National League Roundup : Williams Lifts Giants Past Ryan, Astros, 8-2

From Times Wire Services

Matt Williams returned to the San Francisco Giants hoping to improve on last season’s offensive performances in the majors, including his less-than-notable achievements against the Houston Astros’ Nolan Ryan.

After a slow start, Williams, who was recalled from Phoenix Friday to fill in for Jose Uribe after the death of Uribe’s wife Wednesday, got on the right track by hitting a Ryan changeup for a grand slam in the Giants’ 8-2 victory over the Houston Astros at San Francisco Saturday.

“I know he’s a great pitcher and has been around for a long time,” Williams said, “but it’s not really more gratifying to get my first grand slam off him than anyone else.”


Last week, the 22-year-old shortstop hit four home runs in a game for Phoenix in a Pacific Coast League game. Last year he got his first taste of the majors, mostly filling in when Uribe was injured, and batted .188. He was 0 for 4 against Ryan and struck out three times against baseball’s all-time strikeout leader.

Mike Aldrete hit a two-run homer off Ryan (5-3) in the fourth inning, and Williams’ homer capped a six-run fifth. Williams, who went 0-3 in his debut Friday, was 0 for 2, striking out both times, before hitting the Ryan changeup.

“I had good stuff but I wasn’t real consistent with it,” Ryan said. “I threw some good pitches and hung some.” Ryan struck out 10 batters for the 177th time in his career. “I made mistakes on both home runs. I gave both guys pitches to hit, and in situations where they were looking to hit the ball out of the park.”

Mike LaCoss (4-4) left in the sixth after allowing Alan Ashby’s two-out, two-run single, the Astros’ fifth hit. LaCoss walked three and struck out three. Joe Price allowed two hits over 3 innings to record his third save.

Aldrete’s homer--his first--with Candy Maldonado on base broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning.

LaCoss opened the fifth with a single, and Brett Butler followed with his third hit of the game, beating out a bunt. Robby Thompson’s sacrifice moved the runners up, and Jeffrey Leonard gave the Giants a 3-0 lead with an RBI single.

After walking Aldrete intentionally to load the bases, Ryan forced in a run by walking Chris Speier and then Williams cleared the bases.

New York 6, Chicago 5--One reason the Mets are atop the National League East is their ability to win close games, particularly in extra innings.

Thursday night it was Howard Johnson, who beat the Cubs with his lead-off home run in the 13th inning. On Saturday at New York, the Mets found themselves in a similar situation. This time it was Kevin McReynolds who smacked his sixth homer leading off the 13th inning to give the Mets their fifth straight extra-inning triumph.

Montreal 7, Pittsburgh 3--Andres Galarraga hit a two-run home run, and pitcher Dennis Martinez helped his cause with an run-scoring bunt in the Expos’ victory at Pittsburgh.

Martinez (5-6) who gave up 3 runs on 6 hits and 4 walks over 6 innings, collected his RBI in a four-run fourth inning that chased starter Doug Drabek (5-4). Bob McClure pitched the final 1 innings to earn his first save.

Galarraga’s home run, his 14th, gives him the National League lead.

St. Louis 8, Philadelphia 1--Tony Pena homered and Vince Coleman added three hits and scored twice at Philadelphia in helping the Cardinals win their fifth straight.

Pena, Ozzie Smith and Curt Ford knocked in two runs apiece for the Cardinals, who broke open the game with a six-run eighth inning. Cris Carpenter (2-0), a rookie starting his fifth game, gave up seven hits, struck out three and walked one in seven innings.

San Diego 6, Atlanta 5--Tony Gwynn broke a 5-5 tie at San Diego with a fifth-inning home run, and Ed Whitson won in his first relief appearance of the season.

Whitson (4-3), who had started 11 games, pitched 3 scoreless innings, and Lance McCullers went the final two innings for his fourth save.