Bagwell Is at His Best With Three Homers

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Jeff Bagwell is the first to say he doesn’t have the prettiest swing. He’s still dropping his hands, and he steps back, not up to the pitch.

But it works. Beautifully.

Bagwell matched career bests with three home runs and six RBIs Wednesday, setting a franchise record for homers as the Houston Astros beat the Cubs, 10-3, at Chicago.

His three homers gave him 225, two more than the previous Houston record set by Jimmy Wynn from 1963-73.


“It’s great to see Bagwell hit the longball again,” Manager Larry Dierker said. “We’re not amazed anymore because you see it so much, you come to expect it.”

He had a chance to tie the major league record of four homers in a game in the ninth, but he grounded to third. He also struck out swinging in the fifth, finishing the day three for five. His hitting streak reached 10 games.

“No question I was thinking about it [the record],” Bagwell said. “I was thinking about it, but I wasn’t using the right mind-set. It was a strike, but it wasn’t a pitch that you could hit out of the ballpark.”

Scott Sanders (0-2) gave up four runs--all earned and all driven in by Bagwell--and six hits in six innings. Rodney Myers was tagged for five runs and six hits in 1 2/3 innings.


Winner Shane Reynolds (3-1) gave up two runs and eight hits in seven innings.

San Francisco 4, Florida 0--Armando Rios, playing in place of the injured Barry Bonds, homered and scored twice at San Francisco to lead the Giants to victory and help Joe Nathan win in his major league debut.

Rios, who batted third, also threw out a runner at the plate from right field in the seventh inning to preserve the shutout.

Nathan (1-0), a converted shortstop who had never played above the double-A level before Wednesday, pitched seven shutout innings. He gave up four hits and struck out four with pitches as fast as 97 mph.


John Johnstone, who has not given up a run in six innings this season, pitched the eighth for the Giants and Robb Nen pitched a perfect ninth.

Knuckleballer Dennis Springer (0-3) gave up four runs on five hits in four innings.

Cincinnati 7, New York 4--Greg Vaughn’s two-run homer and Mike Cameron’s two-run double keyed a six-run fourth inning for the Reds at Cincinnati.

The rally took Denny Neagle off the hook in his first start for Cincinnati and matched the biggest inning of the year for the Reds, who had a six-run inning against San Francisco on opening day.


Masato Yoshii (1-2) pitched three scoreless innings before getting rocked in the fourth.

Scott Sullivan (1-0) pitched three scoreless innings for the win, and Danny Graves worked 1 1/3 innings for his second save.

San Diego 2, Pittsburgh 0--Andy Ashby gave up three hits in eight innings and Reggie Sanders homered at San Diego as the Padres stopped the Pirates’ four-game winning streak.

Ashby (3-1), coming off a five-hit shutout victory over the Dodgers and Kevin Brown, struck out seven and walked five in winning his third straight start.


Trevor Hoffman pitched the ninth for his third save.

San Diego, which got its second shutout of the season, avoided getting swept in the three-game series and has gone 71 regular-season series without being swept, a streak that began in 1997.

Arizona 4, Philadelphia 2--Matt Williams hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the seventh inning at Phoenix as the Diamondbacks handed Curt Schilling his first loss.

Todd Stottlemyre (2-0) gave up six hits in eight-plus innings and Luis Gonzalez hit his sixth home run as Arizona won its fourth straight, completing an 8-2 homestand.


At 9-7, the Diamondbacks are two games over .500 for the first time in their two-season history. It took them 40 games to reach nine wins last season.

Schilling (3-1) gave up all four runs and eight hits in eight innings.