Griffey Passes McGwire; Clemens Comes Out Of Bullpen

Monday, June 25th 2007, 7:49 am
By: News On 6

Ken Griffey Jr. moved up on the home run chart, Roger Clemens came out of the bullpen and Josh Beckett beat Jake Peavy in marqued de matchup of aces.

While several big stars were on center stage Sunday, a little-known Toronto pitcher took his shot at history, too.

Dustin McGowan's bid for the second no-hitter in Blue Jays history ended when Jeff Baker singled leading off the ninth inning, and Toronto beat the visiting Colorado Rockies 5-0 to complete a three-game sweep.

``That was the best pitched game I've seen in a long time,'' Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.

Back in Seattle, Griffey capped a warm homecoming by hitting two home runs to pass Mark McGwire for seventh place on the career list in the Cincinnati Reds' 3-2 loss to the Mariners. The slugger connected twice off Miguel Batista for his 583rd and 584th home runs, tying and then passing McGwire.

Afterward, Griffey said he wants to return to the Emerald City again _ to retire as a Mariner.

``You always want to retire with the team you started with,'' he said. ``But I've still got a few more years. So I don't think it's anytime soon.''

When asked to clarify whether he'd like to play for Seattle again, Griffey said, ``I don't know. That depends on a lot of things, health and everything else.''

Griffey didn't specify whether he'd like to return as an active player or simply for a ceremonial contract before retiring. The 37-year-old former Seattle icon is signed with his hometown Reds through 2008. They hold a $16.5 million option in 2009 with a $4 million buyout.

In San Francisco, Clemens made his first regular-season relief appearance since he was a Red Sox rookie in 1984, walking Barry Bonds on five pitches before yielding one run in the seventh inning of the New York Yankees' 7-2 loss to the Giants.

Clemens, who lost in Colorado on Thursday and missed a chance for his 350th win, yielded a sacrifice fly by Nate Schierholtz that raised his ERA to 5.09. But the 44-year-old right-hander also elevated his esteem in the eyes of any New York fans or teammates who might have doubted his commitment to the club.

``If the manager trusts you enough to put you in, you want to be ready,'' Clemens said. ``I watched the last couple of days. Any chance I can give the bullpen guys a chance to rest _ they've been taxed.''

Of course, Clemens came out of the bullpen to earn the win for Houston in an 18-inning playoff game against Atlanta in 2005, the longest postseason game in major league history. That victory sent his hometown Astros to the NL championship series.

At San Diego, Beckett (11-1) became baseball's first 11-game winner and Boston touched up Peavy (9-2) in a 4-2 victory over the Padres.

``He's obviously, if not the best, one of the best in the game, and we did make him work hard,'' Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. ``And fortunately for us, one of the other best is on our team, and he was great.''

The Beckett-Peavy matchup was just the third in history in which two opposing starters each had nine or more wins against one or fewer losses. The previous one was when Toronto's Clemens (11-1) faced Atlanta's Denny Neagle (9-1) on June 16, 1997.

Jason Varitek tripled and homered for the AL East leaders, who took two of three from the Padres.

In other interleague games, it was: Detroit 5, Atlanta 0; Minnesota 7, Florida 4; the New York Mets 10, Oakland 2; the Chicago Cubs 3, the Chicago White Sox 0; Houston 12, Texas 9 in 10 innings; Arizona 8, Baltimore 3; the Los Angeles Angels 4, Pittsburgh 3 in 10 innings; Tampa Bay 9, the Los Angeles Dodgers 4; Kansas City 4, Milwaukee 3 in 11 innings; and Washington 3, Cleveland 1.

In the only NL game, Philadelphia beat St. Louis 5-1.

Tigers 5, Braves 0

Andrew Miller (3-1) threw six sharp innings and the Tigers won their seventh straight game _ all on the road against NL teams. The AL Central-leading Tigers finished 14-4 in interleague play, tying the Angels for the best mark in the majors.

The Braves (38-38) have lost five straight, including four by shutout, to fall to .500 for the first time this season. The Braves have been outscored 27-1 in the five losses, their longest skid of the season.

Twins 7, Marlins 4

At Miami, Johan Santana (8-6) pitched six innings and drove in a run with his first career triple. Joe Mauer hit two homers for the Twins, who have won both games while scoring 18 runs since 2006 AL MVP Justin Morneau was sidelined with a bruised lung.

Mets 10, Athletics 2

John Maine (8-4) pitched seven solid innings and the Mets finished their first series sweep at home since last August. Jose Valentin had three hits, including a three-run homer.

Cubs 3, White Sox 0

Alfonso Soriano showed off his power and his arm, and the Cubs completed a three-game sweep.

Soriano cut down a runner at the plate in the fifth with a strong throw and then hit his third homer of the series in the seventh _ also his 15th of the season and 11th this month. Sean Marshall (4-2) allowed five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the White Sox, who have lost 22 of 27.

Jose Contreras (5-8) allowed 10 hits and two runs in seven innings.

Astros 12, Rangers 9, 10 innings

At Arlington, Texas, Craig Biggio's 2,996th hit was a tiebreaking RBI double in the 10th, helping Houston avoid a sweep.

After the Astros bullpen blew another save _ allowing six runs in the eighth and ninth innings _ Biggio's double scored Morgan Ensberg. Biggio, who scored on a single by Lance Berkman, is within four hits of becoming the 27th player with 3,000.

Diamondbacks 8, Orioles 3

Stephen Drew and Chad Tracy homered, Eric Byrnes drove in two runs and host Arizona moved back into first place in the NL West with its seventh victory in nine games.

The Diamondbacks built an early lead and coasted behind Doug Davis (5-8). Brian Roberts homered and had four hits for the Orioles, who have lost 16 of 21.

Angels 4, Pirates 3, 10 innings

At Anaheim, Calif., Erick Aybar singled home the winning run and Jose Molina had two RBIs, leading Los Angeles to a three-game sweep. The AL West leaders won their fourth straight. The Pirates have lost five in a row, matching their longest skid this season.

Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez gave up the tying run in the ninth on Xavier Nady's RBI single and was charged with his second blown save in 24 attempts.

Devil Rays 9, Dodgers 4

At St. Petersburg, Fla., Edwin Jackson (1-8) beat his former team for his first win in almost two years, and Ty Wigginton homered off Hong-Chih Kuo (1-3) for Tampa Bay.

Royals 4, Brewers 3, 11 innings

Joey Gathright's bases-loaded walk off Chris Spurling lifted Kansas City. Corey Hart and Tony Graffanino homered for the Brewers.

Nationals 3, Indians 1

At Washington, Jason Simontacchi (5-5) shut down the Indians for six innings and Jesus Flores drove in two runs. Chad Cordero got his 13th save.

Jake Westbrook (1-3) came off the disabled list and pitched seven solid innings for Cleveland in his first start since May 2.

National League

Phillies 5, Cardinals 1

At St. Louis, pinch-hitter Shane Victorino had a tiebreaking, three-run double in the eighth.