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Matched against an elite big-game pitcher in an electric atmosphere overloaded with emotion from toxic comments by teammate Brandon Phillips and the surprise arrival of Jim Edmonds, Reds rookie Mike Leake unraveled versus the Cardinals.

mike_leakeOn Aug. 9, 2010, Reds manager Dusty Baker gave Leake the start in the opener of a showdown series against the Cardinals at Cincinnati. St. Louis manager Tony La Russa countered with an ace, Chris Carpenter.

After a scoreless duel for three innings, Leake cracked. He yielded seven runs in the fourth and became unnerved, losing track of the number of outs and heading toward the dugout before being sent back to the mound.

Emboldened, the Cardinals won the game, swept the series and overtook the Reds for first place in the National League Central Division.

Leake rebounded from that embarrassment. He posted a 64-52 record and 3.88 ERA in six years with the Reds and Giants. On Dec. 22, 2015, Leake, a free agent, signed with the Cardinals.

Queen City drama

In 2010, the Reds were seeking their first NL Central title in 15 years. On the morning of Aug. 9, they held a two-game lead over the second-place Cardinals entering a three-game series against them.

The tension between the division rivals, already high, was intensified that day by two developments:

_ Reds general manager Walt Jocketty acquired Edmonds from the Brewers for outfielder Chris Dickerson.

Jocketty had won two NL pennants and a World Series title as Cardinals general manager before he was fired after the 2007 season. Edmonds had been the Cardinals’ center fielder and a slugger on those championship clubs, then was traded after Jocketty departed.

Edmonds joined four other former Cardinals _ third baseman Scott Rolen, infielder Miguel Cairo and pitchers Russ Springer and Mike Lincoln _ on the Reds.

_ In an interview with Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News, Phillips lit into the Cardinals. McCoy posted the comments online before the game and the Cardinals read the remarks.

Said Phillips of the Cardinals: “All they do is bitch and moan about everything, all of them. They’re little bitches … I really hate the Cardinals. Compared to the Cardinals, I love the Chicago Cubs. Let me make this clear: I hate the Cardinals.”

Schumaker slam

Baker started a lineup that night with Phillips in the leadoff spot, Rolen at cleanup and Edmonds, in his Reds debut, batting fifth.

The Cardinals focused on trying to lay off Leake’s sinker and get him to deliver pitches up in the strike zone.

In the fourth, that strategy paid dividends.

The first six Cardinals batters that inning produced six hits and six runs on 12 pitches.

Jon Jay doubled and Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus and Yadier Molina each singled. The hits by Holliday and Rasmus each drove in a run. Molina’s single loaded the bases for Skip Schumaker, who was playing his first game since spraining his left wrist Aug. 3.

Leake’s first pitch to Schumaker was on the outside corner. Schumaker swung and drove the ball 408 feet over the wall in left-center field for his first career grand slam, giving St. Louis a 6-0 lead. Video

Dazed and confused

“They got six in a span of 12 pitches,” Baker said to the Associated Press. “It happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to get anybody warmed up.”

After Schumaker’s slam, Leake struck out Carpenter and Brendan Ryan, then jogged off the mound and was at the foul line before he realized there were two outs, not three.

Leake returned to the mound and pitched to Felipe Lopez, who singled. That’s when Baker lifted Leake. Reliever Carlos Fisher walked Jay and yielded a single to Pujols, scoring Lopez. That run was charged to Leake, whose final line showed seven runs allowed in 3.2 innings.

Good plan

In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Joe Strauss wrote, “The Cards perfectly executed an early attack against Leake … They noticed a flattening of Leake’s assortment in his previous start and adopted a very aggressive tact.”

Said Schumaker: “That was the game plan from the very beginning. He’s a strike thrower. He gets a lot of groundballs. He’s very effective and he knows how to pitch.”

The Cardinals won, 7-3, and moved within a game of the Reds. Boxscore

Phillips was 0-for-5. Edmonds and Rolen also were hitless.

“I’m guessing Phillips really hated seeing Schumaker hit the grand slam, a massive hit that wasn’t very Cubs-like,” wrote Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz.

