Reds 6, Cardinals 0
Ken Griffey Jr. trotted around the bases as if it were just another home run. It was anything but that.
Griffey hit a 2-2 fastball from Matt Morris into the right field stands to lead off the sixth inning Sunday, securing a spot in the record books as the 20th player with 500 homers.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd ever accomplish this," Griffey said. "All the aches and pains I've had this year were gone for like two minutes. It was awesome."
The star center fielder ended a frustrating stretch with the swing, which helped the Cincinnati Reds beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-0. At 34, he became the sixth-youngest player to reach the milestone.
Griffey, stuck on No. 499 for a week, took a few extra seconds to watch his drive fly into the seats, then dropped his bat and slowly trotted around the bases with his 19th homer of the season.
"I'm sure he's relieved," Manager Dave Miley said. "I'm sure he's happy to get it over with."
The base coaches simply shook Griffey's hand as he passed by. When Griffey crossed the plate, he tapped fists with teammate Adam Dunn, who then patted Griffey on the helmet. All of his teammates then came out onto the field to congratulate him after the historic homer.
"I just told him, 'About time,' " Barry Larkin said. "That's all."
Griffey then went to a box next to the Reds' dugout and hugged his father, Ken Griffey Sr., and children. The elder Griffey said Junior told him, simply, "Happy Father's Day."
Ken Griffey Sr. said, though, that his son won't get off that easily.
"It was a nice Father's Day present, but it's an easy way to get out of giving me something," Griffey Sr. said. "He used to do that for me for my birthday all the time."
Griffey Jr. jokingly said he gets his dad the same thing every Father's Day. "Old Spice and underwear," he said.
Griffey, the first to reach 500 in a Cincinnati uniform, got a warm ovation from a sellout crowd of 45,620 on Lou Brock bobblehead day. He then received a standing ovation as he ran out to the field before the bottom of the sixth, responding with a wave of his cap.
Before Griffey reached center field, Reds relievers came out of the bullpen and congratulated him.
"I really appreciate it," Griffey said. "I thought for sure [Sean] Casey was going to blindside me."
The ball was caught by 19-year-old Mark Crummley of Mount Carmel, Ill., who gave it back to Griffey after the game. Griffey gave Crummley the jersey off his back and a large shopping bag filled with other memorabilia that included a signed bat from Casey.
"It didn't seem right to plea bargain," Crummley said. "So I gave it back to him."
Jung Keun Bong (1-1) allowed three hits in six scoreless innings and three relievers finished a combined four-hit shutout to end the Reds' nine-game road losing streak. The slump was the team's longest since they dropped 10 in a row from June 1-24, 1998.
The Reds, who got a three-run homer from Jason LaRue in the fourth, also averted a three-game sweep and ended the Cardinals' six-game winning streak.