Griffey Jr. returns to field after setback

Griffey Jr. returns to field after setback

By The Associated Press

CINCINNATI- Ken Griffey Jr. needed just one swing to remind everybody of his Hall of Fame credentials.

He moved into 10th place on baseball’s career home-run list with a three-run, pinch-hit shot in the eighth inning Monday that lifted the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

Griffey, in his first appearance after missing 17 games with a toe injury, hit a 1-1 pitch from left-hander Scott Eyre (1-3) into the right-field seats for his 27th homer this season and 563rd of his career, tying Reggie Jackson on the home run list.

“That’s why he’s in the Hall of Fame – or will be,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said.

It was the fifth pinch-hit homer of Griffey’s career.

The next player to catch on the home-run list is Rafael Palmeiro at No. 9 with 569.

Griffey hadn’t played since dislocating the second toe of his right foot while trying to climb the wall and catch a homer by Barry Bonds on Sept. 4 at Great American Ball Park. Monday’s homer was his first in 39 at-bats since Aug. 25 at San Francisco.

“I’m still part of this team,” said Griffey, who limped around the bases and answered a curtain call.

“I still can help the team, mentally or physically,” he added.

“Reggie’s always been pretty good to me,” he said.

“The things he’s done – it’s an honor in itself. I’d like to have the title ‘Mr. October.’ I think everybody in the locker room would like to have that title,” he added.

Eyre, who struck out Adam Dunn to end Cincinnati’s two-run seventh, got Edwin Encarnacion to ground out to start the eighth. Brandon Phillips walked and Norris Hopper delivered a pinch-hit single. David Ross struck out, and Griffey, who was 7-for-20 with three home runs in his career against Eyre, batted for pitcher Scott Schoeneweis.

“I was going to come up a couple of innings before that, but they didn’t get to me,” Griffey said.

“They said, ‘If a guy gets on, you’re hitting.’ I was really trying not to embarrass myself,” he added.

“Griffey’s a pretty amazing guy,” said Chicago manager Dusty Baker, who also managed Barry Bonds in San Francisco.

“He hasn’t swung the bat in a couple of weeks. Only him and Barry Bonds could do that. I wouldn’t have minded if he stayed on the bench for the rest of my career,” he added

Schoeneweis (2-0) got two outs in the eighth to earn the win.

David Weathers pitched the ninth for his team-leading 12th save.

Griffey’s homer cost Wade Miller his first win since beating Kansas City 8-5 for Boston on Aug. 3, 2005.

The right-hander, in his fourth start after missing the first five months of the season because of shoulder surgery, allowed three hits and three walks.

Cincinnati put at least one runner on base in every inning against Miller, but none got past second base.

Bronson Arroyo lasted seven innings, giving up only four hits and no earned runs with two walks and five strikeouts.

The right-hander, Miller’s teammate with the Red Sox last season, fell short in his second try at a career-high 15 wins.

“That’s one of those no-decisions that feels like a win,” Arroyo said.

The Cubs took advantage of errors on back-to-back batters to score four unearned runs in the first inning.