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Giants maintain wild-card lead

Posted: Thursday, September 23, 2004


  San Francisco Giants catcher A.J. Pierzynski, left, greets pitcher Noah Lowry after Lowry pitched a complete game against the Houston Astros, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2004, in San Francisco. The Giants won 5-1 and Lowry won his sixth straight decision. AP Photo/Eric Risberg

San Francisco Giants catcher A.J. Pierzynski, left, greets pitcher Noah Lowry after Lowry pitched a complete game against the Houston Astros, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2004, in San Francisco. The Giants won 5-1 and Lowry won his sixth straight decision.

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

SAN FRANCISCO -- Rookie Noah Lowry won his sixth straight decision and remained unbeaten in 13 major league starts, and Ray Durham hit a two-run double to lead the San Francisco Giants to a 5-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.

Lowry limited Astros to five hits in his second complete game, helping the Giants win for the ninth time in 10 games to remain a half-game ahead of Chicago in the NL wild-card race. Houston dropped three games back.

San Francisco moved a half-game back of the Dodgers in the NL West.

Barry Bonds hit an RBI triple off the fence in right-center in the first, and the slugger didn't get any chances after that. He was intentionally walked four times -- the fourth time he's been issued four free passes in a game this season, which equals his major league record.

Roy Oswalt (18-10) failed to become the first NL pitcher with 19 wins this year.

Padres 4, Dodgers 0

SAN DIEGO -- Jake Peavy pitched eight shutout innings, and Phil Nevin hit a two-run homer to lead San Diego past Los Angeles.

Los Angeles, which has lost five of seven, saw its lead drop to its smallest margin since it led the Giants by a half-game on July 15.

Peavy (13-6) allowed a leadoff single to Adrian Beltre in the second, then retired 12 of 13. Peavy struck out eight of 10 during one stretch and matched his career high with 11 strikeouts.

Akinori Otsuka pitched a perfect ninth to complete the combined three-hitter.

Cubs 1, Pirates 0

PITTSBURGH -- Carlos Zambrano pitched 7 1-3 shutout innings to outduel Oliver Perez and beat Pittsburgh for the fifth straight time this season.

Sammy Sosa preserved the Cubs' sixth shutout with a sprawling, belly-flop catch of Ty Wigginton's bases-loaded, two-out line drive to right field in the eighth.

Zambrano is the first to beat the Pirates five times in a season since the Mets' Tom Seaver went 5-1 in 1973.

The Cubs are 5-0 against the Pirates over the last 10 days amid a stretch of 11 victories in 14 games.

Phillies 12, Marlins 4

MIAMI -- Pat Burrell hit a three-run homer, and Eric Milton won for the first time in more than a month, leading Philadelphia over Florida.

Mike Lieberthal, Jason Michaels and Placido Polanco each added two-run homers in the Phillies' second win in two nights at Florida after having lost 14 straight at Pro Player Stadium.

Milton (14-4) gave up one run and three hits, and struck out four in 6 1-3 innings in his first win since Aug. 21 at Milwaukee -- a span of six starts. He retired 10 in a row before Mike Lowell homered to lead off the seventh.

Reds 11, Braves 8

ATLANTA -- Javier Valentin hit a three-run homer to cap Cincinnati's five-run comeback in the ninth inning off closer John Smoltz, leading the Reds past Atlanta.

Chipper Jones' three-run homer in the seventh gave the Braves an 8-6 lead, but Smoltz (0-1) gave up four hits and five runs, walking a batter and throwing two wild pitches while recording only one out. It was the fifth blown save in 45 chances for Smoltz.

Phil Norton (2-5) recorded one out in the eighth to earn the win for the Reds, who had a season-high 17 hits against eight Braves pitchers. Rookie Joe Valentine earned his second save despite walking two batters in the ninth.

Cardinals 3, Brewers 2

MILWAUKEE -- Larry Walker hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning, lifting St. Louis over Milwaukee.

The Cardinals, the NL Central champions, improved to 32-13 in their last 45 games.

Brady Clark had four hits and drove in both runs for Milwaukee, which has lost eight of nine.

Ben Sheets set a franchise record for strikeouts in a season when he fanned Albert Pujols in the fourth inning to pass Teddy Higuera, who struck out 240 in 1987. Sheets struck out eight and has 245 this season.

Mets 3, Expos 2

MONTREAL -- Mike Piazza's RBI single in the eighth inning helped New York end a three-game losing skid.

New York moved two games ahead of Montreal for fourth place in the NL East. The Expos have been in last place since April 15.

Only 3,664 were on hand for the game, the second-smallest Olympic Stadium crowd of the season and the Expos' second straight crowd under 4,000.

Rockies 4, Diamondbacks 2

DENVER -- Shawn Estes outpitched Randy Johnson, and Jeromy Burnitz hit his 37th homer to lift Colorado over Arizona.

Estes (15-7) didn't allow a baserunner until walking Robbie Hammock to lead off the third inning, and didn't give up a hit until Alex Cintron beat out an infield single with one out in the fourth.

Estes allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings to set the team record for wins in a season by a left-hander.

Shawn Chacon worked the ninth for his 35th save.

Johnson (14-14) gave up eight hits in seven innings, but still lowered his ERA to 2.69 by allowing just one earned run. It was the seventh time this season Johnson has lost after giving up two earned runs or less.


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