It took eight hours and two days, but the weary Houston Astros moved two victories closer to the Western Division title.
Billy Hatcher hit a home run in the 18th inning Wednesday at Chicago to give Houston an 8-7 victory in a suspended game, then Mike Scott (15-9) struck out 12 Cubs in seven innings of the regular game as the Astros breezed, 8-2.
All that overtime didn’t bother the Astros even a little bit. With Cincinnati losing to Pittsburgh, they increased their lead in the division to eight games with 29 remaining. It is the biggest lead they have enjoyed all season.
Tuesday’s game was halted because of darkness after 14 innings and more than four hours, tied, 4-4. It took another hour to complete Wednesday, partly because each team scored three runs in the 17th.
A record 53 players were used, 27 by the Cubs. The old record of 51 was set by clubs in both leagues. It could only happen at this time of year after teams are allowed to expand their rosters. A record 17 pitchers were used. Danny Darwin (2-1) the ninth Astro pitcher was the winner.
The Astros, who lost a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the ninth Tuesday, scored three times in the 17th and thought it was over. But Chicago’s Keith Moreland hit a three-run homer, and it took the home run by Hatcher, a former Cub, to decide it. Hatcher’s homer, his fourth, made a loser of Greg Maddux in his first major league appearance.
Scott, who extended his league-leading strikeout total to 253, had four of them in one inning. Aurelio Lopez pitched the last two innings and struck out three more.
Denny Walling had three hits, including a two-run homer in the first, and Dickie Thon hit a three-run pinch homer in the seventh to give Scott all the support he needed.
“It’s good to come here and sweep,” Scott said, “but believe me, we’re taking it one game at a time. The Cubs kept coming back in that opener. We know it will be tough all the way.”
All Cub Manager Gene Michael could say after the teams engaged in the longest game of the season, was, “We may not be as good, but we didn’t quit. We kept coming back.”
Pittsburgh 5, Cincinnati 3--Chris Welsh did his part, holding the Pirates to a run and four hits in seven innnings at Cincinnati, but the bullpen couldn’t preserve a 3-1 lead.
Jim Morrison hit a two-run home run off Ron Robinson in the eighth to tie it. With John Franco on the mound in the 10th, former Dodger Sid Bream drilled a two-out double to score two runs and hand the Reds their third loss in the last 11 games.
Welsh not only pitched well, he doubled in the third inning and scored on Dave Parker’s single to give the Reds their 3-1 lead.
New York 4, San Francisco 2--He doesn’t receive anything like the publicity that teammates Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling and Sid Fernandez get, but quietly, Bob Ojeda has become the ace of the Mets’ pitching staff.
Ojeda, acquired from the Boston Red Sox during the offseason, pitched a three-hitter at New York to improve his record to 16-4. The left-hander is 10-2 in his last 17 starts.
Ray Knight led the attack on rookie Terry Mulholland (0-6) with two hits and an RBI.
St. Louis 5, Atlanta 3--As a rookie, Cardinal Todd Worrell is well on his way to leading the league in saves. He wasn’t too proud of his 31st in this game at Atlanta.
He pitched 2 innings, allowing two hits, one of them a home run by Ken Griffey.
“It’s a little easier when you know you can make a mistake and still not get hurt,” said Worrell, Manager Whitey Herzog’s candidate for Rookie of the Year. “I threw Griffey two good pitches, then a dumb one.”
Terry Pendleton had four hits for the Cardinals.
San Diego 7, Philadelphia 5--The Padres, apparently beaten, 5-1, scored six unearned runs in the ninth inning at Philadelphia to score a surprising victory.
Terry Kennedy’s three-run double was the big hit in the rally, but an error by second baseman Juan Samuel with two on and two out took a victory away from Mike Maddux.