Said Schumaker: “I didn’t know we had bad blood. They can talk. We’ll leave our comments to ourselves.”

Tempers flare

The next night, Aug. 10, Phillips sparked a brawl between the teams when, in the batter’s box, he used his bat to tap Molina’s shin guards. Molina responded angrily, both benches emptied and the fight carried to the backstop.

Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto kicked Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue in the head and he also kicked Carpenter in the back. Baker and La Russa were ejected.

The Cardinals won that game, 8-4, and moved into a tie with the Reds for first place. Boxscore

On Aug. 11, the Cardinals completed the sweep with a 6-1 triumph. Rasmus hit a grand slam off Bronson Arroyo, Adam Wainwright pitched seven shutout innings and the Cardinals had first place to themselves.

The Reds, though, recovered and went on to win the division title, finishing five games ahead of the runner-up Cardinals.

Previously: Cardinals classic: Skip Schumaker bests Roy Halladay

Previously: Carlos Beltran like Will Clark with fast start for Cards

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If Jedd Gyorko hits as well for the Cardinals as he did against them, St. Louis will have added a productive batter to its lineup.

jedd_gyorkoAcquired by the Cardinals from the Padres in a trade for outfielder Jon Jay on Dec. 8, 2015, Gyorko entered the 2016 season as a versatile infielder who can perform at second base, shortstop and third base.

His career batting average versus the Cardinals is .342 (25-for-73), with five home runs and 16 RBI in 20 games.

Two of Gyorko’s best games came against the Cardinals in 2014.

Here is a look at those performances:

Sweet swing

Batting sixth and playing second base, Gyorko was 3-for-5 with four RBI and two runs scored against the Cardinals in a 12-1 Padres victory at San Diego on July 30, 2014.

He got a hit apiece off three pitchers.

Gyorko began his barrage with a solo home run in the fourth inning off starter Joe Kelly.

“Pitches were up that should have been down,” Kelly told the Associated Press.

In the sixth, Gyorko singled off Carlos Martinez. An inning later, with the bases loaded and one out, Gyorko hit a three-run double off Seth Maness, giving San Diego a 9-1 lead.

‘It was probably our ugliest loss of the year,” said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.

Gyorko had been activated two days earlier after a 44-day stint on the disabled list because of foot problems.

“It obviously feels good to swing the bat the way I wanted to,” Gyorko said. “It feels a lot like how I was swinging it there at the end of the year last year. It’s something to build on, but I still have a long way to go.” Boxscore

Grand game

Two weeks later, on Aug. 16, 2014, at St. Louis, Gyorko hit a grand slam, lifting the Padres to a 9-5 victory over the Cardinals.

Batting fifth and playing second base, Gyorko was 2-for-3 with five RBI, two runs scored and two walks.

In the third, Gyorko’s two-out, RBI-single off Shelby Miller scored Abraham Almonte from third base, sparking a four-run Padres inning and tying the score at 4-4.

Said Miller: “Unacceptable. Obviously, it doesn’t sit well with me. I should have done a better job of making pitches.”

The Cardinals led, 5-4, entering the seventh. With one out and the bases loaded, Gyorko connected on a 94-mph fastball from reliever Kevin Siegrist, launching a grand slam over the left field wall and giving the Padres an 8-5 lead.

“It was a fastball down and in,” Gyorko said. “It probably wasn’t a bad pitch. I just put a good swing on it.”

The home run was the 31st of Gyorko’s big-league career, moving him past Mark Loretta as the Padres’ all-time home run leader as a second baseman.

“That’s a credit to the guys hitting in front of me,” Gyorko told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Really, they are doing a great job of getting on base. I just have to capitalize more like tonight.”

The grand slam was the third of Gyorko’s big-league career and the only one yielded by Siegrist with the Cardinals. Boxscore

Afterward, Siegrist was demoted to the minor leagues and Martinez was recalled from Class AAA Memphis to replace him.

Said Matheny of Siegrist: “He feels physically strong, but there’s just something that’s a click off.”

