Could Ken Griffey Jr. be climbing back into the
Roger Maris home-run chase?
Griffey drove in five runs with his 34th career multihomer game and a sacrifice fly to the warning track. Silent for the first half of August, he may be making a late bid to rejoin the home-run race led by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa with 54 each.
"He hits them in bunches. Let's hope he stays hot," Mariners manager Lou Piniella said.
"He's got 47. We've got a month to go. Let's see what happens," he said. "I'd like to see it happen for a few people. Records are made to be broken. This is getting exciting."
Griffey did not comment on the pursuit of Maris' mark of 61 set in 1961.
"I have nothing to say," he said.
Last year, Griffey hit 12 home runs from Sept. 1 until the end of the season. His homer high for a month was 15 in May 1994.
A day after the Yankees became the first team in major-league history to linch a postseason spot in August during a full season, they looked nothing like a playoff club. A crowd of 55,341 watched New York fall behind 10-0 in the fifth inning and saw its four-game winning streak stopped.
Most fans booed Griffey, but one man ran out to center field in the fifth to have the Seattle star autograph a football. Griffey obliged, but security personnel tackled the fan and later took away the souvenir.
"It was an NFL ball and I signed it," Griffey said.
Griffey hit a three-run homer in the second and lined a leadoff shot in the eighth for his fifth multihomer game this season.
Later in the eighth, Yankees reliever Mike Buddie was ejected after hitting Rob Ducey with a pitch, causing the benches and bullpens to empty. There were no punches and no other ejections.
A half-inning earlier, Yankees third baseman Scott Brosius left the game after being hit in the back by a pitch from Jose Paniagua.
"Anytime you get two guys hit, it's serious," Brosius said.
In the third, Chad Curtis touched off a brief scuffle when he failed to slide as the Mariners turned an inning-ending double play. Curtis veered off as he approached second base and shortstop Alex Rodriguez took exception -- players from both sides milled around, but there was no trouble.
Curtis provided the Yankees' play-of-the-day, climbing the left-field wall and hanging on top of the fence to nearly rob Russ Davis of a home run in the fifth. Despite the great effort, the ball popped out of Curtis' glove as he reached above the fence and fell back into play for a double.
Darryl Strawberry led off the ninth with his 24th homer for the Yankees.
Bill Swift (11-8) gave up only two hits until Jorge Posada homered in the fifth.
Hideki Irabu (11-7) was hit hard, allowing eight runs -- his career high as a starter -- in only 3 1/3 innings. In his last three starts, he has given up 19 earned runs and 21 hits in just 11 2/3 innings.
Irabu's shaky outings may be jeopardizing his chance to be part of the Yankees' postseason rotation.
"I'm thinking about it, too," Irabu said through an interpreter. "Today when I got hit and really got hit, and when I made good pitches today, I got hit."
Rodriguez hit an RBI double that keyed a four-run first inning and Griffey's homer made it 7-0 in the second. Griffey added a sacrifice fly in the fourth, finishing Irabu.
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