It seems pretty clear that the Atlanta Braves are touching all the bases in their quest to win the National League West title. On Wednesday night at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, first Damon Berryhill touched all the bases, then Fred McGriff touched them all, then David Justice touched them all after hitting home runs in a 6-3 victory over the Houston Astros.
Tom Glavine struggled to his 21st victory, and the Braves took a one-game lead over the San Francisco Giants with four games left. The Giants dropped a 5-3 decision to the Colorado Rockies.
Berryhill hit a three-run homer in the second inning, then McGriff and Justice hit consecutive solo homers to break a 3-3 tie in the third.
Atlanta, seeking its third consecutive NL pennant, plays the Astros again tonight.
Time may be running out for the Giants, who left Candlestick for Dodger Stadium for a four-game series with the Dodgers, who have beaten them in six of nine games this season.
Meanwhile, the Rockies begin a three-game series Friday against the Braves with a chance to shape the pennant race again. The Rockies are winless against the Braves, but Colorado Manager Don Baylor believes that is about to change.
“I’ve thought maybe the law of averages is about to be on our side,” Baylor said. “It’s time for us to win a couple of those close games.”
Glavine (21-6), a 20-game winner for the third consecutive season, was roughed up early and wound up giving up all three runs and nine hits in 6 2/3 innings. He threw 136 pitches, struck out four and walked three as he won for the seventh time in eight decisions.
Greg McMichael got out of a bases-loaded one-out jam in the eighth when Steve Finley bounced into a double play, then finished for his 17th save in 19 chances after loading the bases in the ninth. The Astros stranded 14 runners in all.
Atlanta, which has won 19 of 25, went ahead in the third against Doug Drabek (9-18) when McGriff hit his 36th homer--a 417-foot drive to right. Justice, who struck out in four of his previous five at-bats, followed with his 39th, a 430-foot drive over the center-field fence.
Colorado 5, San Francisco 3--After leaving the bases loaded twice and dropping out of first place, the Giants left San Francisco not knowing whether they will come back to Candlestick Park this season.
“It’s not how you want to end your season at home,” San Francisco Manager Dusty Baker said. “We plan on coming back here to play again, one way or another. The race is alive and well.”
The Giants drew 39,377 in their final home game, raising their season total to 2,606,354, up from 1,560,998 last season.
Colorado stopped the Giants’ seven-game winning streak. The Rockies took a 5-1 lead in the sixth against Jeff Brantley on Daryl Boston’s second homer of the game.
The Giants closed to 5-3 in the bottom of the inning when Barry Bonds walked and pinch-hitter Mark Carreon homered, but the Giants had only one runner after that. Darren Lewis singled leading off the seventh and stole second and third, but was stranded when Matt Williams grounded out. Williams is in a four-for-37 slump over his last 10 games.
Bonds went 0 for 3 for the second game in a row.
Cincinnati 8, San Diego 0--Rookie Tim Pugh pitched 8 1/3 hitless innings before Billy Bean singled to prevent a final indignity in San Diego’s lost season, and the Reds routed the Padres at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.
Pugh (10-15), a 26-year-old right-hander, wound up with a one-hitter. He faced the minimum 24 batters in the first eight innings. Pugh fanned Ricky Gutierrez opening the ninth before the left-handed Bean lined a sharp single to center on a 2-and-1 pitch.
Pugh became the third pitcher this season to lose a no-hitter in the ninth. Otis Nixon of Atlanta singled off Jose Guzman of the Chicago Cubs with two outs in the ninth on April 6, and Oakland’s Lance Blankenship singled off Seattle’s Randy Johnson with one out in the ninth on May 16.
Pittsburgh 9, Philadelphia 1--Dave Clark and Al Martin drove in three runs each at Pittsburgh as the Pirates beat the Phillies in the Phillies’ first game after clinching the NL East. Both teams played lineups filled with rookies and reserves.
Montreal 7, Florida 1--Chris Nabholz had a season-high seven strikeouts in five scoreless innings at Miami and the Expos turned their second triple play of the season as they clinched second place in the NL East.
New York 1, St. Louis 0--Jeff Kent, hitless in his six previous at-bats, hit a two-out double in the 17th inning to score Eddie Murray at New York.