Previously: Cards steals leader Jon Jay plays similar to Wally Moon

Previously: Jon Jay matched Curt Flood as flawless in center

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Of the many duels the Reds’ Jim O’Toole had with the Cardinals, none was more bizarre than his performance in the first game of a 1963 doubleheader. Even without his nemesis, Ken Boyer, in the lineup, O’Toole was pummeled by the Cardinals, but still won.

jim_otooleAn all-star starter in 1963, O’Toole, 78, died on Dec. 26, 2015.

A left-hander, O’Toole posted double-digit wins for the Reds in five consecutive seasons (1960-64). In nine years with Cincinnati, O’Toole was 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA in 38 appearances, including 32 starts, against the Cardinals.

His best game versus St. Louis was on May 6, 1960, when he pitched a four-hitter in a 1-0 Reds triumph. Boxscore

His worst game against St. Louis was on June 7, 1962, when he was rocked for six runs and 10 hits in 4.1 innings in an 8-2 Cardinals victory. Boxscore

Perhaps the most memorable was the escape act he performed on May 5, 1963, at Cincinnati.

Grim work

Though he yielded 12 hits, walked two, had two batters reach base on errors and threw a wild pitch before he was lifted with two on and none out in the seventh, O’Toole got his major league-leading sixth win of the season in a 5-4 Reds victory.

The Cardinals had two runners thrown out at home, two runners caught attempting to steal second, grounded into a double play and stranded nine.

In addition, “several Redbird smashes were kept in the ballpark by a treacherous wind,” The Sporting News reported.

“There’ll be games like that all season because the league is so well balanced,” said Cardinals general manager Bing Devine.

The Reds never trailed. Or, as the Associated Press noted, “The Reds scored three runs in the opening inning and held on grimly.”

O’Toole did the bulk of that grim work.

Unconventional script

Among the twists and turns:

_ O’Toole retired the first four batters he faced.

_ In the second inning, with the Reds ahead, 3-1, the Cardinals had Leo Burke on second and Gene Oliver on first with one out. Julian Javier grounded to shortstop Leo Cardenas, who booted the ball. Javier reached first safely on the error. Burke rounded third and headed for home. Cardenas recovered in time and threw to catcher Johnny Edwards, who tagged out Burke.

_ With two outs in the fourth and the Reds ahead, 4-2, the Cardinals had Javier on third and Ray Sadecki on first. O’Toole uncorked a wild pitch, enabling Sadecki to reach second. Dick Groat singled, scoring Javier but left fielder Frank Robinson’s throw to Edwards nailed Sadecki at the plate for the third out.

_ In the seventh, Curt Flood doubled and Groat followed with a RBI-single, knocking O’Toole from the game and cutting the Reds’ lead to 5-4. Al Worthington relieved. Bill White singled, with Groat moving to third. The rally unraveled when George Altman struck out, White was caught attempting to steal and Charlie James flied out. Boxscore

Perhaps the outcome would have been different if Boyer had played.

O’Toole tormentor

Two nights earlier, in the series opener, Boyer was injured when Edwards spiked him while sliding into third. Boyer needed 13 stiches to close two wounds. He wouldn’t return to the lineup until after the Cardinals left Cincinnati.

Boyer had the most career hits (36) against O’Toole of any batter. He hit .468 (36-for-77) with five doubles, four home runs, 10 walks and 22 RBI versus O’Toole. Boyer’s career on-base percentage against him was .529.

In O’Toole’s first three full seasons with the Reds, Boyer haunted him, hitting .636 (7-for-11) in 1959, .462 (6-for-13) in 1960 and .750 (6-for-8) in 1961 (when O’Toole earned 19 wins and was second in the National League in ERA), according to Baseball-Reference.com.

O’Toole was the starting pitcher in the 1963 All-Star Game at Cleveland when the NL started an all-Cardinals infield of White at first, Javier at second, Groat at shortstop and Boyer at third.

In the second inning of that game, the American League had Leon Wagner on second, Zolio Versalles on first, two outs and pitcher Ken McBride at the plate.

