Rookie Randy Tomlin, who won a big game against the New York Mets last week, came through with another fine performance Tuesday night at Philadelphia.
The ninth victory in their last 11 games left the Pirates 3 1/2 games in front of the New York Mets in the National League East. The teams open a two-game series in New York tonight.
Tomlin (3-2), who came up from double A a month ago, also contributed to the attack. With one out in the third and the Pirates trailing, 1-0, Tomlin, hitless in 18 at-bats, doubled. A triple by Wally Backman tied the score and Bonilla's single put the Pirates ahead to stay.
In eight starts since coming up from Harrisburg, Tomlin has an earned-run average of 2.10. He has not given up more than two runs in any outing. He beat the Mets, 7-1, giving up three hits and going the distance. Originally, the Pirates brought him up to pitch one game. He beat the Phillies, 10-1, and hasn't left.
Lloyd McClendon, picked off the waiver list Friday, hit a two-run homer for the Pirates.
"All I try to do is what (Pirate pitching coach) Ray Miller tells me to do--work fast, throw strikes and change speeds," Tomlin said. "That's what I did tonight."
Manager Jim Leyland brought in Neal Heaton, usually a starter, for two shutout innings of relief.
New York 10, St. Louis 8--Just give the Mets their home field and throw right-handers at them and they are sensational.
Darryl Strawberry, who fell apart on the road last week against left-handers, tagged right-hander Lee Smith for a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Mets their second victory in a row since returning home.
With Cardinal left-hander Joe Magrane unable to pitch because of a back problem, the Mets feasted. In two games they scored 20 runs, got 22 hits and Strawberry homered in each.
The big test will come tonight when they face left-hander John Smiley and the Pirates, who swept them in three games in Pittsburgh to build their lead.
The Mets are 48-22 at home, including nine in a row.
John Franco (5-1) won after blowing the save. He gave up a double to Milt Thompson and singles to Ozzie Smith and rookie Ray Lankford. Pedro Guerrero's infield out tied the score. It was only the fourth time Franco failed to get his save.
Cincinnati 5, Houston 3--Eric Davis needs a cortisone shot in his sore knee and Chris Sabo has an aching back, but they want to clinch the West before they take time off.
In this game at Cincinnati, the ailing Reds took another step toward clinching, stretching their lead in the West to seven games before the night was over.
Davis hit his 20th home run and limped around the bases in the second inning. Sabo singled home two runs in the third to give the Reds the lead for good.
Norm Charlton (12-7) gave the Reds a strong seven innings, and Randy Myers retired the last five batters for his 29th save.
San Francisco 2, Atlanta 0--Kevin Mitchell took over the league lead in home runs in time to get the Giants a victory at San Francisco.
Mitchell hit his 34th with a man on in the seventh to break a scoreless tie and give the Giants their fourth victory in a row.
Scott Garrelts (12-10) pitched a strong eight innings but needed help in the ninth. He is 6-1 against the Braves.
Chicago 11, Montreal 6--Kevin Gross was sitting pretty at Chicago, after being winless in 14 starts in a row. The Expos presented him a 5-0 lead and it was only the second inning.
He didn't retire a batter in the second inning and lost. There were two things unusual about the 10-run inning. All 10 runs scored before an out was made and there were no home runs.
There were seven hits, including three two-run doubles and 13 batters in the inning. Luis Salazar, who had two singles in the inning, tripled in the final run in the seventh.
The Cubs have beaten Gross (8-11) four times. "Here's a guy with a great arm and he can't win," Cub Manager Don Zimmer said.