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NATIONAL LEAGUE ROUNDUP : Giants End Braves’ Streak at Five Games

One of the reasons for the tremendous improvement of the Atlanta Braves this season is the development of left-hander Steve Avery.

While the Braves were finishing last in the National League West in 1990, 26 games behind Cincinnati, Avery learned to pitch in the major leagues the hard way.

Avery, then 20, was 3-11 with an earned-run average of 5.46. A year later, he has become one of the most effective pitchers in the league.

Although Avery is a 13-game winner, he hasn’t made much of an impression on the San Francisco Giants.

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Kevin Mitchell hit a two-run home run in the first inning Wednesday at San Francisco and the Giants knocked out Avery (13-6) in the third inning and went on to an 8-3 victory and end the Braves’ winning streak at five games.

The Giants, who trail the second-place Braves by 5 1/2 games, have hit Avery hard twice at Candlestick Park this year--getting 13 hits and nine runs in 6 1/3 innings.

Will Clark whose triple started Avery’s downfall in the third, marveled at Mitchell’s 23rd home run.

“He one-handed it,” Clark said. “He was fooled and still it went out. Not too many guys can do that. That ball just jumped off his bat. He got every bit of it even though he was fooled.”

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Ron Gant extended his league lead with his 27th home run in the fourth inning.

Pittsburgh 5, Philadelphia 3--Run-scoring doubles by Bobby Bonilla and Barry Bonds in the fourth inning at Pittsburgh highlighted a four-run rally that enabled the Pirates to beat the Phillies for the 14th time in a row.

Before the Pirates’ outburst in the fourth, Phillie starter Tommy Greene (8-5) had struck out seven of the first nine batters he faced.

St. Louis 5, New York 4--Ray Lankford tripled in two runs to climax a three-run eighth inning that brought the Cardinals from behind at St. Louis.

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It was Lankford’s major league-leading 11th triple and marked the 21st time the Cardinals have won in their last at-bat. Lee Smith pitched the ninth for his 30th save.

Montreal 2, Chicago 0--Expo rookie Brian Barnes (3-4) allowed only two hits in eight innings, but needed help from Barry Jones in the ninth at Chicago.

Barnes had retired 14 batters in a row before he walked George Bell with one out in the ninth. Jones then came in to get the save.

Bret Barberie and Spike Owen hit back-to-back triples in the third inning when the Expos scored both runs off Greg Maddux.

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