By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer
It's no secret that Ken Griffey Jr. isn't on Jack McKeon's Christmas card list.
|Ken Griffey Jr. looks over to what appears to be the Florida Marlins' bench after he hit his 492nd home run
More photos from the game
McKeon thinks Griffey had something to do with him getting fired as Reds manager after the 2000 season. On the other hand, McKeon loves Sean Casey.
But McKeon went with managerial logic and not personal preference when he walked Casey to get to Griffey in the sixth inning Tuesday night.
It didn't work out logically for McKeon.
Griffey hit the next pitch from Josh Beckett 433 feet, into the right-field seats, for a three-run home run to help lift the Reds over the McKeon's Florida Marlins 5-2 on a rainy night before a crowd of 21,026 at Great American Ball Park.
"It's amazing sometimes with Griff," Casey said. "He can just turn on a switch when he gets angry. I think he was angry."
Said Reds shortstop Barry Larkin: "(Griffey) has a tendency to respond very well to criticism, to controversy, to challenges. Walking the guy in front of him, especially (by order of) the manager that used to man our team, is definitely a challenge."
Griffey's frame of mind is a matter of speculation. He was gone before reporters were let into the clubhouse.
The home run was the 492nd of Griffey's career, putting him alone in 20th place on the all-time list - one ahead of Fred McGriff and one behind Lou Gehrig, players not associated with having the hitters in front of them intentionally walked.
But Houston manager Jimy Williams walked Casey twice to get to Griffey in the previous series. It worked once and blew up once.
"Three times in one week. What does that tell you?" McKeon said. "I needed a double play."
Griffey stared into the Marlins dugout after he rounded third base.
"That's bull," Beckett said. "I do take offense to that. I don't care if he is a Hall of Famer ... I don't think I'll forget that."
It was Griffey's third home run in three days and 11th of the year. The three RBI gave him 37, putting him among the league leaders.
"He's had all those injuries," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "He's healthy, and it shows."
The Reds (27-16) have won seven straight games and 10 of 11. The Cubs lost 5-0 to Houston Tuesday, so the Reds have a 11/2-game lead in the National League Central.
Griffey's homer broke up a nice pitching duel between Reds starter Paul Wilson and Beckett.
Wilson ran his record to 7-0. He went seven innings, allowing a run on seven hits. He walked one and struck out three.
Wilson has won each of his last four starts, and his ERA is 1.55 in that span.
Beckett, the reigning World Series MVP, went six innings, allowing four runs on four hits. The intentional walk was his only walk of the night. He struck out seven.
As good as Beckett was in October, he came in 4-3 with a 3.75 ERA this season and 21-20 with a 3.40 ERA in his career.
The Reds got the Beckett who ruled baseball in October this time.
"That's why Griff's homer was huge," Casey said. "We're in the dugout scratching our heads, saying, 'How are we going to get to this guy?' "
Larkin, another of McKeon's favorite Reds, hit a 1-0 pitch to left field in the first inning for his second home run of the year.
Wilson made the 1-0 lead stand up through five innings.
The rain had started by the sixth. Wilson retired the first two, then gave up a double to Lowell. Cabrera followed with an RBI single.
Beckett retired 14 of the next 16 after Larkin's homer. But Ryan Freel led off the sixth with a single, and Larkin tried to bunt him over but fell behind 0-2. He fouled off three pitches before grounding to short with Freel running. McKeon then walked Casey to get to Griffey.
"You can't fault a guy for walking a guy hitting .380," Miley said. "You pick your poison."
The Reds added a run on Larkin's RBI single in the seventh.
The Marlins made it 5-2 with a run off John Riedling in the eighth.
Todd Jones, giving closer Danny Graves a break, pitched the ninth for his first save as a Red.
|Griffey Jr. cf||4||1||2||3||0||1||.252|
LOB-Florida 7, Cincinnati 4. 2B-Lowell 3 (14), Cabrera (9). HR-Griffey Jr. (11), off Beckett; Larkin (2), off Beckett. RBIs-Cabrera 2 (33), Larkin 2 (16), Griffey Jr. 3 (37). S-PWilson. GIDP-Pierre. DP-Florida 1, Cincinnati 1.
|Beckett L, 4-4||6||4||4||4||1||7||87||3.95|
|PWilson W, 7-0||7||7||1||1||1||3||100||3.34|
|MMatthews H, 1||1/3||0||0||0||0||0||1||0.00|
|TJones S, 1||1||0||0||0||0||0||15||4.62|
IBB-off Beckett (Casey) 1. HBP-by Beckett (LaRue). WP-Riedling. T-2:35. A-21,026 (42,271).
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