Cards' win streak has odd ending

Griffey's inside-the-park homer boosts Cincinnati

Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2001

CINCINNATI -- Four errors. A disputed obstruction call. The first homer over the majors' tallest wall. Ken Griffey Jr.'s first inside-the-park homer in 11 years.

This one had it all -- except for another St. Louis Cardinals win.

The Cardinals blew leads in the ninth and 10th innings Monday night, then watched in disbelief as Griffey circled the bases in the 11th inning on his delicate hamstring, running the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-4 victory.

All in all, it was a bizarre ending to the Cardinals' 11-game winning streak, their longest in 19 years.

''Bad. That's bad,'' said second baseman Fernando Vina, who was involved in the game's most disputed play.

The decisive one came in the 11th, when Griffey hit a fly off the wall in center. The ball deflected off Jim Edmonds' foot and scooted along the warning track, rolling all the way into left field.

Griffey, who's still not back to full speed after tearing his hamstring, had plenty of time to circle the bases while left fielder Kerry Robinson chased down the ball and flipped it desperately toward the infield.

It was Griffey's first inside-the-park homer since June 20, 1990, against Kansas City and the third of his career overall. His teammates encircled him after he slid across home plate, then jumped up and down in unison to celebrate the end of their eight-game losing streak.

''There was a lot of emotion back and forth,'' Griffey said. ''It was one of those games that you'll remember for a while, not because of the inside-the-park homer, but because of the way we hung in there.''

While the Reds hugged and hopped, pitcher Andy Benes (7-7) stood behind home plate, stunned by the game's final twist. Griffey's hit would have been nothing more than a one-out double if it hadn't bounced off Edmonds' foot and skirted the warning track.

''The track is rubber, so the ball was bouncing off it like a golf ball,'' Robinson said. ''What can you do?''

The loss dropped the Cardinals three games behind Houston in the NL Central and provided an unsettling finish to their winning streak. A clean, crisp game through eight innings turned wacky in the ninth and stayed that way.

The Cardinals took a 2-1 lead into the ninth on the strength of two homers. Albert Pujols became the first to clear the majors' tallest wall, hitting one over the 40-foot barrier in center in the fourth. J.D. Drew homered in the eighth for a 2-1 lead.

Mike Timlin got the first out in the ninth before Pokey Reese singled and things got weird. Timlin fielded Wilton Guerrero's high-hop grounder, then threw wildly to first for an error that sent Reese to third.

Second baseman Fernando Vina charged Griffey's soft grounder, missed it, got run over by Guerrero -- and got called for obstruction, prompting the Cardinals to play under protest.

The Cardinals thought it was interference on Guerrero, which would have kept the tying run at third.

''I was going to get the ball, and all of a sudden, I got hit,'' Vina said. ''I didn't see him. He got me good.''

It seemed a moot point when first baseman Sean Casey misplayed Bobby Bonilla's grounder for a run-scoring error and Edmonds had an RBI single off Danny Graves in the 10th.

Over? Not even close.

Benes, trying for his first save since 1994, gave up consecutive one-out homers by Todd Walker and Kelly Stinnett in the bottom of the inning. Left-hander Dennys Reyes then pinch hit, grounded to Edgar Renteria and got to second when the shortstop bounced his throw for another error.

Edmonds caught Reese's fly to deep center for the second out, but evidently thought it was the third out. He took his time turning to the infield, and pinch runner Lance Davis tagged and was waved home, only to be caught in a rundown.

It was that kind of a game. The Cardinals used eight pitchers, the Reds six -- four on the mound, one to pinch hit and one to pinch run. There were four errors and enough twists to keep the umpires in conferences.

John Riedling (1-1) pitched the 11th, getting the win in a game that had been right at the Cardinals' fingertips.

Mark McGwire batted sixth for the second straight game and had a walk and a single in five plate appearances. Hitting sixth for the first time since 1994, the struggling slugger has gotten three singles and a double.

Cubs 7, Brewers 4, 1st Game

Brewers 10, Cubs 2, 2nd Game

CHICAGO -- Jamey Wright (9-8) won for the first time in six weeks and Kevin Brown hit a three-run homer as Milwaukee earned a doubleheader split. In the opener, Sammy Sosa hit his 45th homer and Delino DeShields hit a bases-loaded triple with two outs in the eighth as the Cubs rallied from three runs down.

Sosa hit his 46th homer in the nightcap, his 11th homer in 16 games, but it wasn't nearly enough as the second-place Cubs stayed two games behind Houston in the NL Central.



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