Griffey retaliates with long balls

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 14, 2000

The Associated Press

DENVER – Ken Griffey Jr.

Friday, July 14, 2000

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DENVER – Ken Griffey Jr. doesn’t need a young, unproven pitcher sticking up for him. He has his own method of retaliation.

Griffey hit his second homer of the game three innings after being drilled in the back Thursday night as Cincinnati beat the Colorado Rockies 15-6 in a game that featured five Reds home runs.

Reds starter Elmer Dessens (2-0) triggered a heated exchange of words in the eighth when he hit Colorado star Larry Walker. Griffey appreciated the gesture, but said he would rather pay the Rockies back with his bat.

”If I get a chance to face that pitcher, I’d rather try to decapitate him,” Griffey said, speaking in general terms. ”You don’t like things coming at you, so they don’t like things coming at them.”

Griffey’s 30 homers tied him with Mark McGwire for the major league lead, and he also scored four times to help Cincinnati hand Colorado its eighth straight loss. The Rockies fell to 28-10 at Coors Field.

”We’re playing real bad right now,” Walker said. ”Maybe (the beanball war) was the kick-start we need. If that’s the case, that’s great what happened tonight.”

Behind homers from Griffey, Barry Larkin and Sean Casey, the Reds built a 10-0 lead against Rockies starter Pedro Astacio (7-6), who hit Griffey in the back in the fifth inning.

Dessens threw a pitch behind Helton in the seventh and then hit Walker in the eighth. Walker, playing with a sore right elbow, walked toward the mound as players emerged from both dugouts and the outfield bullpens.

No punches were thrown, but Rockies manager Buddy Bell was ejected while arguing with umpire Dana DeMuth, and Walker blatantly tried to run over second baseman Pokey Reese on an infield single by Jeff Cirillo.

”If I didn’t have a bummed-up elbow, I probably would have went out to the mound,” Walker said. ”I’ve always said that guys are cowards that actually walk halfway there and point their bat, but don’t go out. My answer back was going into second hard.”

Rockies reliever Jose Jimenez was ejected for grazing Eddie Taubensee in the ninth.

Neither Bell nor Reds manager Jack McKeon wanted to comment on the controversy, but Cincinnati shortstop Barry Larkin came to Walker’s defense.

”He had no business hitting Walker,” Larkin said. ”There was no explanation for it. We just needed to play the game. Hitting Walker was uncalled for.”

Staked to a big lead, Dessens gave up six runs and nine hits. He didn’t allow a runner past first base until Helton doubled with one out in the fifth.

”We’re having trouble throwing the first punch,” Bell said. ”We’re really getting behind early. Hopefully, we can change that. We are very capable of playing very well. I expect for us to do that very shortly.”

Through interpreter Dennys Reyes, Dessens denied hitting Walker intentionally and said he was surprised at the reaction.

”I didn’t think that was going to happen,” he said. ”I guess it was the heat of the battle.”

Astacio struggled from the start, allowing Griffey’s 29th homer of the season in the first. Astacio matched a career high by surrendering 10 earned runs in six innings.

Reds third baseman Chris Stynes was 3-for-4, scoring four runs. Stynes reinforced his status as the top hitter in Coors Field history. He is 29-for-55 (.527) at Coors.

Notes: For the second time this season, Bell was managing against a son. He faced David Bell when the Rockies played the Seattle Mariners and looked across the field at Mike Bell on Thursday. Mike Bell is still waiting for his major league debut for the Reds. … Rockies 3B Jeff Cirillo held a news conference to announce a four-year contract extension that includes a team option for 2006. … Reds OF Dante Bichette played for the first time since July 5. He missed three straight games with a bruised left shin. … Larkin ended a 15-game RBI drought. … Griffey’s first homer was his 427th, moving him past Billy Williams for 26th on the career list.