Manager Buck Rodgers is enjoying the last laugh. His Montreal Expos have taken over first place in the National League East.
Zane Smith pitched a strong seven innings Saturday night at Montreal and the Expos beat Pittsburgh, 6-1, to take a half-game lead over the Pirates.
Smith, winning for only the second time in his last 10 starts, gave up six hits before Drew Hall took over for two scoreless innings.
Shortstop Spike Owen, one of the reasons the Expos are contenders, made an errant throw that ended his errorless streak at 63 games.
The Expos were picked by many to finish last in the East. Early in the season, Rodgers was booed every time he made an appearance. No more.
"I realize that the Mets are hot," Rodgers said, "but I'm proud of the way these guys have played. We won't quit either."
New York 3, Philadelphia 0--Dwight Gooden pitched a two-hitter and Darryl Strawberry hit a two-run home run, a 430-foot blast at New York. It was the first shutout for Gooden (6-5) in two years and put the Mets just 2 1/2 games out of first place.
It was the fifth victory in a row for the Mets and their 12th in the last 14 games.
The surge coincides with Strawberry's home run binge. While hitting safely in 12 games in a row, Strawberry has hit seven home runs, driven in 19 runs and is hitting .432. He now has 15 home runs.
The two losses to the Mets has dropped the Phillies 4 1/2 games out of first.
St. Louis 8, Chicago 7--It was the sixth anniversary of Ryne Sandberg's biggest game at the plate.
On June 23, 1984, Sandberg was five for six, hit two home runs, drove in seven runs and the Cubs beat the Cardinals in 10 innings, 12-11.
In this game Sandberg was four for five, including his 20th home run and two doubles.
This time, the Cubs lost because former Cub Lee Smith, making his first appearance in nine days, pitched two scoreless innings for his seventh save for the Cardinals.
"I remember Ryne's big day," Smith said. "I went from a save to becoming the loser, to becoming the winner when he hit the two-run homer in the 10th."
The Cardinals, with Terry Pendleton driving in four runs and Jose Oquendo three, built an 8-2 lead for Bob Tewksbury (2-0) and lost almost all of it.
Houston 4, San Francisco 2--The Astros were only too glad for any kind of help.
So, when left fielder Kevin Mitchell made a two-base error on Glenn Wilson's single in the eighth inning at Houston to let in two runs, it was well received.
The Astros, who trailed, 2-0, going into the eighth, ended a seven-game losing streak. It was the Giants' fourth loss in 21 games this month.
Another Giant pitcher was injured, adding to San Francisco's afflicted staff. Trevor Wilson sprained his ankle while fielding a bunt by Mark Portugal (2-7) in the third inning. Wilson, who extended his scoreless streak to 19 1/3 innings, was unable to continue.
San Diego 7, Atlanta 5--Jack Clark broke an 0-for-27 slump and drove in three runs at Atlanta with a home run and a single. He spoiled the return of General Manager Bobby Cox as interim manager.
Ed Whitson (6-5) made it through six innings, giving up nine hits and three runs.
Clark was batting .194 before hitting his seventh home run in the fourth inning.
Mike Pagliarulo also homered for the Padres.