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National League Roundup : Pirates Lean on Rhoden, Win, 7-1

For almost a year, Rick Rhoden has been insisting that the Pittsburgh Pirates trade him, but his pitching this season has made him indispensable.

Rhoden threw a five-hitter, had a lead-off single and scored a run in a seven-run sixth and struck out a career-high 11 batters Friday night at Pittsburgh in a 7-1 win over the Montreal Expos. Rhoden also had a sacrifice bunt and a double for a perfect night at the plate.

The former Dodger right-hander improved his record to 8-4, and for a last-place team that has won only 28 games, that is some feat. This month he is 5-1, with three complete game victories. His only defeat came in a game in which rain forced postponement after only five innings.

He has been brilliant in his last two games, both against the Expos. Rhoden, 33, has struck out 21 Expos and allowed only eight hits and one earned run. His value increasing with each start, Rhoden has stopped insisting that he be traded.

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“I can’t remember two good games like this in a row before,” said Rhoden, a right-hander. “I’ve had two good games, but not two where I’ve had this many strikeouts.

“I’ve had pretty good control (one walk in 18 innings). My fastball has been good--for my fastball--and I’ve been throwing strikes. Throwing strikes, that’s the key.”

Jay Tibbs was nursing a 1-0 lead going into the sixth when Rhoden, a lifetime .234 hitter, singled. Before Dennis Martinez finally got the last out, the Pirates sent 12 batters to the plate. A bases-loaded double by Johnny Ray drove in the first two runs. Sid Bream singled in another and Tibbs (4-4) was gone.

“I think it bothers a pitcher when he gives up a lead-off hit to another pitcher,” Rhoden said. “That’s why I’ve always worked hard on my hitting. For all I know, I could have been a loser without the hit that started our big inning.”

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San Francisco 7, Cincinnati 6--The Giants built a 6-2 lead at Cincinnati but had to pull out the victory with a run in the 12th inning.

The game included a record-breaking performance by rookie Rob Thompson that he probably doesn’t care to brag about. The rookie second baseman became the first player in major league baseball to be caught stealing four times in one game.

The Giants were leading, 6-3, when Dave Parker hit a three-run home run in the seventh to send the game into extra innings.

In the 12th, Chili Davis was walked by Scott Terry (0-2) with one out and went to third on a single by Chris Brown. Mike Aldreted hit a fly to medium left and Davis scored easily.

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Greg Minton, the seventh Giant pitcher, gained the victory. Juan Berenguer continued his sensational relief pitching for the Giants, putting together three hitless innings.

Minton (3-5) pitched two hitless innings and walked three. The victory enabled the Giants to remain in first place in the West.

Atlanta 5, San Diego 4--Ozzie Virgil foiled the Padres’ strategy in the eighth inning at Atlanta with a game-winning sacrifice fly.

With runners on second and third and one out, the Padres gave Rafael Ramirez an intentional walk. They hoped to set up a double play by Virgil, a catcher who does not run well. Virgil lifted the fly into medium center and Dale Murphy raced home with the go-ahead run.

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Murphy hit a three-run home run in the fifth inning to help the Braves build a 4-1 lead. The Padres bounced back to tie with three in the top of the eighth.

The Padres, in losing for the third time in 11 games, were without Manager Steve Boros, who was in Spokane for his daughter’s wedding. Coach Harry Dunlop was in charge of the club.


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