MAJOR LEAGUE ROUNDUP : Hustling Braves Apply Pressure With 2-0 Win
Sheer hustle on the part of Ron Gant provided the Atlanta Braves with the only run they needed Thursday night as the hottest team in the National League since the All-Star break kept its grip on first place in the West with a 2-0 victory over the New York Mets at Atlanta.
Gant scored from first base on a single by Dave Justice during a two-run sixth inning that stunned the Mets.
“We were slow reacting (on Justice’s single),” Met Manager Bud Harrelson said. “It let them steal the momentum. Right now I’m just numb.”
John Smoltz (10-13), gave up six hits, struck out five and walked one in seven innings. He is 8-2 since the All-Star break and earned his fifth victory in six decisions.
The Braves, held to three hits through 5 2/3 innings by rookie Anthony Young (0-1), finally broke through in the sixth when Gant was hit by a pitch, then scored on Justice’s liner to right center.
Chicago 5, San Francisco 4--George Bell ended a slump with a home run and three runs batted in to lead the Cubs at San Francisco.
Right-hander Greg Maddux (11-8) pitched an eight-hitter for his fourth complete game and got the victory when pinch-hitter Dwight Smith’s two-out single in the eighth inning broke a 4-4 tie. But it was Bell’s resurgence that was most gratifying to the Cubs.
Bell started the winning rally with a one-out single against right-hander Francisco Olivares (4-4) in the eighth. Pinch-runner Ced Landrum went to second on a balk and pinch-hitter Chico Walker was walked intentionally with two out before Smith followed with his tiebreaking single to center.
Cincinnati 5, Montreal 4--The Expos’ Brian Barnes took a three-run lead and a no-hitter into the fifth inning at Cincinnati. He lost the no-hitter right away, and the lead went two outs later within a span of three pitches.
Barry Larkin and Chris Sabo hit consecutive homers off Barnes as the Reds scored five runs with two out to win their fourth in a row.
Paul O’Neill started the rally with a single, the first hit against Barnes (3-5). Mariano Duncan singled home O’Neill, then Larkin put the Reds ahead with an opposite-field, three-run homer, his 19th.
Jose Rijo (11-5) survived a three-run first inning set up by his two throwing errors. He gave up four hits in six innings to improve to 7-0 in 12 starts this season at Riverfront Stadium.
Rob Dibble pitched the ninth for his 27th save in 29 chances.
San Diego 1, St. Louis 0--Andy Benes pitched a two-hitter and struck out 10 at St. Louis as the Padres cooled off the Cardinals for the second game in a row.
Oscar Azocar singled home the only run in the fourth inning as San Diego won for the fifth time in six games.
Benes (10-10) retired the final 16 batters to improve to 6-0 in his last eight starts. He walked only one for his third complete game and second shutout of his career in outdueling rookie Omar Olivares (7-5). Olivares gave up four hits in seven innings, ending a three-game winning streak.
Houston 5, Philadelphia 1--Ken Caminiti, who drove in five runs Wednesday, added four more Thursday at Philadelphia where the Astros ended the Phillies’ record-tying 16-game home winning streak.
Mark Portugal (10-6) pitched a six-hitter, struck out six and walked none in his first complete game since Aug. 13, 1990.
Danny Cox (4-6) gave up four runs and six hits in five innings. He has won only once in his past nine starts and was the loser the last time the Phillies lost at Veterans Stadium, on July 14.
Toronto 6, New York 2--David Wells won for the first time in more than a month as the Blue Jays beat the Yankees at New York for their fifth victory in a row and a 2 1/2-game lead over Detroit in the AL East.
Wells (13-9), who had given up 27 runs in 26 1/3 innings in losing his previous five starts, gave up eight hits, struck out five and didn’t walk a batter for his second complete game.
With the Blue Jays leading, 3-1, New York starter Jeff Johnson (5-8) hit a batter and gave up a single to Pat Tabler before a wild pitch put runners on second and third in the sixth. After an intentional walk to Pat Boders, Rich Monteleone relieved.
The strategy backfired, however, when Lee hit Monteleone’s first pitch into the right-center field gap to clear the bases.
Chicago 7, Cleveland 2--The White Sox erupted for four homers, including a pair of two-run shots by Carlton Fisk at Chicago as they ended a nine-game losing streak at the expense of the Indians.
Jack McDowell (15-8) pitched his major league-leading 13th complete game with a seven-hitter.
Fisk’s 12th homer of the year and 366th of his career with nobody out in the second against loser Willie Blair (1-2) held up, enabling the White Sox to end their longest skid since 1978.