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NATIONAL LEAGUE ROUNDUP : Padres’ Benes Sticks With It, Beats Braves

The San Diego Padres are fortunate that young Andy Benes doesn’t discourage easily. If he did, the Padres might be out of the race in the National League West.

Instead, the 6-foot-6 right-hander, who will turn 24 Tuesday, is keeping their hopes alive.

Benes gave up one run in 7 1/3 innings Sunday at San Diego and won his fourth in a row as the Padres held on to beat Atlanta, 2-1.

While the Padres, who open a three-game series at Dodger Stadium tonight, pulled within seven games of the Dodgers, the Braves remained 1 1/2 games out.

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The Braves missed a chance to win in the ninth when Jeff Blauser was ruled out at first, completing a double play, although it appeared on replays he beat the throw to first. Manager Bobby Cox and Blauser were both ejected. Brian Hunter followed with a double, but Larry Andersen came on and got Greg Olson on the first pitch to end the game.

After a 3-0 loss at Montreal on July 15, Benes was 4-10. In the 10 losses, the Padres scored a total of 10 runs. They were shut out four times, twice by scores of 1-0, and scored one run three times.

He has not lost since, but on Aug. 3, after six innings of a perfect game, Manager Greg Riddoch sent up a pinch-hitter for Benes. Benes had been hit in the chest and the foot with line drives in his previous start and Riddoch thought he shouldn’t go beyond six innings.

Even the victory Sunday wasn’t without incident. Benes and catcher Benito Santiago argued after Santiago completely missed a pitch that led to the Braves’ run.

“I threw a breaking ball, and he was waiting for a fastball,” Benes said. “We changed the signs and everything was straightened out. There were some words, that’s all.”

Cincinnati 4, San Francisco 3--The Reds are on their longest winning streak in two months and now are seven games behind the Dodgers.

An infield single by Joe Oliver scored Glenn Braggs from second base with two out in the 11th inning at San Francisco, and the Reds beat the Giants for the third game in a row.

Braggs was hit by a pitch and stole second. His run gave Rob Dibble (3-2) the victory over Dave Righetti (2-5) in a battle of bullpen stars.

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Dibble pitched three scoreless innings. Righetti had retired all four batters he faced until he hit Braggs.

A bad throw by first baseman Carmelo Martinez on Will Clark’s grounder with the bases loaded helped the Giants score their three runs in the fifth inning. It deprived Tom Browning of the victory.

Pittsburgh 9, New York 2--The Mets completed a trip during which they lost all 10 games.

Bobby Bonilla, Andy Van Slyke and Gary Redus hit home runs against Frank Viola (12-10) to make it easy for Doug Drabek (12-11).

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The Mets, who were only 2 1/2 games out of first in the East after winning 10 in a row to start July, fell three games below .500 and 13 1/2 games behind the Pirates.

The Mets have lost 22 of 26 games.

St. Louis 4, Montreal 1--The Cardinals gave Omar Olivares a chance earlier in the season because they needed a fifth starter. He has become one of their most dependable pitchers.

Olivares (6-4) gave up a run and six hits in seven innings and doubled in two runs in the sixth inning at Montreal.

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Three relievers kept the Expos under control, with Lee Smith pitching the ninth for his 33rd save.

Chicago 7, Philadelphia 6--Ryne Sandberg singled for his fourth hit of the game, stole second and scored on Shawon Dunston’s single with two out in the 10th inning at Chicago.

Sandberg hit his 21st home run in the first inning and doubled and scored in the third inning.

Former Cub bullpen ace Mitch Williams, who has sparked the Phillies’ recent surge, was the loser.

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