By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Ken Griffey Jr. seemed none too happy about dropping from third to fifth in the batting order.
"I have no choice," Griffey said when asked about it.
End of conversation.
If Griffey was mad, he plays well mad.
He went 3-for-5 with a home run and five RBI to lead the Reds over the Milwaukee Brewers 9-6 Thursday night before a crowd of 17,489 at Great American Ball Park.
Griffey, back in the lineup after missing two starts because of a sore right hamstring, was hitting below fourth in the order for the first time since June 22, 1990.
Griffey singled in a run in the fourth, hit a two-run homer in the sixth and singled home two more runs in the seventh.
Reds manager Dave Miley said he made the move to "jump-start" his center fielder. Griffey, who was hitting .190 since April 9, responded with his biggest night of the year and raised his average from .226 to .245.
As good as Griffey was, this was a gift victory. The Brewers committed three errors in the five-run seventh, leading to the three unearned runs that were the difference in the game.
The win allowed the Reds to take two of three games from the Brewers and thus remain unbeaten in home series.
The Reds overcame a shaky start by Aaron Harang - 5 1/3 innings, eight hits and five runs.
Harang was down 2-0 before he recorded his second out of the game.
He settled down and retired 10 in a row after pitching coach Don Gullett made a quick visit to the mound.
Milwaukee starter Wes Obermueller handled the Reds easily through the first three innings.
But Sean Casey started the fourth with a single off first baseman Lyle Overbay's glove. Adam Dunn doubled down the right-field line, and Griffey lined one into center to drive in Casey.
Brandon Larson fouled off three pitches with the count 3-and-2 before walking. Jacob Cruz took a called third strike.
Javier Valentin hit a slicing line drive into center that Scott Podsednik made a nice catch on, but Dunn scored to make it 2-2.
Harang gave up a two-run homer to Bill Hall, the Reds killer, in the fifth to make it 4-2. Hall hit it well into the bleachers in left field for his second homer this year.
Harang allowed another run in the sixth to make it 5-2.
Harang was 2-0 with a 3.52 ERA in April, but in two May starts he is 0-2 with an 8.38 ERA. More troubling is the fact that he has allowed 18 hits in 9 2/3 innings.
Griffey cut the Reds' deficit to one by hitting a two-run homer in the sixth. The home run, Griffey's fourth of the year, snapped a 67-at-bat streak without a home run, his longest such skid since he went 79 at-bats without one in May of 1993.
The Brewers added a run off Brian Reith in the seventh.
The Reds' eighth started with a Ryan Freel single. After D'Angelo Jimenez walked, the Brewers took out Obermueller and brought in Jeff Bennett to face Larkin. Larkin tried and failed to bunt the runners over on the first two pitches, then swung away and hit a ground ball that second baseman Keith Ginter had go over his glove for an error.
Casey hit a flyball to center that Podsednik made a long run for, but the ball went off his glove for another error. Freel scored to make it 6-5.
Dunn took a called third strike, but Griffey laced a single into right field to score Jimenez and Larkin to make it 7-6.
Wednesday's hero, Juan Castro, was sent up as a pinch-hitter and hit a little roller. Bennett tried to field it and go the bag, but he didn't pickup the ball. Error No. 3. allowed Casey to score.
The bases were still loaded, and there was still one out. Griffey scored when Bennett threw a wild pitch with Valentin at the plate, making it 9-6.
|Griffey Jr. cf||5||2||3||5||0||0||.245|
E-Podsednik (1), KGinter (1), JBennett (1). LOB-Milwaukee 10, Cincinnati
8. 2B-Podsednik (7), BHall (3), Jenkins (7), Overbay (13), DJimenez (5), Dunn (4). 3B-Durrington (1). HR-Griffey Jr. (4), off Obermueller; BHall (2), off Harang. RBIs-BHall 3 (12), Jenkins (19), Grieve (7), GBennett (6), Casey (23), Griffey Jr. 5 (19), JCastro (6), Valentin (7). SB-Larkin (2). S-Obermueller. SF-Grieve, Casey, Valentin.
|JBennett L, 1-3|| BS, 1 2/3||2||3||0||0||2||27||4.50|
|TJones W, 2-1||1/3||0||0||0||0||0||3||5.74|
|Riedling H, 5||1||1||0||0||0||1||15||0.60|
|Graves S, 12||1||0||0||0||0||2||12||2.87|
Obermueller pitched to 2 batters in the 7th, Reith pitched to 1 batter in the 7th.
Inherited runners-scored-JBennett 2-2, Kieschnick 2-0, RWagner 1-1, TJones 3-0, Reith 2-0.
IBB-off Kieschnick (Dunn) 1, off Harang (Grieve) 1. WP-JBennett.
T-3:16. A-17,489 (42,271).
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