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NATIONAL LEAGUE ROUNDUP : Gant Keeps Braves Ahead of Dodgers

From Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves have maintained their slight edge over the Dodgers in the NL West despite the recent slump of outfielder Ron Gant.

Gant was in the midst of a four-for-32 skid until Thursday when he broke out with a solo home run and a run-scoring single that gave the Braves a 5-1 victory over the San Diego Padres at Atlanta.

The Braves, 25-7 at home since the All-Star break, extended their winning streak to a season-high seven games. The Braves maintained their half-game lead over the Dodgers--who defeated Houston, 6-2, in 10 innings Thursday--with the Dodgers coming to Atlanta today to start a three-game series.

“We’ve put ourselves in a position where we want to be--on top--with L.A. coming in,” said pitcher Charlie Leibrandt (15-11), who won his sixth consecutive decision. “We’ve got the momentum and we’re ready to go. We’re probably playing our best baseball of the year.”

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Gant’s 29th homer in the third inning, only his second since Aug. 14, broke a 1-1 tie and made an eventual loser of Bruce Hurst (15-7), who had won six of his last seven decisions.

Gant also drove in a run during a two-run fifth with an infield roller to second. Otis Nixon, who was running on the pitch, scored from second after stealing his 70th base.

Gant, attempting to become the third player in history to have consecutive seasons with at least 30 homers and 30 stolen bases, stole his 30th base and scored when first baseman Fred McGriff was unable to handle David Justice’s grounder to first.

Leibrandt gave up five hits, struck out four and walked three in seven innings to become the third Brave starter with at least 15 victories. Mike Stanton pitched one inning, and Jim Clancy finished.

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Justice drove in the Braves’ first run in the first inning with a sacrifice fly after singles by Jeff Blauser and Terry Pendleton.

The Braves added a run in the sixth on a run-scoring single by Nixon.

The Padres’ only run came on Leibrandt’s third pitch of the game when Darrin Jackson hit his 17th homer.

New York 6, Chicago 3--Howard Johnson went over the 100-RBI mark by driving in three runs at Chicago.

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Johnson, who has 101 RBIs, had a two-run double in the seventh off Les Lancaster that gave the Mets a 6-3 lead. He also had a single in the sixth and scored the go-ahead run on Gregg Jefferies’ infield single.

Anthony Young (2-1) earned the victory, giving up two earned runs and four hits in six innings. Wally Whitehurst, making his first relief appearance since June 5, allowed one hit in the final three innings for his first save.

Andre Dawson hit his 26th homer for the Cubs.

Cincinnati 7, San Francisco 3--Mariano Duncan continued his slugging streak with two homers to lead the Reds at Cincinnati.

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It was the third homer in three games for Duncan, who has seven homers and 17 RBIs since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 23.

Duncan, who has 10 home runs, hit a solo shot in the first off Paul McClellan (3-4) and a two-run homer in the fifth.

Tom Browning (14-10) gave up three runs in the first inning but yielded two hits through the next 6 2/3 innings for the victory. Rob Dibble got the last four outs for his 29th save.

Matt Williams hit his 29th homer for the Giants.

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St. Louis 1, Pittsburgh 0--Felix Jose drove in the only run at St. Louis with a bases-loaded walk from Doug Drabek, keeping the Pirates’ magic number for clinching the NL East at 14.

Jose is seven for 13 with 17 RBIs when the bases have been loaded this season.

Ken Hill (9-9) gave up two hits in 6 2/3 innings for his first victory in more than two months.

Drabek (13-13) also walked three in the sixth.

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Montreal 6, Philadelphia 2--Larry Walker had three hits, including his 14th homer, and drove in three runs at Philadelphia as the Expos won for the seventh time in eight games.

Chris Nabholz (5-7) gave up seven hits, struck out four and walked three in 7 2/3 innings. It was also the 11th victory in 13 games for the last-place Expos.


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