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Griffey Belts 2, Tames Tigers


Ken Griffey Jr. has finally figured out how to hit home runs at Safeco Field.

Griffey hit two home runs to become the seventh player in major league history with 40 homers in four straight seasons as the Seattle Mariners beat the Detroit Tigers 5-0 Tuesday night.

It was the first two home-run game by a Mariners player in the team's new home stadium.

"It doesn't take long for Junior," manager Lou Piniella said. "Junior stroked both those balls very nicely. They carried right out of the ballpark."

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  • Griffey declined to talk to reporters.

    Teammate Brian Hunter said it was just a matter of time before Griffey heated up at Safeco.

    "I think he's figured out every field," Hunter said. "Safeco Field just happens to be another one. He did a great job. He's such an incredible player. He can hit to left field, center field, right field with authority."

    Griffey's AL-leading 40th and 41st homers, both two-run, opposite-field shots, helped Freddy Garcia get his 13th victory, most among rookies in the majors.

    Garcia (13-7) pitched a six-hitter, while striking out a career-high 12. He walked one and hit a batter on the way to his first career shutout.

    "Freddy was dominating tonight," catcher Dan Wilson said. "That's the best I've seen his stuff all year. It seemed like every pitch his concentration was so good."

    The Tigers loaded the bases on two hits and a walk in the sixth before Garcia struck out Damion Easley to end the threat. Garcia is 3-0 against Detroit this season.

    Griffey joined Babe Ruth, Ralph Kiner, Duke Snider, Ernie Banks, Harmon Killebrew and Mark McGwire as the only players to hit 40 or moe homers in four consecutive seasons. Griffey hit 49, 56 and 56 in his previous three seasons.

    Griffey homered in his third straight game at Safeco, giving him eight in 26 games there.

    The Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the first on Alex Rodriguez's RBI single off Willie Blair (1-10). In the third, Griffey hit his first homer, a 348-foot fly that hit the top of the left-field fence and bounced into the Tigers' bullpen.

    Griffey's second homer also came off Blair, a 381-foot line drive into the Mariners' bullpen.

    "The second one was a no doubter," Tigers manager Larry Parrish said. "The field didn't play that large tonight, but it is Griffey you are talking about hitting them."

    Blair, making his second start since May 26, lost his sixth straight decision. He allowed five runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings.

    Notes

  • The Tigers activated OF Bobby Higginson from the DL and used him as their DH. Higginson, sidelined since July 24 with an injured big toe on his right foot, went 0-for-4. They placed OF Gregg Jefferies on the 15-day DL with a strained right hamstring.
  • The Mariners have hit 27 of their major league-leading 197 homers at Safeco and Rodriguez (10) and Griffey have 18 of them.
  • Griffey increased his career home run total to 391 to move into 33rd place on the career list past Graig Nettles (390).
  • Garcia combined with Steve Sinclair and Jose Paniagua for a 4-0 shutout against Tampa Bay on Aug. 2. He went 7 2-3 innings in that game.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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