Braves pound Hamilton, Reds in Griffey's returnPosted: Friday May 24, 2002 10:33 PM
Updated: Saturday May 25, 2002 1:35 AM
ATLANTA (AP) -- Back in Cincinnati's lineup for the first time in seven weeks, Ken Griffey Jr. was so uncomfortable in the early going he felt like "a deer in headlights."
The rest of the Reds must not have felt much better.
Vinny Castilla had a three-run double in Atlanta's seven-run third inning, helping the Braves ruin Griffey's return with an 11-2 victory over Cincinnati on Friday night.
Griffey went 1-for-4 in his return after missing seven weeks with a torn tendon in his right knee. He singled sharply in the first inning off Kevin Millwood (3-5) in his first action since April 7. The Reds went 25-16 in his absence and lead the NL Central.
"The first couple of innings I was like a deer in headlights," Griffey said. "As the game went on, I felt more and more comfortable being in the outfield. I think that's going to be the adjustment playing. It's going to be playing the outfield."
Millwood won for the first time in seven starts, and his first since April 8. He allowed two runs on eight hits in six innings. The Braves had scored an average of 2.9 runs in Millwood's previous nine starts but tied a season high with 11 runs to win for the sixth time in eight games.
"I felt pretty confident," Milwood said. "It was a different feeling than I've had in a while. I don't know why. I don't think it was a great outing, but it's a step in the right direction."
Joey Hamilton (2-2), making his first start since May 6 against Milwaukee, gave up a career-high nine runs -- seven earned -- and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings.
"It disappoints me but it doesn't surprise me," Cincinnati manager Bob Boone said. "His command wasn't there early. That's why he threw as many pitches as he did."
Each Atlanta starter except Millwood had at least one hit, with seven of the hits going to the opposite field.
"I hope it continues," hitting coach Terry Pendleton said. "If we do that, that's the way we can win ballgames. The home runs will come."
The Braves blew the game open in the third, with seven of the first eight batters scoring. Castilla's double over the bag at third was the biggest blow, allowing Darren Bragg, Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones to score.
An error by Cincinnati second baseman Todd Walker allowed another run to score, and the final run of the inning scored on a passed ball.
"We were due for a bust-out game somehow," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said.
Bragg started in right field in place of Gary Sheffield, who's day-to-day with a strained hamstring. Bragg was just 1-for-15 this season entering the game but had two hits and a walk. He scored two runs.
Griffey won't play Saturday, part of his every-other-day regiment for his first week back.
"I feel fine," Griffey said. "I'll just come back tomorrow and work out and see how I feel. The biggest thing is not how I feel now, but how I feel tomorrow."
Notes: Hamilton was on the disabled list with a partially torn hamstring. ... The seven runs the Braves scored in the third inning tied a season best. They also scored seven in the sixth inning April 4 against Philadelphia. It was the most runs the Reds have given up in an inning this season.