Griffey still stuck on 599

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 9, 2008

The Associated Press

MIAMI (AP) — Hanley Ramirez has rediscovered his power stroke. Ken Griffey Jr. is still trying to find his.

Ramirez homered twice and Ryan Tucker pitched five effective innings to win in his major league debut, leading the Florida Marlins past the Cincinnati Reds 9-2 on Sunday.

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‘‘I don’t think about hitting home runs at all,’’ Ramirez said. ‘‘I just think about staying inside the ball.’’

Griffey remained one home run shy of becoming the sixth player to reach 600 for a career after going 0-for-1 with two walks. He was replaced in the middle of the seventh, and hasn’t homered since May 31.

Ramirez hit two two-run homers off Aaron Harang (2-9), giving him five in his last five games. Dan Uggla had two doubles and three RBIs, and Jorge Cantu added two hits and an RBI for the Marlins.

Tucker (1-0) allowed one run, two hits, five walks — one intentional — and struck out six in five innings. The right-hander was selected from Double-A Carolina of the Southern League before the game.

‘‘The young man over there threw the ball pretty good,’’ Reds manager Dusty Baker said. ‘‘He was wild; he was effectively wild.’’

After learning of his promotion Friday night, Tucker said he spent Saturday trying to corral his nerves and listening to his minor-league teammates warning him about pitching to Griffey.

‘‘They were saying, ‘Don’t give it up, don’t give it up,’’’ Tucker said. ‘‘I just tried to let that go. As awesome as it would have been for him to get No. 600, I didn’t want to be the one to give it up.’’

Harang gave up eight runs — seven earned — and 11 hits while striking out four in 5 1-3 innings. He has dropped his last four decisions.

‘‘I don’t have a feel for anything right now,’’ Harang said. ‘‘Leaving pitches over the plate, it’s just not normal for me. I’ve got to work on some stuff and figure out what it is and go from there.’’

Ramirez’s two-run homer and Uggla’s two-run double in the fifth helped the Marlins build a 6-1 lead. Florida added three more runs in the sixth to pull away.

Ramirez has increased his production since returning to the leadoff spot May 21 after batting .268 while hitting third.

‘‘With that kind of talent, and him getting on base like that, he’s always a threat,’’ Uggla said. ‘‘If we’re going to be successful, that’s what we need.’’

Cincinnati’s Corey Patterson, hitting where Griffey had been in the lineup, homered to lead off the eighth to make it 9-2.

Harang’s two-out run-scoring single in the second gave the Reds a 1-0 lead. Florida tied it on Cantu’s RBI single with two outs in the third.

The Marlins took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Cody Ross’ sacrifice fly scored Uggla.

Notes: Griffey left the stadium without speaking to reporters. Baker said he expected Griffey to be in the lineup for Monday night’s series finale. … Patterson’s homer snapped an 0-for-24 skid. … The multihomer effort was Ramirez’s third of the season and seventh overall.