McBride hit a grounder to Boyer’s left. He dived for the ball, but it deflected off his glove and into left field for a RBI-single, tying the score. Boxscore

Previously: 1963 NL all-stars started all-Cardinals infield

Previously: Why John Tsitouris forever will be linked to Cardinals

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Sunday night baseball, a standard feature on today’s major-league schedule, was a radical idea, born of necessity, when the Cardinals first experienced it in 1963.

hal_brownAt that time, the Houston Colt .45s, in their second National League season, played their home games at an outdoor ballpark. In the summer, the oppressive Texas heat and humidity made day baseball uncomfortable, if not impractical, for fans and players.

“Rivals agreed that it’s too hot to play on Sunday afternoons,” United Press International reported.

The 1963 Colt .45s became the first big-league club to schedule Sunday night home games. The first was against the Giants on June 9. The second was played against the Cardinals on June 30.

The winning pitcher in both games was a 38-year-old knuckleball specialist, Hal Brown.

This post is a tribute to Brown, who died Dec. 17, 2015, at age 91.

Need to be stingy

Brown, winding down his career with the weakest-hitting team in the National League, knew his best chance to win was to pitch a shutout for the Colt .45s.

The 1963 Colt .45s would rank last in the 10-team NL in runs (464), RBI (420) and home runs (62).

Brown earned five wins for the 1963 Colt .45s. He pitched complete-game shutouts _ two versus the Cardinals, including the Sunday night game, and one against the Phillies _ for three of those wins. In the other two, he pitched 6.1 innings of scoreless relief versus the Giants and held the Mets to three runs in a rain-shortened seven-inning start.

Thus, in his wins for the 1963 Colt .45s, Brown had an ERA of 0.66, yielding three runs in 49.1 innings.

Overall, Brown was 5-11 with a 3.31 ERA in 26 games, including 20 starts, for the 1963 Colt .45s. Brown yielded three runs or fewer in seven of his losses, with the Colt .45s scoring a total of five runs in those defeats.

Richards connection

Brown debuted in the major leagues with the 1951 White Sox. He also pitched for the Red Sox and Orioles before joining the Yankees in September 1962.

On April 21, 1963, the Yankees sent Brown to the Colt .45s for $25,000. Paul Richards, general manager of the Colt .45s, had been Brown’s manager with the White Sox and for most of his time with the Orioles. It was Richards who encouraged Brown to use the knuckleball.

“I don’t want a big knuckler,” Brown said to The Sporting News. “I want it to look just good enough to swing at. When you’re 38, you would rather get them out on one pitch than strike them out on three.”

Night moves

In the inaugural big-league Sunday night game, Brown relieved injured starter Turk Farrell with two outs in the third inning. Brown pitched the rest of the way, yielding one hit _ a Willie Mays single _ and retiring the last 17 Giants batters in a row for his first NL win in a 3-0 Colt .45s victory. Boxscore

Outside the ballpark, protesters opposed Sunday night baseball, according to the book “Colt .45s: A Six-Gun Salute.”

“It’s just plain wrong and ought not to be,” Baptist minister O.A. Taylor said of Sunday night games. “If they get by with this, they’ll start scheduling games on Sunday morning.”

Three weeks later, Brown got the start against the Cardinals in the second Sunday night game.

Brown pitched a complete-game seven hitter in a 1-0 Colt .45s victory. Houston scored in the fourth off starter Lew Burdette on John Bateman’s RBI-single.

Brown held the Cardinals to six singles and a triple, striking out six and walking one. He escaped several jams, including:

_ In the first inning, the Cardinals loaded the bases with two outs before Brown retired George Altman.

_ In the second, Curt Flood reached second with none out, but was caught attempting to steal third.

_ Altman tripled leading off the seventh. He was unable to advance on groundouts by Flood and Tim McCarver. Carl Sawatski flied out, ending the inning and stranding Altman at third.

_ In the eighth, the Cardinals had runners on first and third with one out. Brown retired Charlie James and Ken Boyer without allowing the runner from third to score.

“It was a weird but wonderful triumph,” wrote Mickey Herskowitz in The Sporting News.

