After a brief slump, the St. Louis Cardinals are riding high again.
Ozzie Smith hit a three-run homer, and Cesar Cedeno and Willie McGee added two-run shots as the Cardinals pounded the Pittsburgh Pirates, 10-4, Tuesday night.
The Cardinals’ sixth straight victory increased their lead over the New York Mets to two games.
“We’re playing championship-caliber baseball,” McGee said. “We’ve been playing consistent baseball all year. If we keep playing like we are, it’s going to be tough on our competition.”
The Cardinals’ Joaquin Andujar (21-9) won for the first time in five starts, scattering 10 hits.
Cedeno hit his eighth home run of the season and his fifth since joining the Cardinals in an Aug. 29 trade from the Cincinnati Reds.
Cedeno was acquired to fill in for Jack Clark, who has been out since Aug. 23 with a pulled rib cage muscle.
“I’m tickled to be here,” Cedeno said. “I can’t wait to come here and put my uniform on. This could be my first World Series. I’ve been waiting 16 years.”
Added McGee: “We needed a long ball threat, and Cedeno’s already had a bunch of big hits.”
The least-likely power threat was Smith, who got his 12th career home run in 4,167 at-bats.
Smith hit his fifth homer of the season, off the left-field foul screen, in the second inning after starter Bob Kipper (0-1) gave up singles to Tito Landrum and Terry Pendleton.
“In a certain situation I look for the ball in a certain zone,” Smith said. “I don’t go up saying I’m going to hit a home run but I’m not going to get cheated on my swing, either.”
McGee’s 10th of the season capped a four-run sixth inning against Larry McWilliams.
The Cardinals’ Vince Coleman stole two bases to increase his season total to 98.
Cardinal second baseman Tommy Herr sprained his left wrist making a tag at second base in the fifth inning and left the game. The Cardinals said the wrist was being iced and it was too early to evaluate the severity of the injury.
R.J. Reynolds had two RBIs and Joe Orsulak had three hits and scored two runs for the Pirates.
Andujar struck out five and didn’t walk a batter as he pitched his 10th complete game.
Philadelphia 5, New York 1--Shane Rawley pitched a five-hitter, and Glenn Wilson went 3 for 4 and scored twice at New York as the Phillies dropped the Mets another notch behind the Cardinals.
Rawley (12-7) struck out three and walked one. He is 6-1 since the All-Star break.
Ozzie Virgil hit a two-run homer off Ed Lynch (10-8) in the second, and the Phillies made it 5-0 in the fourth on a fielder’s choice grounder by Virgil and run-scoring singles by Rawley and Jeff Stone.
The Mets scored in the fourth on George Foster’s run-scoring double.
Cincinnati 6, San Francisco 1--Andy McGaffigan pitched a seven-hitter and struck out 10 as the Reds won their third straight, beating the Giants at Cincinnati.
McGaffigan (2-3) walked none in his second complete game. Dave LaPoint (7-14) took the loss.
The Reds jumped on LaPoint for four first-inning runs on RBI singles by Tony Perez, Buddy Bell and Dave Concepcion and a sacrifice fly by Bo Diaz.
The Reds extended their lead to 6-0 in the fifth. Esasky hit his 17th homer to make it 5-0 before Perez doubled and scored on Diaz’s two-out single.
Houston 10, Atlanta 6--Glenn Davis drove in three runs, and the Astros scored three times to beat the Braves at Atlanta.
It was the seventh straight victory for the Astros, who have won 18 of their last 21.
Davis doubled home a run in a three-run third inning, hit a solo homer in the fifth and was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in Houston’s three-run sixth.
Frank DiPino (3-6), who relieved Charlie Kerfeld in the fourth, got the victory. Zane Smith (7-10) took the loss.
Claudell Washington and Gerald Perry hit two-run homers for the Braves.
Chicago 3, Montreal 0--Jody Davis hit a three-run homer, and Dennis Eckersley and Lee Smith combined on a four-hitter as the Cubs turned back the Expos at Montreal.
The game was scoreless until the sixth inning when Keith Moreland hit a one-out single off Floyd Youmans (3-3). Leon Durham walked and, one out later, Davis followed with his 14th homer.
Eckersley (9-6) had a no-hitter until Razor Shines singled with one out in the sixth. Eckersley, who missed nine starts with a shoulder problem, worked seven innings before Smith came on to record his 29th save.
N.L EAST RACE AT A GLANCE
W L Pct. GB St. Louis 89 55 .618 -- New York 87 57 .604 2
ST. LOUIS (18)--Home (13): Sept. 20, 21, 22, Montreal; 23, 24, Pittsburgh; 25, 26, Philadelphia; Oct. 1, 2, 3, New York, 4, 5, 6, Chicago. Away (5): Sept. 18, 19, Philadelphia; 27, 28, 29, Montreal.
NEW YORK (18)--Home (8): Sept. 18, 19, Chicago; 20, 21, 22, Pittsburgh; Oct. 4, 5, 6, Montreal. Away (10): Sept. 23, 24, Philadelphia; 25, 26, Chicago; 27, 28, 29, Pittsbutgh; Oct. 1, 2, 3, St. Louis.