NATIONAL LEAGUE ROUNDUP : Reds Spot Cubs 5 Runs, Come Back to Win, 7-5

Apparently nothing can stop the Cincinnati Reds. They’ve built the best record in the National League even though Eric Davis has been able to play only 11 games.

Friday night at Cincinnati, they had to play without Mariano Duncon, the leading hitter in the majors. Duncan, batting .400, was suspended for one game for putting his hand on umpire Mark Hirschbeck during an arguement Wednesday night in a game at Pittsburgh.

The Reds spotted the Chicago Cubs five runs in the first inning, then battled back for a 7-5 victory that improved their record to 20-6.

Chris Sabo, with the sixth-best average in the league but only the third-best on his own team, hit a bases-loaded double off Mitch Williams in the eighth inning to cap the Reds’ comeback.


“Last year that might have been caught,” Sabo said. “But this is a different year. Everything keeps falling in. I was looking for some hard stuff. I just tried to get the bat on the ball, protect the plate, especially with the count 2-and-2. I just wanted to put it into play.”

A year ago, nearly everything Williams did was right. He was always working out of bases-loaded situations.

“I wasn’t throwing the ball the way I wanted,” Williams said. “I sure wasn’t throwing where I wanted. The pitch to Sabo was right down the middle.”

Red starter Scott Scudder didn’t make it through the first inning. Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson and Shawon Dunston tagged him for home runs.

Greg Maddux went into the eighth with a 5-4 lead. Williams came in with one out and one on. He gave up a single to Ken Griffey, then walked Jeff Reed after getting two strikes on him. Luis Quinones popped out before Sabo lined the ball to the gap between left and center and three runs scored.

Pittsburgh 4, Houston 3--A year ago, Doug Drabek was 1-5 en route to a 14-12 season.

This year, he has a head start on success, having improved to 6-1 with eight shutout innings at Pittsburgh.

He weakened in the ninth inning and the Pirates barely survived a rally. The Astros scored three times and, when reliever Bill Landrum retired Ken Oberkfell on a grounder to end the game, they had the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base.

The Pirates are 20-9. A year ago, they were 12-17 after 29 games.

The only hit Drabek gave up in the first five innings was a line drive in the second by Franklin Stubbs that hit Drabek in the shoulder. Drabek retired the next 10.

Barry Bonds, six for nine this season against Jim Deshaies (1-1), was two for three, scored twice and drove in a run.

Philadelphia 10, San Francisco 6--The way they are tearing up the West, the teams in the Eastern Division might all be over .500 before long.

With Len Dykstra and Von Hayes each driving in three runs at Philadelphia, the Phillies routed the Giants (8-18). Philadelphia is 16-12. Last year at this time, the Phillies were 12-16.

Dykstra went three for four to increase his average to .400, tying Duncan for the best mark in the majors. Dykstra has 19 hits in his last 32 at-bats.

“I’m just getting used to playing every day,” Dykstra said.

Pitcher Ken Howell (3-3) drove in two runs, but tired after being given a 7-0 lead and needed help in the sixth inning.

St. Louis 5, Boston 2--It was a good night for the Smiths in St. Louis.

Bryn Smith (4-3) pitched a strong eight innings. Lee Smith, getting his first save opportunity since being obtained from the Boston Red Sox, pitched a perfect ninth.

And a two-run single by Ozzie Smith highlighted a four-run outburst in the first inning that put the Cardinals in control.

San Diego 5, Montreal 3--Garry Templeton hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning at San Diego to break a 3-3 tie and lift the Padres into second place in the West.

Templeton, whose high homer total in a season is nine, now has hit 60 in more than 7,000 at-bats.