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Griffey's two-run shot puts him at 493

MONTREAL (AP) -- Ken Griffey Jr. pulled even with Hall of Famer
Lou Gehrig on the career home run list, the last man between him
and the 500 homer club.

Griffey hit his 493rd homer and Sean Casey went 4-for-5 with
three RBI as the Cincinnati Reds held on for a 7-6 win over the
Montreal Expos on Friday night.

Griffey hit a two-run shot off Claudio Vargas (4-2) following
Casey's RBI double in the fifth to tie Gehrig for 20th on the
career list.

"It's just one of those things that I'll take one day at a time
and see what happens -- I'm still a few away" Griffey said. "My
main objective is to win ballgames and see what happens from
there."

The homer capped Cincinnati's second three-run outburst and
increased its lead to 6-2.

Three of Casey's hits were for extra bases, including a double
in the first and a two-run homer in the third, his seventh of the
season. He singled off Jeremy Fikac in the sixth.

"It's just a matter of having quality at-bats," said Casey,
who raised his NL-leading average to .390. "I've swung the bat
like this before so I have had some stretches where I've done this,
so for me it's really not looking at the numbers so much but just
trying to lock in on every at-bat, every pitch and having good
at-bats."

Cory Lidle (4-4) allowed five hits and five runs in 6 2-3
innings. He pitched his NL-leading third complete game in his last
outing, a six-hitter for his third career shutout in a 7-0 win over
Houston on Sunday.

Jose Vidro had an RBI grounder and Tony Batista homered in the
first for Montreal, which saw its NL-worst record drop to 15-32.

Lidle also allowed a solo homer to Brad Wilkerson, whose leadoff
shot in the sixth cut the lead to 6-3.

The Reds starter contributed an RBI single in the seventh off
Luis Ayala to make it 7-3.

"Ayala just didn't do the job and at the time in the dugout we
said, 'that's a big run." Expos manager Frank Robinson said.
"And I meant that sincerely, it was a big run because he gave it
up to a non-offensive player and that hurts."

The hit proved to be the difference as the Expos scored three in
the bottom half to close to within one.

Orlando Cabrera and Carl Everett led off the inning with
consecutive doubles to draw the Expos to within 7-4. Everett
advanced to third on Nick Johnson's grounder and scored on Brian
Schneider's sacrifice fly, which brought Montreal to within two.

Pinch hitter Matt Cepicky homered off left-hander Mike Matthews
to make it a one-run game.

"It felt good to see them battle back and get back in the
ballgame, and at least give ourselves an opportunity to win it,"
Robinson said. "But there's still that mystery where we can go
inning after inning after inning of doing nothing. You look at it
as wasted innings, but it certainly was refreshing to see the
ballclub keep fighting and battle back and get themselves back in
the ballgame."

Vargas, who left after Griffey's homer, allowed nine hits and
four runs in four-plus innings. He struck out six and walked one.

"I didn't feel 100 percent today," Vargas said. "I felt a
little bit down today. I didn't feel strong but I missed a lot of
pitches in the middle of the plate and they hit a couple of good
pitches, too. They've got a lot of good hitters."

Game notes
Griffey is fourth among active players behind Barry Bonds,
Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro. ... Casey struck out against Chad
Cordero in his final at-bat in the eighth. He had a career high
five hits on June 6, 1999 at Kansas City. ... Johnson was activated
from the 15-day disabled list earlier in the day. He grounded to
third with runners at first and second to end the eighth, finishing
0-for-4 in his Montreal debut. "When you don't win the ballgame,
it's frustrating," Johnson said. "I had a couple of opportunities
but I just didn't get it done tonight."