NATIONAL LEAGUE ROUNDUP : For Mets, No Strawberry, No Title

When Darryl Strawberry signed as a free agent with the Dodgers last winter, many of his former teammates said the New York Mets would be better without the slugging, controversial outfielder.

Others must have agreed because in preseason forecasts, the Mets were tabbed to win the National League West.

Now, Strawberry's new team, the Dodgers, are battling for the title in the West. And the Mets?

Wednesday night at New York, when Greg Maddux pitched a five-hitter and the Chicago Cubs defeated the Mets, 4-1, it eliminated the Mets from the NL East race.

The Mets' powerful pitching staff has been cited as one reason for their failure. One of the big disappointments, Frank Viola (12-15), was hammered by the Cubs.

Viola, who has lost 10 of his last 11 decisions, gave up all four runs and nine hits in six innings.

Pittsburgh 6, St. Louis 5--The Pirates seemed to toy with the Cardinals at St. Louis.

They spotted them five runs in the first four innings, then stormed back to win and cut their magic number (combination of wins and opponent losses needed to clinch the NL East title) to six.

The Pirates scored twice in the fifth, knocked out Bryn Smith in the sixth and tied the game. Then Cecil Espy hit a sacrifice fly in the ninth, scoring Orlando Merced with the run that held up for the win.

It may have been a costly win. Center fielder Andy Van Slyke limped off the field in the fourth inning with a sprained left ankle.

The Pirates, with only 16 games to play, lead the East by 11 1/2.

Philadelphia 1, Montreal 0--Terry Mulholland pitched a two-hitter at Philadelphia to win a brilliant pitching duel from Dennis Martinez.

It was a tough loss for Martinez (14-10). In the second inning, singles by Dale Murphy and Darrin Fletcher put runners on first and third with one out. Fletcher started to steal second and while he was in a rundown, Murphy scored the only run.

Martinez lowered his ERA to 2.35, lowest in the league.

Mulholland (15-11) retired the last 21 batters.

San Francisco 7, Cincinnati 2--Trevor Wilson pitched and batted the Giants to their fourth victory in a row at San Francisco.

Wilson (11-10) pitched a five-hitter and singled home two runs in the sixth inning to give the Giants a 4-1 cushion.

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