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NATIONAL LEAGUE ROUNDUP : Reds Get Hits, but Runs Are Problem in Defeat

Repeating as World Series winner is becoming one of the most difficult tasks in professional sports.

The New York Yankees, back in 1977-78, were the last team to do it.

As this season heads into the late stages, there is no indication the Cincinnati Reds will challenge that achievement.

Cincinnati, 96 games into the season, is as far out of first place in the National League West as it was in front at the same point in 1990.

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The Reds turned 13 hits into a 3-2 loss Sunday at St. Louis, their 15th defeat in the last 18 games. Cincinnati, two games below .500, is 8 1/2 games behind the Dodgers. A year ago, the Reds were 22 games above .500 and led by 8 1/2 games.

Cincinnati led, 1-0, in the seventh inning, but pinch-hitter Craig Wilson doubled in two runs off reliever Norm Charlton to put St. Louis ahead for good.

Wilson is hitting .409 (nine for 22) and has nine runs batted in as a pinch-hitter.

Ozzie Smith, who leads the league in on-base percentage at .409, walked and scored in the eighth inning, and it turned out to be the big run when the Reds rallied in the ninth.

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Jose DeLeon (5-8) won his second game in a row, and Lee Smith, although he gave up a run in the ninth, struck out Eric Davis with two on to get his 27th save.

Chicago 6, Atlanta 2--The Braves missed an opportunity to pull within five games of the Dodgers because Andre Dawson, a doubtful participant, hit two home runs at Chicago and drove in four runs.

Dawson, hit on the elbow Saturday, tested it and found he could throw, so he played Sunday.

“I wasn’t worried about hitting,” said Dawson, whose three-run smash put the Cubs ahead to stay in the fourth inning. “When I found I could throw I could play.”

Houston 9, Pittsburgh 7--Casey Candaele hit a home run and scored four runs, and the Astros ended a seven-game losing streak by scoring five runs off Zane Smith in the third inning.

The Astros trailed, 3-1, before their third-inning uprising. Ryan Bowen made it through five innings to get his first major league victory.

The Houston offense was somewhat unexpected. Going into the game Smith was 3-0 and had an earned-run average of 1.25 against the Astros.

San Francisco 2, Philadelphia 1--After winning their eighth game in a row at San Francisco, the Giants are still 10 games out of first place.

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Matt Williams hit his seventh home run in the last 11 games and Kevin Mitchell hit his 18th of the season in support of Bud Black (8-8).

San Diego 2, New York 0--The Mets’ hopes of prevailing in the East seem to be dying in the West.

Fred McGriff hit a two-out double in the sixth inning and drive in both runs to help Andy Benes win for only the fifth time in 15 decisions. Third baseman Howard Johnson’s error made the runs unearned.

Benes gave up five hits in eight innings, beating Frank Viola (11-7). New York has lost five out of its last six games.

In Benes’ 20 starts, the Padres have been shut out four times and scored two or fewer runs 11 times.


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