Said Brown: “It’s a pretty good feeling to know you have to pitch a shutout to win and then to do it.” Boxscore

Brown shut out the Cardinals for the second time on Aug. 24, 1963, a Saturday night in Houston. He limited the Cardinals to four singles _ three by Flood and one by Altman _ in a 4-0 Colt .45s victory.

Stan Musial, making his final visit to Houston as a player and honored in ceremonies before the game, was 0-for-3 against Brown that night. Boxscore

Previously: From the start, Cardinals vs. Houston rivalry was special

Previously: Reds-Cardinals: Easter night to remember

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Fed up with contract hassles and uneasy with the prospect of playing for manager Eddie Dyer, Walker Cooper, the best catcher in the National League, wanted out of St. Louis. Seeing a surplus of suitors causing Cooper’s market value to skyrocket, Cardinals owner Sam Breadon was willing to accommodate him.

walker_cooper2Seventy years ago, on Jan. 5, 1946, the Cardinals sent Cooper to the Giants for $175,000.

The cash amount was the third-largest paid by a club to acquire a player, according to media reports at that time.

(In 1934, the Red Sox sent $250,000 and shortstop Lyn Lary to the Senators for shortstop Joe Cronin. In 1938, the Cubs gave $185,000, plus pitchers Curt Davis and Clyde Shoun and outfielder Tuck Stainback, to the Cardinals for pitcher Dizzy Dean.)

“I decided Cooper wasn’t satisfied here and would do better elsewhere,” Breadon said. “But get me right: Walker was a great player here and I consider him the greatest catcher in the majors since Bill Dickey of the Yankees was a young man.”

In the short term, the trade didn’t hurt the Cardinals. Without Cooper, they won the 1946 World Series championship.

In the long run, losing Cooper was a factor in the erosion of the Cardinals, who went 18 years before winning another World Series crown.

3-time all-star

Along with his brother Mort, a starting pitcher, Walker Cooper was a key player on Cardinals clubs that won three consecutive NL pennants and two World Series titles from 1942-44.

He was named an all-star catcher in each of those three seasons. His numbers:

_ 1942: Batted .281 with 32 doubles and 65 RBI. Ranked second among NL catchers in assists (62) and runners caught attempting to steal (58 percent). Batted .286 in the World Series.

_ 1943: Batted .318 with 30 doubles and 81 RBI. Caught 48 percent of runners attempting to steal. Batted .294 in the World Series.

_ 1944: Batted .317 with 25 doubles and 72 RBI. Caught 43 percent of runners attempting to steal. Batted .318 in the World Series.

Cooper also was touted for game-calling skills. “He’s the best fellow handling young pitchers I have ever seen,” said Coaker Triplett, a Cardinals outfielder from 1941-43.

Feuding with front office

The relationship between Cooper and the Cardinals soured, though, in 1945.

In spring training, Mort Cooper demanded a $15,000 contract. Breadon refused. In protest, Mort Cooper and Walker Cooper left camp and threatened to boycott the Cardinals’ opening series against the Cubs.

The brothers gave in and were with the club on Opening Day. Soon after, Walker Cooper was inducted into the Navy after playing four April games for the 1945 Cardinals. A month later, Mort Cooper was traded to the Braves.

While serving his Navy stint in 1945, Walker Cooper remained miffed at Cardinals management for the contract dispute and for dealing his brother.

Trade me

In October 1945, Walker Cooper called Breadon and requested a trade, the Cardinals owner told The Sporting News.

Cooper confirmed to the Associated Press that he had asked to be traded.

A month later, Cardinals manager Billy Southworth resigned and joined the Braves. Breadon replaced Southworth with Dyer. Cooper again contacted the Cardinals and “said he would rather not play under Dyer,” Breadon said.

Cooper’s problem with Dyer occurred when both were with the Cardinals’ Houston farm club during spring training in 1939. Cooper apparently clashed with Dyer, who had replaced Ira Smith as manager. Cooper was shipped to the Cardinals’ Asheville, N.C., affiliate.

