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NATIONAL LEAGUE ROUNDUP : Reds Trying to Make One Last Pitch, 7-0

They are fighting among themselves, their best hitter, Eric Davis, is sidelined indefinitely and Manager Lou Piniella is feuding with the umpires.

But with all of the problems, the Cincinnati Reds are not ready to be counted out in the National League West.

The defending World Series champions point to two reasons why they believe they are still contenders. One, the Dodgers don’t seem able to take control. And the Reds’ starting pitching is improving dramatically.

Scott Scudder came off the disabled list to pitch a strong five innings Saturday at San Francisco and the Reds hit three home runs to beat the Giants, 7-0. It was the second game in a row in which the Reds shut out the Giants. In the opener of the four-game series, the Giants won, but they didn’t get an earned run against Jose Rijo in seven innings.

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Although it might be a little late for the Reds to make a move in the West, they could be in position to turn it into a two-team race between the Dodgers and Atlanta.

The Giants declared themselves contenders after sweeping the Dodgers last week, but they are only a half-game ahead of the Reds.

Scudder, on the disabled list 51 days because of shoulder tendinitis, went five innings, giving up four hits and striking out three. His task was made easier because Paul O’Neill hit a three-run home run and Hal Morris and Chris Sabo hit solo homers.

Teammates had to separate Sabo and Rijo after the loss Thursday night, but their have been no repercussions.

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“We’re starting to get healthy,” Piniella said. “When you have outstanding pitching, you always have a chance to win.”

Atlanta 2, San Diego 1--As the Braves keep the pressure on the Dodgers, Manager Bobby Cox shows no fear in using his many talented young pitchers.

With the tying run on third and two out in the ninth inning at San Diego, Cox brought in Mark Wohlers to pitch to Tim Teufel. In his major league debut, the 21-year-old right-hander struck out Teufel.

The Braves ended a scoreless tie in the eighth when Terry Pendleton doubled in two runs.

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The Padres scored once in the ninth, but Mike Stanton got Fred McGriff on a fly ball to deep left field before Wohlers earned the save.

Pittsburgh 4, New York 1--Even Dwight Gooden couldn’t slow the Mets’ collapse in Pittsburgh.

Gooden, who was 5-0 in his previous eight starts, gave up two run-scoring hits to Andy Van Slyke and those were all the Pirates needed to hand the Mets their ninth consecutive defeat.

Zane Smith (11-9), who lost three in a row, held the Mets to seven hits, including Howard Johnson’s 26th home run, in eight innings.

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The Mets, losers of 21 of 25 games, are 12 1/2 games behind the Pirates.

Montreal 3, St. Louis 0--It’s almost shutout or nothing for Dennis Martinez (12-7). He gave up six hits to the Cardinals at Montreal for his major league-leading fifth shutout.

His only other victory since the All-Star break was his perfect game against the Dodgers July 28.

Larry Walker and Ivan Calderon homered as the Expos dropped the Cardinals seven games behind the Pirates.

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Martinez, who will be honored in Nicaragua on Monday, leads the majors with a 2.03 earned-run average.

Philadelphia 5, Chicago 2--Darren Daulton, a .412 hitter at Wrigley Field, hit two home runs to spark the Phillies.


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