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National League Roundup : Cubs Rally to Tag Mets With Sixth Loss in Row

This spring, Manager Davey Johnson went so far as to say that his New York Mets would win the pennant even if he made a number of mistakes.

But instead of running away with the Eastern Division title, the Mets are struggling to stay in the race.

They sank to a new low Sunday at Chicago. After fighting back to tie in the seventh inning, the Mets lost their sixth game in a row when bullpen ace Randy Myers served up a home run ball to Mark Grace with one on and two out in the ninth inning.

The 6-4 victory, which gave the Cubs a sweep of the three-game series and their seventh win in the last eight games, put them only 1 1/2 games behind division-leading Montreal. The Mets are fourth, six games behind.

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With one out and Rick Aguilera (6-6) pitching, Jerome Walton beat out a bunt and went to second on a wild pitch. Ryne Sandberg struck out, and left-hander Myers, once called by Johnson the best reliever in the league, came in to face the left-handed Grace. Grace hit Myers’ second pitch into the right-field bleachers for his sixth homer.

Johnson blames the latest slump on the pitchers.

“Our pitchers are not pitching the way they are capable,” he said. “That’s been our strongest suit since 1985, but we haven’t done it this year.”

Grace, who said he never hit a game-winning home run before, even in Little League, helped pitcher Les Lancaster improve his record to 3-0. In 15 games covering 23 2/3 innings, Lancaster has not given up a run.

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Houston 6, San Francisco 2--The race in the West tightened, too. Mike Scott, pitching a strong seven innings on three days of rest, became the majors’ first 17-game winner in this game at Houston.

The Astros, breaking open the game with a four-run seventh, took two of three from the division-leading Giants and moved to within one game of first place.

Scott (17-5) gave up seven hits and struck out nine. Danny Darwin pitched the last two innings and struck out five more.

In the seventh, Craig Biggio singled in two runs to break a 2-2 tie, and Rafael Ramirez followed with his third double of the game, scoring another run. Houston’s fourth run scored on pinch-hitter Billy Hatcher’s sacrifice fly.

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Scott, who struck out the side in the first and seventh innings, thought the key to the game was the first inning.

“They got the first two men on base,” he said, “and I knew I had to bear down.”

St. Louis 8, Montreal 3--The Cardinals are staying in the race in the East because they can handle the Expos. Joe Magrane (12-7) held the Expos hitless into the sixth inning at Montreal, and the Cardinals breezed to their 10th victory in 14 games against the leaders of the East.

Once again the inability to close the retractable roof at Olympic Stadium when it rains caused a delay of almost an hour in the third inning.

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In the fifth, Jose Oquendo doubled home two runs and scored on Pedro Guerrero’s single to provide Magrane with a 4-0 lead. Rex Hudler’s double with one out in the sixth spoiled the no-hit bid.

“It defies belief that you can have a delay like that in a covered stadium,” said Magrane, who gave up eight hits in 8 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking one. “It’s tough to try to pitch again after an hour.”

Atlanta 5, Cincinnati 2--It’s becoming forever on Sunday for Darrell Evans. The 42-year-old part-time first baseman hit another home run at Atlanta to help the Braves win again.

Evans has seven home runs this season, four of them coming on Sundays. He has 410 homers in his career.

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Oddibe McDowell had three singles, scoring two runs and driving in another as the Braves ended Cincinnati’s three-game winning streak.

Philadelphia 8, Pittsburgh 6--Von Hayes, at 30 one of the oldest players in the Phillies’ lineup, is impressed by the play of the younger players.

“I like the way we hang in there,” said Hayes, who drove in three runs and scored two as the Phillies rallied from a 5-0 deficit at home.

One of the impressive youngsters is Charlie Hayes, who homered in his third consecutive game.

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Dennis Cook (5-3) got the victory despite giving up five runs and five hits in six innings. Roger McDowell earned his 13th save.


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