Griffey hits career homer in win over Phillies

April 6, 2008 5:57:18 PM PDT
Ken Griffey Jr. doesn't give much thought to his statistics - not even the big one that's fast approaching. The day to talk about that one will come soon enough. For the moment, he's more wrapped up in smoothing out his swing and enjoying what he sees from the Cincinnati Reds' young starting pitchers.

Griffey hit his 594th career homer Sunday, a two-run shot that resumed his pursuit of a seldom-reached milestone and powered the Reds to an 8-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Griffey's first homer of the season off Brett Myers (0-1) left him six shy of becoming the sixth player in major league history to reach 600 homers. He would join Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Sammy Sosa.

One week into the season, he's still trying to get comfortable at the plate.

"It's a day-in, day-out process," Griffey said. "I don't even think about it."

Jeff Keppinger homered and drove in three runs for the Reds, who improved to 4-2 with another encouraging start by a newcomer.

Right-hander Edinson Volquez (1-0) struck out eight in 5 1-3 innings, the second time during the homestand that a young Reds pitcher made a good first impression. Johnny Cueto had one of the best big league debuts in franchise history on Wednesday, striking out 10 in seven innings of a 3-2 win over Arizona.

"The first thing on my mind was I had to do a good job my first time in Cincinnati," Volquez said. "I think I did. I didn't go seven innings or have 10 strikeouts like J.C., but I think it was pretty good."

The 24-year-old Volquez, who was part of the trade with Texas for Josh Hamilton in December, got a standing ovation when he left with a 4-1 lead in the sixth. He gave up five hits and a pair of walks.

Griffey has the feeling that something good is in the making with the rotation.

"We're in the making of having a lot of fun," Griffey said.

"We've got to go out and do our jobs to support them."

Like Cueto, Volquez took advantage of the hitters' unfamiliarity with his fastball or his approach. He got Jimmy Rollins to take a 94 mph fastball for a called third strike in the third inning, then caught Shane Victorino looking at a 95 mph fastball on the corner.

"He was throwing all the guys inside hard and getting strikes," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Plus, he was kind of overpowering."

Pat Burrell had a run-scoring single in another subpar showing by a Phillies offense that led the league in runs last season.

Myers moved back into the rotation after the Phillies got closer Brad Lidge from Houston on the offseason, a move that helped the defending NL East champions in a couple of ways. So far, it hasn't translated into a win.

Lidge missed the first four games while still recovering from knee surgery in February. Myers got a no-decision on opening day, lasting five innings in an 11-6 loss to Washington. Against the Reds, he gave up eight hits, three walks and four runs in five innings.

There's a difference of opinion over what's wrong with Myers, who is accustomed to throwing his fastball in the low- to mid-90s.

"His breaking pitches looked OK," Manuel said. "The velocity on his fastball so far is not what it was last year. He was throwing everything he had up there, but his fastball was sitting up there at 88, 89, 90 mph."

Myers didn't feel any difference in his fastball. He thought the main problem was that the Reds wouldn't swing at pitches just out of the strike zone.

"I just couldn't put anybody away," said Myers, who threw 95 pitches. "I was throwing every pitch as hard as I could. I was pretty irritated at myself with not being able to put people away."

Griffey's two-run homer in the first inning came in his 16th at-bat of the season and set a tone. Keppinger led off the third with his second homer of the season, and broke the game open with a two-run double in the sixth off Clay Condrey.