Chicago Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux, right, kicks at the dirt on the pitchers mound as Cincinnati Reds' Darren Bragg, left, rounds the bases on a two run homer during the third inning Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2004 in Chicago.
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
HOUSTON Jeff Bagwell drove in two runs and Brandon Backe pitched five solid innings to help the Houston Astros gain ground in the NL wild-card race with a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.
The Astros moved within a half-game of the Chicago Cubs (88-69) and San Francisco Giants (88-69), who tied Chicago for the wild-card lead with a 7-5 victory over San Diego. The Cubs lost to Cincinnati 8-3 at Wrigley Field.
St. Louis third baseman Scott Rolen went 0-for-3 in his return after missing 16 games with a strained upper left calf and bruised left shin.
Houston (88-70) has won five of its last six and tied a franchise record with its 14th straight home win, equaling a mark set in 1980.
Giants 7, Padres 5
SAN DIEGO Edgardo Alfonzo's two-run double capped a six-run rally in the fourth inning, and San Francisco tied Chicago for the wild-card lead.
The Giants remained three games behind the NL West leading Dodgers, who beat the Rockies 5-4. The Cubs lost 8-3 at Cincinnati.
The loss pushed the Padres closer to elimination. They remain three games out in the wild-card race with five to play and dropped six games behind Los Angeles in the West.
San Francisco had 17 hits, nine off Padres starter Brian Lawrence (15-14). Ray Durham had a career-high five hits, Marquis Grissom had three and Barry Bonds went 0-for-3 with two intentional walks.
Jason Schmidt (17-7) won for just the second time in eight starts, allowing four runs and seven hits in six innings. Schmidt beat the Padres for just the second time in five starts this season.
Dodgers 5, Rockies 4
LOS ANGELES Steve Finley's two-run single capped a five-run rally in the ninth inning that gave Los Angeles a wild 5-4 victory over Colorado.
The Dodgers lowered their magic number for winning the NL West championship to three. They lead San Francisco by three games with five remaining.
With the Rockies leading 4-0, Shawn Chacon struck out Olmedo Saenz to start the ninth, but walked Alex Cora, pinch-hitters Robin Ventura and Jose Hernandez, and Cesar Izturis to force in a run.
Tim Harikkala (6-6) relieved and gave up a two-run double to Jayson Werth and Finley's single, a grounder between first and second.
Milton Bradley was thrown out of the game after a fan threw a plastic bottle at him following his two-out error and subsequent RBI single by Brad Hawpe that capped a three-run, eighth-inning rally by the Rockies.
Elmer Dessens (2-6), who retired the Rockies in order in the top of the ninth, was the winner.
Reds 8, Cubs 3
CHICAGO Adam Dunn reached 100 RBIs for the first time with his 44th home run to help hand Chicago a costly loss in the wild-card race.
Chicago fell into a first-place tie with San Francisco and its lead over Houston dropped to a half-game.
D'Angelo Jimenez and Darren Bragg also connected off Greg Maddux (15-11), who lost his second straight start to the Reds.
Josh Hancock (5-2) gave up two earned runs and seven hits over eight innings, striking out three and walking two.
Corey Patterson drove in a pair of runs with a triple, but the Cubs managed only six other hits.
Marlins 5, Expos 2
MONTREAL Jeff Conine homered and Mike Lowell drove in two runs to lead the Florida over Montreal in what might prove to be the Expos' second-to-last game at Olympic Stadium.
A crowd of 5,416 was on hand, likely the last tiny baseball crowd at the stadium. The Expos are expected to be relocated for 2005 and about 20,000 to 25,000 fans are expected to attend the team's final home game of the season and probably ever in Montreal on Wednesday.
Ismael Valdez (14-8) held the Expos to one hit Juan Rivera's double in the second through five scoreless innings before leaving after allowing Rivera's two-run homer with two outs in the sixth.
Armando Benitez set a Marlins' record with his 46th save in 50 opportunities.
Tomo Ohka (3-7) allowed five hits and three runs in five innings in his second start since returning from breaking a bone in his right arm earlier this season.
Mets 2, Braves 1, 1st game
Braves 5, Mets 2, 2nd game
ATLANTA Johnny Estrada's tiebreaking sixth-inning single sent Atlanta over New York for a split of a doubleheader with the Mets.
The Mets won the opener on a pair of solo home runs by Gerald Williams and Eric Valent.
The nightcap was tied at 2 when Nick Green opened the sixth with a single off Tom Glavine (10-14). Green moved to second on Eli Marrero's sacrifice and Chipper Jones was walked intentionally before Estrada broke the tie with a single to center.
Glavine gave up five runs on seven hits in six innings. The victory went to Roman Colon (2-1).
John Smoltz pitched the ninth for his 42nd save in 47 chances.
Wilson Delgado, who had a career-high four hits, knocked Atlanta's Jaret Wright out of the game in the third inning with a line drive off the pitcher's right ankle. X-rays were negative and the Braves listed the pitcher as day-to-day with a bruise.
Steve Trachsel (12-13) held the Braves to one run on three hits in six innings in the opener.
Ricky Bottalico got two outs in the seventh before yielding a walk and giving way to Mike Stanton, who retired the only four Braves he faced. Braden Looper pitched the ninth for his 29th save in 34 chances.
Diamondbacks 9, Brewers 8
PHOENIX Alan Zinter hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the 11th to give Arizona the victory.
Zinter, just 6-for-32 on the season, followed Alex Cintron's single with a 391-foot drive into the right-field grandstand. Zinter had entered at first base in the top of the inning.
Brooks Kieschnick (1-1) blew Milwaukee's second save of the game after Lyle Overbay put the Brewers ahead in the top of the 11th with an RBI single.
Mike Koplove (4-4) allowed Keith Ginter's triple and Overbay's hit, but still got the win thanks to Zinter's homer.
Geoff Jenkins hit a two-run homer for Milwaukee in a ninth inning that featured blown saves by closers Greg Aquino of the Diamondbacks and Dan Kolb of the Brewers.
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