Ken Griffey Jr. made a dramatic return to the Cincinnati Reds' lineup last night, hitting a three-run homer in the bottom of the 11th inning for a 5-4 victory over the Washington Nationals in Cincinnati.
The 36-year-old outfielder hit the second pitch from Joey Eischen (0-1) for his 539th career homer, and one of the most unlikely in the bunch. Griffey hadn't played for a month because of a strained tendon behind his right knee.
The Reds rallied against one of the NL's most overworked bullpens to set up Griffey's decisive swing. Felipe Lopez had a run-scoring single in the 11th off Felix Rodriguez, who then walked Edwin Encarnacion with one out and the Nationals clinging to a 4-2 lead.
After a called strike, Griffey connected on a 413-foot homer that brought gleeful teammates out of the dugout to celebrate. He dropped his head, pursed his lips, and raised his arms while rounding the bases.
Then, he was mobbed at the plate and brought out for a curtain call by the few thousand fans left in the stands.
''After you hit it, it's like cloud nine," Griffey said. ''It's awesome."
Reds starter Bronson Arroyo pitched eight shutout innings and turned over a 1-0 lead to the bullpen. But David Weathers blew the save as Matt LeCroy tied it at 1 in the ninth with a shallow sacrifice fly.
''It's absolutely a waste for that game to get away from us," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. ''It kicks you right in the gut. It's one you don't forget about easily."
Phillies 2, Mets 0 -- Center fielder Aaron Rowand broke his nose on a spectacular run-saving catch, Chase Utley homered, and host Philadelphia beat New York in a five-inning, rain-shortened game.
With games already rained out in Baltimore and Pittsburgh, the Phillies started this one 12 minutes late and played in a steady drizzle until it started pouring, which forced it to be stopped after the Mets batted in the top of the fifth inning.
Gavin Floyd (4-2) gave up two hits and walked four in five innings to help the Phillies take two of three from the Mets and move within three games of the NL East leaders.
Padres 8, Brewers 5 -- Jake Peavy tied his career high with 13 strikeouts and gave up two hits in seven scoreless innings to lead host San Diego to its 11th victory in 12 games.
The Padres took two of three from the Brewers, who ended San Diego's nine-game winning streak Tuesday night.
The Brewers, who struck out 16 times and didn't score until after Peavy left, have lost seven of nine. They went 1-5 on a six-game road trip through Los Angeles and San Diego.
Peavy (3-3) has had a few shaky outings this year and entered the game with an uncharacteristic 4.17 ERA. But yesterday he looked more like the pitcher whose 2.27 ERA in 2004 was the best in the majors, and who led the NL last year with 216 strikeouts.
Giants 9, Cubs 3 -- Barry Bonds remained stuck on 713 home runs, but he still contributed with two walks that keyed a pair of rallies as host San Francisco beat Chicago.
He was walked in a five-run first inning and again ahead of Steve Finley's bases-loaded triple in the fourth as the Giants gave Jamey Wright (3-3) more than enough support.
San Francisco scored six runs following Bonds's walks.
Braves 9, Marlins 1 -- Dontrelle Willis was roughed up again, and visiting Atlanta got a season-high 18 hits to back Tim Hudson over struggling Florida.
Matt Diaz went 5 for 5 with two runs and an RBI. Andruw Jones and Todd Pratt each hit a two-run double in Atlanta's six-run third inning against Willis, who has lost four straight starts for the first time in his career.
A 22-game winner last season and runner-up for the NL Cy Young Award, Willis (1-4) gave up seven runs and 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings. His ERA climbed to 6.22. Willis's only win was April 14 against Washington.
Astros 4, Dodgers 2 -- Wandy Rodriguez took a shutout into the seventh inning, Dan Wheeler escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth, and visiting Houston snapped a six-game losing streak.
All-Star closer Brad Lidge gave up a run-scoring single to pinch hitter Willy Aybar in the ninth and loaded the bases with two outs before he was pulled. Wheeler then retired Kenny Lofton on a routine fly for his first save.
Lidge has 11 saves in 14 attempts. Two of those blown saves came in consecutive games against the Dodgers in Houston last month.
Blue Jays 8, Athletics 3 -- Troy Glaus homered twice and drove in four runs, Ted Lilly pitched effectively into the eighth inning to beat his former team, and host Toronto beat Oakland.
Glaus hit a three-run homer off Kirk Saarloos (1-1) in the third inning and a solo shot in the fifth for his 21st career multihomer game.
The Diamondbacks-Pirates game in Pittsburgh was rained out. It will be made up June 19 at 12:35 p.m., previously an offday for both teams.
The scheduled game between the Angels and White Sox in Chicago was postponed because of rain. No makeup date was announced.
The scheduled game between the Tigers and Orioles in Baltimore also was postponed because of rain. No makeup date was announced. It was Detroit's last scheduled game at Camden Yards this season.