06/10/08 12:05 AM ET
Griffey's 600th vaults Reds to victory
Slugger's historic blast part of four homers for Cincinnati
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
It turns out he was right.
The Reds blasted four home runs, including one in each of the first three innings, and split the series against the Marlins with a 9-4 win in front of 16,003 at Dolphin Stadium.
Of all the homers the Reds hit, one in particular stood out.
With Jerry Hairston at third base after stealing two bases in the first inning, Ken Griffey Jr. got a 3-1 hanging curveball from Marlins starter Mark Hendrickson and deposited it into the right-field seats for his 600th career home run.
Griffey became the sixth player in Major League history to reach that plateau. But the fact that the homer gave the Reds the initial lead that catapulted them into a victory made it extra special.
"Much better," Reds manager Dusty Baker said about the home run meaning more because it came in a victory. "He gave us that much-needed lift that we hadn't been getting early in the game.
"That was a monster home run. This isn't an easy place to hit them at. He got us on the board, 2-0, in the very first inning and got it over with."
Plus, Reds starter Edinson Volquez usually doesn't need much run support.
Cincinnati's blossoming right-hander got the win after pitching six innings. He allowed a season-high three earned runs on three hits while walking five and striking out five. The 25-year-old improved to 9-2 on the year with a 1.56 ERA.
"All of my pitches were working," Volquez said. "The last two innings, my legs were shaking a little bit because I was tired."
But Griffey wasn't the only one to make history for the Reds on Monday. Catcher Paul Bako reached his own milestone by notching the first multihomer game of his career.
After Griffey made it 2-0 in the first, the Reds got runners on first and second to start the second inning, and Bako delivered with a three-run homer to straightaway center field to make it a five-run game. He then added a two-run shot in the ninth to pretty much seal the deal.
"It was really nice because we're having a tough time on the road," said Bako, who finished the night 2-for-4 with five RBIs. "We played really good ball at Philly, and our pitching really gave us a chance to win. But we didn't really come through that big in Philly, so it was nice to split the series here."
The Reds took a six-run lead when Brandon Phillips led off the third inning with his 12th home run of the year. But the Marlins cut the deficit in half in the fifth. After a single and two walks by Volquez, Jeremy Hermida hit a two-run single to right field, and third baseman Jorge Cantu added an RBI single to left to make it 6-3.
But the Reds made sure the Marlins -- who beat them on a walk-off homer on Saturday -- wouldn't come back on Monday. Dunn led off the top of the ninth with a double, and after a walk to Edwin Encarnacion and a sacrifice fly by Joey Votto, Bako homered to right and blew the game open.
Jared Burton, Bill Bray, David Weathers and Francisco Cordero combined to throw three innings of one-run ball out of the bullpen and preserve the win.
"We swung the bats well [in South Florida], and it felt good to have Volquez on," said Hairston, who left the game in the first inning after getting his hand caught on Cantu's cleat when stealing second. An X-ray revealed a non-displaced fracture of his left thumb, and he estimated he'd be out 2-4 weeks. "We knew we had a chance to win it, and it's good to get a split."
The win comes at a good time for the Reds, who went 3-5 on this road trip and now open up a nine-game homestand against the Cardinals, Red Sox and Dodgers beginning Tuesday.
"We had a chance to take [three out of four], but things didn't work out," Dunn said. "For the most part, we played pretty good on this road trip. It gave us momentum to go home, and we have a tough home schedule coming up."
Alden Gonzalez is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.