NATIONAL LEAGUE ROUNDUP : Buechele Rewards Patience of Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates can afford to be patient. They can wait longer for a new player to produce than other teams not so fortunate.

Such is the case of third baseman Steve Buechele. After losing two third basemen, Jeff King and John Wehner because of injuries, the Pirates obtained Buechele from the Texas Rangers last month.

After 10 games Buechele, who had been hitting .267 at Texas, was batting .170.

All was forgiven Friday night at Philadelphia. Buechele hit a two-run double with two out in the ninth inning to give the Pirates an 8-6 victory. It was Buechele's first three-hit game as a Pirate.

The victory enabled Pittsburgh to increase its lead over St. Louis to 10 1/2 games. The Pirates have 19 games remaining.

Buechele got the two-run double against former teammate Mitch Williams (10-5).

"It was a two-strike Mitch-type pitch," Buechele said. "He comes right at you. Nothing fancy. Here it is to hit. Beat me if you can."

New York 4, St. Louis 2--Busch Stadium in St. Louis gives up fewer home runs than any other park.

But in this game there were three homers, all with a runner on base.

The last one was by Kevin McReynolds in the 10th inning. He broke out of a one-for-12 slump against Willie Fraser with two out after a walk to Howard Johnson.

Johnson hit his league-leading 34th homer in the first inning against rookie Mark Clark. Clark, making his starting debut because Bryn Smith's wife had to undergo surgery, gave up a double and Johnson's home run and only three other hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Todd Zeille hit the Cardinals' home run in the fourth inning.

Cincinnati 13, Houston 2--The Reds played more like last season's team, at Cincinnati.

Paul O'Neill hit a home run and two doubles and drove in five runs to lead a 17-hit attack that enabled Jack Armstrong (7-11) to win for the first time since July 2.

O'Neill was four for four. Chris Sabo also homered and Hal Morris was two for four and is batting .321.

Montreal 3, Chicago 2--Dennis Martinez, the major league leader in shutouts, was going for his sixth at Chicago.

Martinez (14-9) had a three-hit shutout for seven innings, but the Cubs, with Ryne Sandberg getting a pinch triple, pulled even with three hits in the eighth.

But catcher Gilberto Reyes singled home Larry Walker with his third hit of the game to break the tie in the ninth.

San Diego 13, San Francisco 2--Benito Santiago had a career-high five hits and drove in five runs for the Padres at San Francisco.

Winning pitcher Ricky Bones (4-3) allowed two hits in six shutout innings and is 3-0 with a 1.93 earned-run average in his last three starts.

Trevor Wilson (10-10) gave up seven runs and six hits in 1 2/3 innings in losing for the first time since July 16. He was 6-0 in his previous 11 starts.

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