The streaks of the New York Mets and their slugging star, Darryl Strawberry, came to a halt Saturday at New York, which was reason enough for a sigh of relief from the rest of the National League.
Just when the Mets were beginning to look invincible, they blew a 4-3 lead and were beaten by the Cincinnati Reds, 7-4.
The loss, after 11 consecutive victories, knocked the Mets back into second place in the East. Although he walked to open the second inning and scored on Howard Johnson's 12th home run, Strawberry went 0 for 3 to end an 18-game hitting streak.
During the streak, the left-handed hitting right fielder hit nine home runs and drove in 24 runs. He led the team to several victories with key hits during the late innings.
"We knew we were going to lose another game," Strawberry said, "but it still feels strange. We had become accustomed to winning."
What was surprising was the way the Mets lost. During their streak that carried them from fourth place to first, the Mets' bullpen either held the lead or kept the game close until the winning rally.
But when Manager Bud Harrelson decided to replace David Cone after seven innings with a one-run lead, it was too early for his closer, John Franco. And Jeff Musselman failed to give him the one inning he needed.
A walk, a one-out pinch single by the Reds' Luis Quinones and an infield hit by Ron Oester tied the score. Wally Whitehurst replaced Musselman, but pinch-hitter Joe Oliver greeted Whitehurst with a two-run double to make it 6-4.
Eric Davis ended the scoring with his 11th homer in the ninth, and the Reds ended their three-game losing streak, moving 9 1/2 games ahead in the West.
"I'm really proud of these guys," said Manager Lou Piniella, whose team lost the first two games of the series to the Mets. "It was the total team contribution you come to expect from a group that's spent the season in first place."
The Mets scored all their runs off Jack Armstrong in the second inning.
Pittsburgh 4, San Francisco 3--The Pirates' tumble from the top in the East coincided with the slump of hitting star Bobby Bonilla.
So it figured that when Bonilla emerged, the Pirates might too.
When Bonilla ended an 0-for-28 skid with a single in the sixth inning at San Francisco, it set up something bigger.
Bonilla hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning to rally the Pirates and put them back in first in the East.
Rookie John Burkett left after seven innings with a 3-2 lead, but left-hander Mark Thurmond couldn't hold it.
Left-handed batter Andy Van Slyke singled before the switch-hitting Bonilla, batting .200 from the right side, hit his 17th home run.
"The single to end the hitless string felt better than buying my first car," Bonilla said. "Against Thurmond, I was just trying to hit the ball hard."
Manager Jim Leyland had rested Bonilla Friday night.
"He's a premier player, but he's a young player," Leyland said. "It was just a case of him trying to get four hits in one at-bat to get out of the slump."
Houston 8, Philadelphia 3--A couple of unusual home runs helped the Astros end a 13-game road losing streak.
Rich Gedman hit a two-run home run, his first home run in the National League and Franklin Stubbs hit an inside-the-park home run that accounted for three runs in the seventh.
Stubbs hit a low line drive to right and when right fielder Ron Jones' knee gave out, Stubbs made it around the bases easily. Jones had to be carried off the field and suffered torn ligaments.
Lenny Dykstra was four for five to raise his average to .375.
Atlanta 7, Montreal 6--Dale Murphy ended a one-for-35 slump with a three-run home run in the third inning at Montreal and the Braves hung on to hand the Expos their fourth loss in a row.
Chicago 7, San Diego 3--Dwight Smith's tiebreaking homer sparked a four-run seventh inning and Steve Wilson pitched six shutout innings in relief at San Diego.
It was the fourth victory in a row for the Cubs and the fourth loss in a row for the Padres, who have lost six of their last seven.