NATIONAL LEAGUE ROUNDUP : Expos Keep Pressure on the Pirates

The Montreal Expos never quite climbed into the pennant race in the National League East, but they are doing their best to determine who wins it.

They've already prevented the Pittsburgh Pirates from running away with the title. And they still have six games left with the second-place New York Mets.

Even though they lost starting pitcher Dennis Martinez in the first inning Sunday at Pittsburgh, the Expos continued their success against the Pirates.

Martinez was knocked out when a line drive by leadoff batter Wally Backman hit him in the collarbone. Although he scrambled to get the ball and threw Backman out, Martinez couldn't continue.

Andres Galarraga and Mike Fitzgerald hit home runs to lead a 15-hit attack and the Expos defeated the Pirates, 9-5. By winning two of the three games in the series, the Expos kept the Pirates from extending their 3 1/2-game lead over the struggling Mets.

For the season, the Expos, who won six of nine at Pittsburgh, are 10-5 against the Pirates. They play three more at Montreal next weekend. The problem is that the Expos, in third place, are 7 1/2 games behind the Pirates with 24 games to play.

Martinez is 2-1 with a 1.69 earned-run average against Pittsburgh. Manager Bob Rodgers juggled his bullpen until a four-run ninth broke the game open. Mel Rojas (2-1) followed Martinez, giving up one run in 3 2/3 innings.

"We have to have the teams in front of us fall flat on their face to win it," Rodgers said. "Our bullpen has done the job against the Pirates."

The Expos built a 4-0 lead and had to survive home runs by Barry Bonds and Jeff King. Bonds hit his career-high 26th. King hit a two-run homer in the fifth. King has 13 home runs and seven of his last 15 hits have been home runs.

Philadelphia 6, New York 2--After another disastrous trip, the Mets return home for the next 10 games. With the best home record (46-22) in the majors, they expect to pull back into race in the East.

But they'll probably be facing mostly left-handers the rest of the season.

When Pat Combs held them to five hits in seven innings at Philadelphia, it was the seventh time in their last eight games against left-handers that they've lost. It also gave them a 2-6 record on the trip.

Dave Magadan, who hit a two-run homer in the top of the seventh to give the Mets a 2-1 lead, put it succinctly. "We stink," he said.

Sid Fernandez (9-12) held the Phillies to four hits in six innings, but they got three consecutive singles in the seventh to tie it. With one out, Dickie Thon doubled in the go-ahead run.

Two of the Mets' most productive hitters are in slumps. Darryl Strawberry had two hits, but he has just four hits in his last 24 at-bats. Howard Johnson has two hits in his last 24 at-bats.

"We can't worry about the Pirates," Strawberry said. "We have to worry about winning."

The Mets are 32-39 on the road.

"It hurts," Manager Bud Harrelson said. "We at least wanted to go home with a win."

San Francisco 5, Houston 1--Giants' Manager Roger Craig almost gave slumping Kevin Mitchell the day off at San Francisco. It's a good thing he changed his mind.

Mitchell, who was hitless in his last 17 at-bats, had a run-scoring single in the first inning, and with two out and one on in the sixth, he hit his 33rd home run.

Mitchell's hitting helped Mike LaCoss (6-3), who gave up seven hits in eight innings.

San Diego 5, Atlanta 4--With one out in the 11th inning at San Diego, Garry Templeton hit a sharp grounder to first and Tommy Gregg's throw home was too late to get pinch-runner Phil Stephenson.

Eric Show (5-8), pitched two scoreless innings to get the victory. Show has now gone 15 1/3 consecutive innings without giving up a run.

St. Louis 9, Chicago 2--Rookie center fielder Ray Lankford had four hits, drove in two runs and scored twice in the first Sunday night game at Wrigley Field to lead the Cardinals.

John Tudor (12-4) pitching four shutout innings of relief.

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