the pitches when I needed to tonight," Livingston said. "I left a few pitches that were up and they got hit. But I made some good pitches that weren't hit hard. I helped myself, I think, getting out of that situation by bearing down with the bases loaded with no outs."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.