Braves take over first in NL East

Posted: Tuesday, July 20, 2004

ATLANTA Mike Hampton (5-8) pitched seven strong innings after another rough start, John Smoltz did the rest and the Braves held off the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 on Monday night to take over sole possession of first place in the NL East for the first time this season.

Adam LaRoche, Andruw Jones, Charles Thomas and Chipper Jones drove in runs for the Braves, who have won 16 of 20 to surge to the top of a weak division.

Phillies starter Paul Abbott dropped to 0-4 since joining Philadelphia. He started the season with Tampa Bay, going 2-5 before getting his release on June 3. He allowed eight hits and four runs in 4 2-3 innings.

John Smoltz pitched two innings for his 18th save in 20 chances.

Expos 6, Pirates 2

PITTSBURGH Terrmel Sledge drove in two runs with a groundball just past first base during a four-run seventh inning and Montreal halted Pittsburgh's 10-game home winning streak, the Pirates' longest since winning 24 straight in 1978.

Rocky Biddle left after five innings with the score tied at 2. Joe Horgan (3-0) retired the only batter he faced for the victory.

Sledge's grounder off John Grabow (0-4) to Randall Simon appeared as if it would end the inning. But Sledge hustled down the line to beat Simon to the bag for a single. Wilkerson also kept running on the play from second and scored almost before Simon could react and get the ball home. Pinch-hitter Ron Calloway added a two-run single.

Marlins 6, Mets 5

NEW YORK Pinch-hitter Lenny Harris came through with a go-ahead single in the ninth inning, spoiling Scott Erickson's bid for his first major league win in nearly two years.

Miguel Cabrera tied it with an RBI single off closer Braden Looper (2-2), who gave up four straight hits in the ninth.

Shane Spencer hit a three-run homer for the Mets, who built a 5-2 lead for Erickson in his first big league appearance since Aug. 31, 2002, with Baltimore.

But Cabrera hit a two-run single off Orber Moreno in the seventh, and the Marlins jumped on their ex-teammate two innings later.

Josias Manzanillo (2-2) worked a scoreless inning for the win.

Cardinals 5, Cubs 4

CHICAGO Scott Rolen hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning off Carlos Zambrano to lead St. Louis to its 12th win in 14 games.

The Cardinals homered three times to increase their NL Central lead over the Cubs to nine games.

Zambrano (9-5) was ejected in the eighth inning after hitting Jim Edmonds with a pitch right after Rolen's two-run shot the second time Zambrano hit Edmonds. Because the benches had been warned, Cubs manager Dusty Baker was also ejected.

Chris Carpenter (10-4) got his 10th victory and fourth of the season against the Cubs, allowing 12 hits and four runs in eight innings.

Reds 8, Brewers 4

CINCINNATI Wily Mo Pena hit his sixth homer in his last eight games, and also had a run-scoring single and a double.

Right-hander Aaron Harang (6-2) won his second straight start against the Brewers, fighting through control lapses while protecting an early lead.

Dodgers 7, Astros 6

HOUSTON Milton Bradley and Shawn Green hit back-to-back home runs in the eighth inning to lift Los Angeles to its seventh straight win.

Adrian Beltre hit his career-high 24th homer for the Dodgers, who have won 13 of their last 14 games.

Giovanni Carrera (2-0) allowed two runs and two hits in 1 1-3 innings of relief for the victory, and Eric Gagne threw just eight pitches in a perfect ninth for his 26th save in 27 opportunities.

Padres 13, Rockies 6

DENVER Ismael Valdez pitched five-plus innings and hit a two-run double, Mark Loretta had four hits and three RBIs and the San Diego Padres set a season high for runs

Terrence Long homered and had two RBIs, and the Padres matched their season high with 18 hits every starter had one to win for the fourth time in five games since a four-game losing streak.

Giants 6, Diamondbacks 1

PHOENIX Brett Tomko pitched into the eighth inning, and the San Francisco Giants made up for the absence of Barry Bonds with baserunning and timely hitting.

The slugger sat out the game after having a root canal Monday morning, but the Giants won for the sixth time in eight games to stay 2 1/2 games behind NL West leader Los Angeles.

Tomko (5-5) allowed a solo homer in the fourth to Luis Gonzalez, who announced before the game that he will have season-ending elbow surgery next month, but otherwise left the crowd of 31,624 little to cheer.

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