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NATIONAL LEAGUE ROUNDUP : Bagwell Hits 39th, Astros Hang On

From Associated Press

Jeff Bagwell hit his 39th home run Saturday night to help the Houston Astros defeat the San Francisco Giants, 8-7, at Houston.

Matt Williams hit his major league-leading 42nd home run for the Giants, who have lost five in a row to fall four games behind the division-leading Dodgers in the National League West.

The Astros, who have won five in a row, took an 8-4 lead into the ninth, but Jeff Reed hit a three-run homer against John Hudek with none out.

With one out, pinch-runner Mike Benjamin was thrown out by center fielder Steve Finley when he tried to go from first to third on Todd Benzinger’s single. Barry Bonds popped up to end the game.

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A day after setting Astro single-season records for homers, runs batted in and extra-base hits, Bagwell struck again. His home run in the third inning gave him a major league-leading 115 RBIs and increased his career-best hitting streak to 16 games.

“It’s Jeff Bagwell’s year,” Astro Manager Terry Collins said. “He has done everything he has to do to show that he’s the MVP.”

Atlanta 2, Cincinnati 1--Greg Maddux of the Braves gave up only three hits in eight innings at Cincinnati.

The Reds hit only two balls out of the infield against Maddux (15-6), none after the second inning. Deion Sanders had a soft single and Eddie Taubensee and Reggie Sanders reached on weak infield singles.

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Maddux lowered his major league-leading earned-run average to 1.63. The two-time Cy Young Award winner led the NL with a 2.36 ERA last year.

David Justice his his 17th homer and Terry Pendleton had a run-scoring single for the Braves.

Montreal 4, Philadelphia 3--Wil Cordero scored the winning run from third base on a slow grounder to the mound in the 11th inning at Philadelphia.

John Kruk’s two-run homer in the ninth pulled the Phillies even, but it didn’t prevent the Expos’ seventh victory in eight games. The Expos have won 17 of 19.

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Cordero opened the 11th by hitting a high bouncer to reliever Doug Jones, who threw wildly past first for a two-base error.

After Lenny Webster sacrificed, pinch-hitter Lou Frazier hit a slow, two-hopper to Jones. Cordero broke for the plate and slid home ahead of Jones’ throw.

Florida 4, New York 3--Jeff Conine had a three-run double in a four-run fifth inning for the Marlins at New York.

Pat Rapp (7-7), who had lost his previous two decisions, lasted only five innings but got the victory. He gave up two runs on five hits while striking out six and walking three.

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Chicago 7, San Diego 1--Frank Castillo pitched a six-hitter for the Cubs at Chicago.

Castillo (2-1) was within one out of his first major league shutout but gave up three consecutive singles. He won his second consecutive start since being called up from triple-A Iowa on July 30. He walked one and struck out a season-high seven.

Rick Wilkins went three for four with a homer for the Cubs, who ended a four-game losing streak.

St. Louis 6, Pittsburgh 3--Luis Alicea’s three-run double capped a four-run eighth inning for the Cardinals at Pittsburgh.

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The Cardinals have won three in a row since losing 10 of 11.

The Pirates stranded eight runners in the first six innings and trailed, 2-1, before homers by Orlando Merced and Dave Clark on consecutive pitches by Omar Olivares gave them a 3-2 lead in the seventh.


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