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Nats Defeat Phillies 6-5 in 10 Innings

The Philadelphia Phillies had their chances to move into a tie for the NL wild-card lead for the first time this season. They just couldn't close out Washington.

The Nationals rallied twice to beat Philadelphia 6-5 in 10 innings on Thursday night.

The victory overshadowed Ryan Howard's club record 49th homer. He broke Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt's mark of 48 (1980).

``Some day in the offseason, when I look back on the season, it will be (more meaningful),'' Howard said. ``I try not to focus on what's going on and just staying alive and trying to win games and stuff like that. But one day I'll wake up and realize what happened.''

Philadelphia was one strike away from the victory in the ninth but couldn't hold on. The Phillies took the lead again in the 10th and needed just two outs to lock up in the victory in the bottom half. Instead, they watched Washington manufacture two runs, the final one coming when Marlon Anderson scored on a bizarre wild pitch to give the Nationals the victory.

The loss kept the Phillies (67-66) from moving into a tie with idle San Diego for first place in the wild-card race. Philadelphia now is one game behind.

``I guess the best way to say it is we kind of let the game slip away from us,'' Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. ``That might be even a better way to say it. We kind of let things get away from us. We've definitely got to learn to be more alert in the game and everything too.''

In other NL games, it was: San Francisco 8, Atlanta 6; St. Louis 5, Florida 2; Colorado 8, New York 4; and Houston 5, Milwaukee 3.

To make a strange night even more unusual, the Nationals announced after the game that they had traded Anderson to Los Angeles for pitching prospect Jhonny Nunez.

``As I told Marlon, you've got a chance to go to the World Series,'' Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said. ``They've got a good club, and when you look at the teams that are going to be in the playoffs in our league, the Dodgers and Mets have as good a shot of getting to play an American League team as anybody.''

Giants 8, Braves 6

Matt Morris won on the road for the first time in six tries, ending a six-game home winning streak for John Smoltz and leading the Giants over the host Braves.

Mark Sweeney hit a two-run single in a three-run sixth that knocked out Smoltz (12-7), who gave up a season-high seven runs and six hits in five-plus innings. He had been 6-0 with a 2.11 ERA in his previous six home starts since a June 7 loss to Washington.

Morris (10-11) had been 0-2 in five road starts since a July 2 victory at San Diego. He gave up five runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings.

Armando Benitez pitched the ninth for his 17th save in 25 chances, allowing an RBI single to Jeff Francoeur.

Cardinals 5, Marlins 2

Chris Duncan hit a tying pinch homer and Scott Rolen singled in the go-ahead run in a four-run eighth inning, leading the host Cardinals over Florida.

St. Louis, which reopened a five-game lead over second-place Cincinnati in the NL Central, sent the Marlins to their second straight loss following a nine-game winning streak. After losing 14 of their first 22 games in August, the Cardinals won five of their final six.

Florida dropped three games back of San Diego, the NL wild-card leader.

Pinch-hitter Miguel Olivo's bases-loaded infield hit off Braden Looper (8-1) put Florida ahead 2-1 in the eighth.

Sergio Mitre (1-5) relieved Dontrelle Willis to start the bottom half, and Duncan hit his first pitch over the right-field wall, a drive estimated at 428 feet. It was his third pinch homer, his second this season.

Rockies 8, Mets 4

Jeff Francis struggled on the mound but not at the plate, posting his first career two-hit, two-RBI game in Colorado's win over visiting New York.

Francis (11-10) allowed four runs and 10 hits in five innings. He helped himself out with his bat, singling home a run in the third and adding a sacrifice fly in the fourth.

Garrett Atkins hit his 22nd homer for the Rockies, who avoided the series sweep with their first win in six games against New York.

Oliver Perez (2-11), who hasn't won since May 17, allowed seven runs and 12 hits in three-plus innings.

Astros 5, Brewers 3

Craig Biggio homered and Andy Pettitte struck out five in seven solid innings as Houston completed a three-game home sweep.

Willy Taveras, Brad Ausmus and Lance Berkman added RBIs for the defending NL champions, who have won six in a row heading into a weekend series with the New York Mets.

Pettitte (13-13) won his second straight start, allowing five hits with a walk. Doug Davis (9-9) took the loss after giving up six hits and four runs in 6 2-3 innings.

Milwaukee manager Ned Yost and first baseman Jeff Cirillo were ejected in the first inning as the Brewers lost their season-high seventh straight road game.

Brad Lidge shut out Milwaukee in the ninth, earning his 100th career save and his 28th in 33 chances.
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