“(Dyer) said there had been differences with Cooper in Houston, but he believed they could be ironed out,” Breadon said. “He felt a player didn’t have to like him personally if he played good ball for his team.”

Said Dyer: “I have always been able to get along with any ballplayer and I could have gotten along with Cooper, whom I consider the best catcher in baseball.”

In his book “Stan Musial: The Man’s Own Story,” Musial said, “Breadon said Coop didn’t want to play for Dyer, but the boss gave the persuasive manager no chance to talk to the catcher. The truth is, Mr. Breadon was annoyed at the Cooper boys for squabbling over salaries.”

Money talks

At the baseball winter meetings in December 1945, at least five clubs inquired about Cooper, with the Giants, Braves and Phillies making the most lucrative offers.

The Cardinals asked the Giants for $150,000 and three players. A few weeks later, the trade came together when the Giants offered to increase the cash amount to $175,000 if the Cardinals would drop their demand for players.

The transaction was announced three days before Cooper turned 31. It “kicked up more commotion among Polo Grounds customers than any deal since Frank Frisch was traded for Rogers Hornsby in 1926,” wrote The Sporting News.

Cooper was released from the Navy on April 2, 1946, and debuted with the Giants about two weeks later.

Looking back

His first season with New York was a dud. Cooper hit .268 with 46 RBI for a 1946 Giants team that finished in last place in the NL at 61-93. The 1946 Cardinals, using a platoon of Joe Garagiola and Del Rice at catcher, finished in first place at 98-58.

Cooper had an outstanding season for the 1947 Giants, hitting .305 with 35 home runs and 122 RBI. However, after he left the Cardinals, he never again played in a World Series.

After stints with the Reds, Braves, Pirates and Cubs, Cooper finished his career as a backup catcher for the 1956-57 Cardinals.

Meanwhile, neither Garagiola nor Rice performed at the level Cooper had for St. Louis.

In his book “Musial: From Stash to Stan the Man,” author James N. Giglio wrote, “Both Musial and (Enos) Slaughter rightly contended that the loss of Cooper cost the Redbirds several pennants.”

In choosing his all-time NL all-star team, Musial picked Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella “in a photo finish with Walker Cooper.”

Comparing the Cooper deal with the 1941 trade of St. Louis slugger Johnny Mize to the Giants, Musial said, “Big Coop’s sale by the Cardinals probably was even worse than the loss of Johnny Mize.”

Previously: Why Cardinals traded pitching ace Mort Cooper

Previously: Why Cardinals dealt ace Dizzy Dean to Cubs

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(Updated Jan. 6, 2016)

Born in the same town and on the same day in November as Stan Musial, Ken Griffey Jr. entered this world with a powerful Cardinals connection. He strengthened that special bond by joining Musial as an outfielder in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

ken_griffey_jrGriffey, on the ballot for the first time, was elected to the Cooperstown, N.Y., shrine on Jan. 6, 2016. Griffey received 99.3 percent of the votes from members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Like Musial, Griffey was born in Donora, Pa., on Nov. 21. Musial’s birth year was 1920 and Griffey’s was 1969 _ the same year Musial was elected to the Hall of Fame with 93.2 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility.

Musial and Griffey each batted left-handed and each played 22 years in the big leagues. Musial spent his entire career with the Cardinals from 1941 through 1963, with a year off in 1945 for military service. Griffey played for the Mariners, Reds and White Sox from 1989-2010.

Key career statistics for each:

Musial: 3,630 hits, 475 home runs, 1,951 RBI, 725 doubles, 6,134 total bases, .331 batting average and .417 on-base percentage.

Griffey: 2,781 hits, 630 home runs, 1,836 RBI, 524 doubles, 5,271 total bases, .284 batting average and .370 on-base percentage.

In 74 career games versus the Cardinals, all with the Reds, Griffey produced 74 hits, 22 home runs and 51 RBI.

He batted .289 with a .382 on-base percentage against St. Louis.

In chronological order, here are four of Griffey’s most memorable performances versus the Cardinals:

What a walkoff

On Aug. 20, 2001, Griffey hit an 11th-inning walkoff inside-the-park home run against reliever Andy Benes, breaking a 4-4 tie and carrying the Reds to a 5-4 victory at Cincinnati. The Cardinals had an 11-game winning streak snapped and the Reds ended an eight-game losing skid.

With one out and no one on in the 11th, Griffey hit a drive to left-center field. Jim Edmonds, the center fielder, and left fielder Kerry Robinson raced toward the ball.

Edmonds leaped against the wall, but the ball eluded him, caromed off his foot and rolled along the warning track toward the left-field corner. Robinson gave chase.

Griffey circled the bases and scored. “It probably was one of the most bizarre games I’ve ever been in,” Griffey said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Boxscore and Video

Four-hit game

Three nights later, Griffey came close to hitting for the cycle against the Cardinals on Aug. 23, 2001, at Cincinnati.

Griffey was 4-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored in a 12-2 Reds victory. He had two doubles and a single off starter Bud Smith and another home run against Benes.

In the fourth inning, Griffey nearly turned his second double into a triple.

According to The Cincinnati Post, Griffey’s drive “hit off the base of the wall in center and Griffey, gimpy hamstring and all, never hesitated coming around second.”

Edmonds threw to the relay man, second baseman Fernando Vina, who fired the ball to third baseman Albert Pujols.

“The relay throw to third got him by no more than a few inches, keeping Griffey from his cycle,” The Post reported.

In his postgame remarks to the Post-Dispatch, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of Griffey, “We sure didn’t pitch him very tough.” Boxscore

Milestone home run

After a visit from Musial, Griffey hit his 500th career home run on June 20, 2004, Father’s Day, in St. Louis.

Musial, who played on the same high school baseball team in Donora with Buddy Griffey, grandfather of Ken Griffey Jr., met with the Reds outfielder near the clubhouse before the game.

Musial then went home to watch the game on television. Attending the game at the stadium were Griffey’s mother, Birdie, and father, Ken Griffey Sr., who was the right fielder for the Reds’ World Series championship clubs in 1975 and 1976.

Birdie had told her son that this would be the day he would hit his milestone home run.

Leading off the sixth inning, Griffey launched a 2-and-2 pitch from starter Matt Morris over the right field wall, becoming the 20th player to achieve 500 home runs.

“I started smiling when I rounded second base,” Griffey told the Dayton Daily News. “I saw my dad sitting behind third base … He’s the person I wanted to be. He was my hero and he taught me everything.”

Recalling his mother’s prediction, Griffey said, “When I hit it, the first reaction was, ‘My mom is always right.’ ”

A delighted Musial told the Post-Dispatch, “I was rooting for him. It was great. The Griffeys are a nice family.” Boxscore and Video

The ball was caught by Mark Crummley, 19, a student at Southern Illinois University. Wearing a Pujols jersey, Crummley offered to give the ball to Griffey without compensation. He was taken to the Reds clubhouse, met Griffey and was given souvenirs, including the jersey Griffey wore at the end of the game.

Griffey was the second player to hit his 500th home run at Busch Stadium since the ballpark opened in 1966. The other was the Cardinals’ Mark McGwire off Andy Ashby of the Padres on Aug. 5, 1999.

New park, familiar result

On June 5, 2006, in his first game at the new Busch Stadium, Griffey lifted the Reds to an 8-7 comeback victory over the Cardinals.

Griffey was 3-for-5 with four RBI and two runs scored. He had a solo home run and a double off starter Jeff Suppan. The most damaging hit, though, came against closer Jason Isringhausen in the ninth.

With one out and the Cardinals ahead, 7-5, the Reds had runners on second and third. Though first base was open, Isringhausen worked to Griffey, with Adam Dunn on deck.

“It was a pretty good position to hit, knowing that I couldn’t hit into a double play,” Griffey said.

With the count full, Isringhausen grooved a fastball that Griffey hit for a three-run home run.

“I just settled down and got a pitch not in the zone he wanted,” Griffey said.

Said Isringhausen: “Bad night, bad location … I’ve never had this bad of command in my career.” Boxscore

Previously: No one hit more triples, as many HRs as Stan Musial

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